Just today I decided to try something that I was certain would go terribly wrong: In the Versioning Settings of one of my document libraries I set the Require Check Out option to "No" but left Document Version History set to "Create major versions".

I saved the change and started making test changes to documents I didn't mind losing if things went sideways. As far as I could tell everything worked exactly as I wanted it to; new versions were created and other users who tried to open a document I was currently editing were shown a popup informing them of that fact and offering to serve them a read-only copy. And best of all, I didn't have to worry about checking anything in or out.

Near as I can tell the only thing I've lost is the ability to easily see who is currently editing a specific document. That is a feature I can do without.

So what I'd really like to know is why on Earth would I want to require check out on any of my document libraries? What is the benefit?

2 Answers 2


Having a 'checked out' flag is useful when you have another application that will use or otherwise look at the document library.

Also, that popup you get when someone's locked the file for editing? That's MS Office specific. You can't do this with text files. If you want to lock down any format that's not office to prevent save conflicts, you gotta use Require Check Out.


In addition to what James said.

You may want to test out this scenario. You are editing a document, someone else downloads the document instead of opening it straight from SharePoint makes changes and then uploads back up. I havent tried this specifically but it could in theory overwrite what you were working on.

If we are talking Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 then check-in/out has less purpose in my opionon because of the Co-authoring capability.

Another thing to take into consideration is the amount of versions. If you intend to limit the amount of versions then check-in/out will be more effective. Keep in mind that versions take up more space. If you are not using 2007 and 2010 formats it will be a full document each time you save a new version. I do not ever recommend leaving versioning unlimited.

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