What Are Microsoft Lists and How to Use Them

Millions of SharePoint users have used SharePoint lists for their everyday collaboration and project management. In May 2020, Microsoft announced Microsoft Lists, the next step in the evolution of SharePoint lists, as a part of the Microsoft 365 services for business users. This tool helps you track issues, manage inventory, build on event agendas, manage FAQ, and much more.

The release of Microsoft Lists on the web is announced for the summer, with a mobile app later this year. To help you understand how your business can benefit from this tool, we’ve prepared an overview of the main app features and use cases.

Introducing Microsoft Lists

As Microsoft describes it, Microsoft Lists is a tool to track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory, and more, using customizable views, smart rules, and alerts to keep everyone in sync. At first, it may sound like a “Microsoft To Do” app but this tool goes beyond a basic task management app. Thanks to Microsoft 365, all the Lists’ information can be tracked across different locations, ensuring everyone stays in the loop with their colleagues. This tool represents a flexible, intelligent, and simple way to keep you on top of your team’s workflow.

Some of the most requested features this tool provides are:

  • Customizable views
  • Ready-made templates
  • Smart rules & alerts
  • Enterprise-grade security and compliance
  • Integration with Power Platform
  • Integration with Microsoft Teams
  • Creating a list from an existing list or importing Excel data
  • Creating personal and public lists
  • Adding lists as favorites

How to Use Microsoft Lists

Create new lists & access important ones

Lists Home is a central place where you can create and manage all your lists. To get to the Lists’ home page, you need to go into the Microsoft 365 app launcher and search for the Lists icon. Then, you can choose to create a brand-new list or use the ready-made templates, as shown in the image below. If you decide to create a new list, there is also an option to create one from an existing list or import an Excel table data to speed up the process.

Microsoft Lists' home

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

On the Lists’ home dashboard, you can access all your favorited lists or recent lists – yours or the ones you shared with your team members. That way, Lists Home makes all your lists easily accessible within the web or via the Lists mobile app. Premade templates include basic structure formatting, forms, and additional formatting. Some of the template examples are Issue tracker, New hire checklists, Recruiting, or Event itinerary that is shown in the image below.

Microsoft Lists' template

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

Customize your lists

Microsoft Lists helps you personalize your data visually with its view options. There are four main types of Lists’ view – Grid, List, Gallery, and Calendar. Grid view is the best solution if you want to list your information to be edited quickly. It is primarily rows and columns that can be reordered and configured in a way that suits you the best. In case you are a fan of SharePoint Lists, the List view might be the right choice for you, as it is without click editing capabilities.

If you want to highlight lists that include images, Gallery view, as in the image below, is the right fit for you.

Microsoft Lists Gallery View

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

For all your information that includes dates, the best way to visualize all your items is to use the Calendar view as in the image below.

Microsoft Lists Calendar View

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

In case you want to customize your view even more, Microsoft Lists allows you to use conditional formatting in your lists. After you set specific criteria, background, font color, and icons, the list will dynamically change when that criteria are met. You can also create custom views that help you to organize and prioritize your items. Simply add filtering or sorting to get a more engaging list look.

Easily manage rules

Another significant feature included in Microsoft Lists is the ability to create if/then-style rules. As Microsoft said in its announcement, once you decide on the outcome, click through if/then steps to evolve your rules. As shown in the image below, simply choose people, status, and value changes to send notifications or make updates on a specific list.

Microsoft Lists Rules

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

Collaborate on lists via Microsoft Teams

If you use Microsoft Teams for your team collaboration, Microsoft Lists allows you to create, share, and track lists without the need to leave the Teams app. As shown in the image below, it will enable you to have content and conversations side-by-side in one integrated experience.

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Microsoft Lists and Teams Integration

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

Using Teams, you can create a new list or add an existing one to your channel, as shown in the image below.

Create New Microsoft List in Teams

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

There will also be views options for Lists in Teams such as grids, cards, and calendar views. As shown in the image below, you will be able to add new columns, define choices, create custom views and filters, to ensure that the list is a perfect match for your team. It mostly looks like Lists does on the web with the power to customize them in the most efficient way.

Customize Microsoft Lists in Teams

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

Share your lists and items

With Microsoft Lists, you can choose from sharing the entire list with edit options or read-only permissions, as shown in the image below. It allows you to share individual items, with enabled or disabled edit permissions, to set an expiration date or require a password to access the shared content. Once the item is shared, invitees can comment on the full list or individual list items.

Microsoft Lists Sharing

Image source: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/announcing-microsoft-lists-your-smart-information-tracking-app/ba-p/1372233

There is still some time left until the release date, but one thing is for sure – Microsoft Lists brings a new experience to all Microsoft 365 business users and can easily become an essential reason to use Office 365 collaboration tools. If you want to learn more about this Microsoft 365 app, visit the new Microsoft Lists resource center and get a first look at the Microsoft Lists product demo video.

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