What you need to know about linking to files and pages in SharePoint

A client recently told me that even though I had urged her to use “Copy link” with “People with existing access” to make a link to a document on a SharePoint communication site, she had determined that selecting the Path to the document was better — because links didn’t break when documents were renamed. I did some testing, saw someting different than she was seeing, and concluded … that we were both right!

When we got together to compare why we saw different results, as I expected, there was something different about what we were doing. It turns out, we were not testing with the same type of document or browser. I was surprised to learn some new SharePoint link superpowers, but was concerned because as it turns out, choosing the right way to grab a link to a document depends on multiple things. Fortunately, you don’t have to remember all of the use cases we tested, because there is a simple approach that will work consistently to provide the best user experiences.

Specifically, we found that link behavior is based on:

  • Browser (Edge vs. Chrome)
  • Web part (Quick Links vs. Text hyperlink)
  • Type of document (PDF vs. native Office file)
  • Location (site where the document lives and where you are making the link)

The scenarios are complex and nuanced, but here is the bottom line.


On your site, use the Quick Links web part if you can. For any type of file, use the Quick Links web part to navigate to the file and add a link to the file if it lives on your site. (Be careful when you are using the Quick Links web part. If you upload a document from that web part, you may not be able to easily find it again because it will be stored in Site Assets – in a folder with the same name as the page title. It will not “live” in the Documents library, which is where editors and others might expect to find it. I always recommend that you upload your documents to the library or folder where you want to maintain them first. After you upload the file, use the Quick Links web part to navigate to the file.)

Why use this approach? If you move or rename the file, your links will not break!

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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