SharePoint Search: Amp up the Power

SharePoint Search: Amp up the Power

Cathy Dew

If you use SharePoint as a document management solution, then you probably rely on SharePoint search to discover or locate specific files. In a site or library that houses thousands or even tens of thousands of documents, you should be able to use keywords and metadata terms to find the one document you require. Otherwise, your search can easily turn into a hunt for a needle in a haystack.

However, SharePoint search isn't just going to do what you want it to right out of the box. On the contrary, if you want a search function that can find specific files in crowded SharePoint libraries, you need to set up and customize the search schema so that it works for you. In other words, you need to turn standard search into power search.

Keeping Control of Your Content Types and Custom Columns

The first step to enabling so-called "power search? in SharePoint is to invest some time in setting up your managed metadata system. Having metadata for each SharePoint document will make those files more searchable. Columns and content types are at the core of SharePoint metadata management.

Think of columns like you would on an Excel spreadsheet. When you create a spreadsheet, each column has a different property, be it a name, a date, a dollar amount, etcetera. The same basic idea is true of columns in SharePoint. A single SharePoint document might have half a dozen different columns. One column is the title. One column is the file type. One column is the author. One column is the date the file was created. Another column might be the date the file was last modified. Each column provides more information about the file in question, making it easier to contextualize and easier to store.

Content types are a way to group different columns together so that they are reusable for a certain kind of document. Say your company uses SharePoint libraries to store a lot of client invoices. You might set up an invoice content type, which itself is a group of columns such as invoice number, customer or client, department, date, etc.

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