What might be a preference to use a list versus library when storing files? I just found that there is no drag and drop functionality in lists and I use that a lot.

  • 2
    Libraries were meant for storing files, why would you use list attachments? You can easily add custom columns to the library.
    – Mike
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 18:16
  • I've often used lists instead of libraries when I've wanted to group multiple documents to a single record. You could also accomplish this by using metadata fields in a library, I suppose, but it just always seemed easier using a list and attachments, so long as you didn't need any of the other functionality of a document library (e.g. accessing the documents in file/windows explorer).
    – Nate
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 18:24

3 Answers 3


It depends upon your requirement. But here is little difference between them. Document Library is basically the special type of List.

In a list:

  • No control on files, You cant CheckIn/Check out
  • No Minor version
  • You can attach the Files to list item.
  • No direct file adding
  • You cant see the name of the Attached file easily
  • No indexing on the title of attachment.

In Library:

  • Files directly added to library
  • Check In & Check Out
  • Major and Minor Version
  • More control on documents.
  • Better search experince
  • Create Folders
  • drag and drop
  • No Infopath forms
  • Have Unique Document Ids out of the box

Sharepoint Lists vs. Sharepoint Libraries



To group documents in a library, you can use the Document Set content type. That way metadata is set only once for the entire group of documents.

  • Document sets are pretty cool, but they are also not well documented or well supported once you get beyond the basics. So there can be a lot of frustration with that.
    – Rothrock
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 23:09
  • I never had any trouble with them, and I was running complex workflows, setting custom permissions, collecting digital signatures. I didn't run into anything frustrating.
    – Erin L
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 12:47
  • I agree they are awesome and worth the pain. Short list -- workflow doesn't start on creation only edit or manual, NewForm.aspx is in _layouts/15 so you can't change if you don't have access to that, versions are different than other library items, trying to create using REST or SPServices isn't documented nor does it work properly. Some of these could be due to our on-prem situation.
    – Rothrock
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 22:04

In addition to the info already supplied - with Document libraries, the focus is the document; with a list, the focus is the list item and the document is attached to it. In a list, if you look at it in SharePoint Designer, the attachment is stored in a separate "folder" for each item. Do if you wanted to link directly to the document file, you'd have to set the path to that deeper location. Otherwise you have to open the item in the display form or listview, its just a paperclip icon, you don't get to see the file name, etc, and then open the attachment.

Basically, if you have items where the main information is stored in fields in the list, and the document is just an add-on, use a list. If the focus is the file/document, and you have columns to help categorize it or that are pulled out of fields in the document, use a library.

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