In SharePoint Online, I use Windows Explorer to add and manage folders and the data within the folders. Accessing SharePoint via the browser for the amount of data I work with is far too cumbersome. The problem exists when I modify a SharePoint list entry where the column is a lookup field for the folders that I created using Windows Explorer.

I can see the all the folders I created with Explorer in the SharePoint Document Library, just not when trying to select it from a lookup field. I have however, found a solution but it too is very cumbersome, but it's the only way I've been able to get SharePoint lookup to recognize the folder.

If I select the Rename feature for the folders that do not show up in the Lookup field and save it, whether I change the name or not, the folder will now appear. It should be pointed out however that this only works when using the "old" or "classic" SharePoint document library interface. The newer interface Rename feature still does not resolve the issue.

The question then becomes why can SharePoint Document Library see the folder fine but the Lookup feature cannot?


This relates to Content types as documents in a document library are associated with the "document" content type and folders are associated with a content type called "folder". This is why you see custom library columns in documents and not folders for example. The lookup field is most likely found in your libraries default content type called "documents" and wont show up for folders. Also I think the default folder content type is hidden.

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  • I'm not sure what your answer is meant to convey...? Am I missing the answer? Is there something in your response that I can use to "fix" or correct the problem? I appreciate the assistance but I was not able to determine a course of action. – Jim Dandy Jun 9 '16 at 19:37
  • Sorry about that. The lookup column in something native to SharePoint and will behave and work in the browser. When you open a library in windows explorer the lookup column dosent appear so when you create folders in that setting the lookup might not know what value to choose. I would create the folders and then go to SharePoint to use datasheet view to bulk edit the lookup values associated with each folder. – Chris G Jun 10 '16 at 15:38
  • Thanks for the clarification. If I understand what you mean by "bulk edit" I believe I use that. I select the "edit this list" feature which creates a spreadsheet-like interface and from the lookup field (which I call Folder) I try to add the folder I've created for that item. However, unless I've created the folder using the SharePoint "classic" interface, or I rename the folder using the classic interface, I won't see it in the lookup field. – Jim Dandy Jun 10 '16 at 18:07
  • The new look interface causes the same problem for the lookup field, so it's not just my creating these folders in Explorer that cause the problem, Microsoft's own latest feature causes this also. If this isn't corrected, then when SharePoint ports over to using the new interface exclusively, creating folders that appear in the lookup feature will go away altogether. – Jim Dandy Jun 10 '16 at 18:07
  • Yep in SharePoint 2010 and 2013 the Library ribbon has a format toggle that changes from the "classic or standard" view to the "Datasheet / quick edit" view. They change the names of what its called and even the button names for each version of SharePoint so its always been a struggle to describe. :) – Chris G Jun 10 '16 at 18:12

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