I have a SharePoint online site collection, which contain a custom list, which contain around 51,000 items, as follow:-

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and currently the list contain these 3 indexes :-

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When i access the main list view, I am able to sort and filter using Un-indexed fields, such as created-by and modified-by.. so can anyone provide some advice?

Based on the documentation, large lists cannot be filtered or sorted using UN-indexed fields...

2 Answers 2


TL:DR; It's better to prepare for growth before you've grown. However, you'll find that columns that are central to filtering/sorting really are better indexed.

First, what version of SharePoint are you using? That really matters when asking questions about SharePoint.

Second, large lists are something that are better prepared for. Clearly, your environment has already had it's thresholds increased from the default 5,000. When contemplating indexing a column, the first question to ask is, why? For example, an index pairs really well with views you plan on filtering. If a view is really important to users then indexing the columns that drive that view is an excellent reason to index.

There can be a number of good reasons to index columns, and identifying those reasons should be driven by business needs. And the irony is, if you don't know what the business needs are and are busy growing the data footprint of a SharePoint farm you've got a shaky foundation for the farm. I've been using SharePoint since version 1 around 2001 (I think). And I've been consulting around SharePoint since 2008. I can't tell you the number of clients I've worked with that set up their SharePoint environment without properly understanding the processes related to the information being dumped into SharePoint. And don't even get me started on SharePoint used as Network Folders v.2.0!

And so one piece of advice is, this isn't about what can or cannot be filtered/sorted, rather, this is about understanding those columns that will be most useful to end users. In other words, understanding what they're doing with the data will identify reporting requirements. Understanding reporting requirements will highlight those views that should be built, along with additional requirements for future enhancements. If this is all done under a process improvement umbrella all the better.

The POINT of SharePoint is for users of common interest to SHARE, and collaborate around, valuable information. Questions such as indexing are best analyzed with an understanding of how users consume and share information, both for the work they do and for the outcomes of that work that others need to share. Depending on your version of SharePoint (and this part won't age well) you can share 30 million items in a given list. Ideally, those involved in configuring and evolving SharePoint understand how the information within is being used and can predict what will grow. It is certainly better to index a column before the list grows beyond 5,000 items.

This is a good reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/community/large-lists-large-libraries-in-sharepoint

That said, you've clearly inherited a large list. So even though you're fighting a small fire, hopefully the above provides a better understanding of the immediate need while inspiring you as you look to the future. You're going to need to index the columns for large lists that are central to filtering/sorting, or you'll get complaints that the site doesn't work.


According to this article,

Indexes are created automatically in the following two situations:

1.When saved views have columns used for sorting or filtering.

2.When sorting in the modern experience.

  • but as shown in my screen shot the createdby and modifiedby are not inside the index list but i am able to sort and filter based on them..
    – John John
    Aug 4, 2021 at 11:27

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