Set up a library to require check-out of files

Some organizations want people to check out documents before they can edit. Checking out files prevents people from editing files simultaneously and lets people add check-in comments to clarify version history when versioning is turned on for the library.

 Tip    Before you require check-out for your library, make sure you want to give up co-authoring. Co-authoring is a feature that allows multiple people to edit a document at the same time without trampling on each other’s changes. But co-authoring doesn’t work at all if check-out is required. For more information about co-authoring, see Document collaboration and co-authoring.

  1. Go to the library you plan to work in. If the name of the library doesn’t appear in the navigation, click Site Content, and then click the name of your library.
  2. In your library, click Library > Library Settings.
    Library Settings
  3. On the Settings page, under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  4. In the Require Check Out section, under Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited?, select Yes.
  5. Click OK to save your settings and return to the Library Settings page.

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

More information in this article


Remove the check-out requirement from a 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.

  1. Go to the library you plan to work in. If the name of the library doesn’t appear in the navigation, click Site Content, and then click the name of your library.
  2. In your library, click Library > Library Settings.
    Library Settings
  3. On the Settings page, under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  4. In the Require Check Out section, under Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited?, select No.
  5. Click OK to save your settings and return to the Library Settings page.

Top of Page Top of Page

What happens when check-out is required in a library?

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    Don’t configure your 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 turned on.

When you work in a library that requires files to be checked out, you might want to understand the impact of your actions.

If you do this… This is what happens…
Create or add a file to a 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. 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. Then, 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.

Top of Page Top of Page

 
 
Applies to:
SharePoint Foundation 2013, SharePoint Online Enterprise (E1), SharePoint Online Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online Midsized Business, SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E1 & E2), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Midsized Business, SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Small Business, SharePoint Online Small Business, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, SharePoint Server 2013 Standard