Working with Non-Office File Types in SharePoint & Office 365

Office 365 and SharePoint work quite nicely when you are working with Microsoft Office file types. Things like Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Once you really start using SharePoint however, you want to store many more types of files in SharePoint. This is natural and you can actually get the files into SharePoint without too much hassle.

Editing and working on Office file types is pretty good. Just click on the file in SharePoint and you can now choose to do the edits directly in the browser (with online versions of the Office products) or edit the files in the full desktop version of the Office products.

But what’s the story with file types that don’t open in, or are not associated with the Office products?

Well that’s when things get a little clunky, and in this post I’m going to show you how OnePlaceDocs Explorer turns virtually any software application into a “SharePoint” aware application that you can use to open/edit and save files that live in SharePoint. No longer are you just restricted to using the Office application that were designed to work with SharePoint, now you can edit files in any application you want.

So what is OnePlaceDocs Explorer? It is a bit like Windows File Explorer except it is purpose built for looking at SharePoint and Office 365 environments rather than files on your local computer or network.

To give you some orientation, the screenshot below shows OnePlaceDocs Explorer and points out the 3 pane layout which is similar to Windows File Explorer.



Let’s look at a common scenario…

Editing Images Files in SharePoint/Office 365

It’s actually very difficult to edit image files that are stored in SharePoint. If you try to open the file, the web browser simply displays the image in the browser (because it natively knows how to). This doesn’t help you when you want to edit the image though. Your options are to either:

  • Download the image from SharePoint to your local computer, edit it in your image editing program of choice, then manually upload the file back to SharePoint replacing the existing file
  • Sync the whole library offline via OneDrive and then you can work with the file as though it is a normal file on your desktop. Saving changes to the local file will sync back to SharePoint.

Here’s the OnePlaceDocs Explorer way.

Select the image file and select Open With (from the ribbon or context menu action)


Select any application from the list of applications installed on your computer that recognise this file type. I’ll choose good old Microsoft Paint just to prove that a very basic application that has no interoperability with SharePoint will work fine.


Paint now starts up and the image stored in SharePoint is sitting there ready for me to edit.


I’ll make a few changes and just save using the standard save action in Paint or pressing CTRL+S.


Believe it or not, that is it.

If we return to OnePlaceDocs Explorer we can see in the changes showing in the preview pane.


Just to prove that it really has changed the file in SharePoint, I’ll open this document library in a web browser.edit-files-directly-from-sharepoint-07a-open-in-browser-cameron-dwyer

We can then find the same file in SharePoint


And there’s my modified image.


Editing the file using OnePlaceDocs Explorer really wasn’t any different to opening a file from my local computer. So now you have no excuse for not putting those files in SharePoint where they belong!

This same technique can be used to open any type of file with any installed application. Another common scenario is opening PDF files with Adobe Acrobat or another PDF authoring tool.

About Cameron Dwyer

Architect and developer at OnePlace Solutions. Passionate about delivering compelling solutions on the Office 365/SharePoint platform. Addicted to coffee.

Posted on September 3, 2015, in Office, Office 365, OnePlaceDocs, SharePoint and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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