Configure a site library to require check-out of files

Some organizations establish a requirement that files must be checked out before they can be edited. This requirement prevents multiple users from overwriting one another’s changes to files and provides a clear version history when versioning is enabled on the files.

What do you want to know?


What happens when a site library has a check-out requirement?

One way to control document collaboration is to require check-out of files, especially when multiple users have access to the library. If you have a file checked out, you can be sure that other people cannot overwrite it. However, you are also preventing other people from seeing the latest changes or making changes themselves, so it is important that you check files back in promptly.

 Important    Do not configure your site library to require checkout if people plan to co-author documents in the library. People cannot work simultaneously on documents when required check-out is in effect.

When you work in a library that requires check-out of files, it is helpful if you understand the impact of your actions.

If you do this… This is what happens…
Create or add a file to a site library The file is initially checked out to you. You must check it into the library before others can see it and work with it.
Open a file for editing

The file is automatically checked out to you when you click Edit in <application name>. A message box alerts you that you are about to check out the file and offers you the opportunity to edit it in your local drafts folder.

SharePoint file check-out message

After check-out, the file icon is covered with a green, downward-pointing arrow TBD, indicating that the file is now checked out. No one else can change the file, and no one else can see your changes, while you have it checked out.

Make changes to the information about the file (the properties) If the file is not already checked out to you, you must check it out before you can make changes to its properties, such as its title, author name, due date, word count, and so on. Your changes will not take effect until you check the file back in.
Try to open a file that is checked out to someone else

The Check Out and Check In options are unavailable. You cannot check out a file that someone else has checked out. If you attempt to do so, a message will let you know that the file is checked out by someone else.

Message telling you that the file is locked by someone else

You can, however, find out who has the file by hovering over the file icon. The name of the person who has checked it out is displayed in a tooltip.

ToolTip that appears below the checked-out file icon. It lets the user know the file name and who has it checked out.

You can contact that individual to request check-in of the file if you need it quickly.

Check the file in You are prompted to enter a comment about the changes you made. If your library tracks versions, your comment becomes part of the version history. If both major and minor versions are tracked, you are prompted to choose which type of version you are checking in. Look in the See Also section of this article to find more information about versioning.
Keep the file checked out for a long time No one else can see your changes or edit the file while you have it checked out. While this is helpful during the time you are making changes, it may also prevent others from performing their assigned tasks. It is both good business practice and common courtesy to check the file back in as quickly as possible after you check it out. In some circumstances, an administrator may have to force a check-in of the file.

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How do I configure a site library to require check-out?

Only people who have Full Control or Design permissions can set up libraries to require check-out of files.

To require check-out of files

 Note    If this information doesn’t match what you’re seeing, you may be using Office 365 after the service upgrade. Try Set up a library to require check-out of files to find the information that applies to you. Am I using Office 365 after the service upgrade?

  1. Navigate to the library you plan to work in. If the library name does not appear in the Quick Launch pane, click All Site Content, and then select the name of your library.
  2. On the ribbon, in the Library Tools group, click the Library tab.
  3. Click Library Settings Library Settings button on the SharePoint Foundation Library ribbon.
  4. On the Library Settings page, under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  5. In the Require Check Out section, under the Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited? question, select Yes.
  6. Click OK to close the dialog box and return to the Library Settings page.

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How do I remove the check-out requirement from a site library?

If, after a while, your organization decides that required check-out is not really necessary, you can remove the requirement if you have either Full Control or Design permissions.

To remove the requirement to check out files

 Note    If this information doesn’t match what you’re seeing, you may be using Office 365 after the service upgrade. Try Set up a library to require check-out of files to find the information that applies to you. Am I using Office 365 after the service upgrade?

  1. Navigate to the library you plan to work in. If the library name does not appear in the Quick Launch pane, click All Site Content, and then select the name of your library.
  2. On the ribbon, in the Library Tools group, click the Library tab.
  3. Click Library Settings Library Settings button on the SharePoint Foundation Library ribbon.
  4. On the Library Settings page, under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  5. In the Require Check Out section, under the Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited? question, select No.
  6. Click OK to close the dialog box and return to the Library Settings page.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Foundation 2010 , SharePoint Online for enterprises, SharePoint Online for professionals and small businesses , SharePoint Server 2010