Recent SharePoint Updates: Modern Document Sets

Photo credit: William Bout

Article Updated: July 11, 2019 – Note added Feb 17, 2022.

Note: This article has been rewritten to reflect some updates as of Feb 2022. See Modern Document Sets.

Series Introduction

As a Twitter, blog, and M365 Roadmap junkie, I spend a lot of time looking at the new features in SharePoint Online and related O365 technologies. Some of these updates are straightforward and just appear, some require early adopters to use the admin center or PowerShell. I have decided to document a few of the new features and how I implemented them.

This series is in no way meant as an exhaustive list of new features. It’s simply a few of the features that I have tracked most closely and/or have implemented in my tenant.

Your Mileage May Vary

I should preface this with a note that the features I am talking about are in my O365 development tenant. This tenant is set to Targeted release, which means that it’s set to get updates as early as (publicly) possible. You may not see all these features in your tenant (even if your tenant is set to Targeted release, as there is a “random order” applied to the feature deployment). 

Articles in this Series

  1. Recent SharePoint Updates: Organization Updates
  2. Recent SharePoint Updates: Modern Document Sets
  3. Recent SharePoint Updates: Creating a List from a List

Modern Document Sets

Document sets have been around in SharePoint for years. When describing them, I generally call them “super folders” or “folders on steroids”. As the name states, they group together “like” documents, and their superpowers include the ability to share their metadata with the files inside them. This helps by reducing the amount of metadata the user is required to provide.

Up until recently, document sets where one of the features that would return the user to the classic interface. I started seeing this feature in my dev tenant around May 15th, 2019.

Enabling Document Sets in a Site

The document set feature isn’t enabled by default. To enable this, go to:

Gear > Site Information > View all site settings > 
Site Collection Administration (group) > Site collection features

Find the Document Sets feature and click the Activate button.


Once the feature is activated, go to any library on the site, then:

Gear > Library settings > Advanced Settings > Allow management of content types? > Yes

and click the OK button.

From the Library Settings Screen click “Add from existing site content types”.

Add the Document Set content type by selecting it, clicking Add, and then Ok.

On the Library settings page, click on “Document Set” under the Content Types heading, then select Document Set settings. This is where the power of the document set can be applied. In the Shared Columns Section, select “Description” and click the OK button at the bottom.

Return to your Document library and add the Description column to the All Documents view.

Create a new Document Site by clicking the New button and selecting “Document Set”. Fill out the metadata for the Document Set and click the Save Button.

Note: This screen still shows in the classic interface.

You will be returned to the Document library and the Document Set will be showing.

Navigating into the document set will open the information panel so you can view the Document Set properties.

Note: If you get to here and the screen reverts to the Classic interface, the feature is not enabled on your tenant yet.

Note: I am able to edit the properties in this panel (except Name), but if I click “Edit all” and try to change properties I get an error on the Name field saying “You can’t leave this blank.”

At this point when you add or create documents, they will take on the shared metadata.

Note: Document sets do not “default” the shared values. They set them on the documents. This means you can’t change shared values on the documents. They will revert to the Document Set value.

What’s Missing

Modern Document Sets are missing a few features from the classic implementation. These include:

  • Welcome page
  • Capture Version
  • Version History


There are still a few issues to iron out while this feature is in Targeted Release, but I love document sets, and I’m glad they finally made their way to modern SharePoint.

Author: Mike Hatheway

I'm a husband, father of twins, and a consultant specializing in M365. Generally focused on Teams, SharePoint, and the Power Platform. I hold several Microsoft certifications and I work at Bulletproof Solutions.

14 thoughts

  1. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the quick overview of the recent update. Very helpful indeed.
    Do you know how content approval on decument set works? I am looking for an option (without a workflow), wherein if a document set is approved/rejected via content approval then all items inside it are also approved/rejected.


    1. Hi Vanita,
      Unfortunately I don’t think so.
      The “Approval Status” column that is added with content approval doesn’t seem to get added to the Document Set content type (or any content type actually), so it’s not a column you can “share” with the children of the document set.


  2. Thanks! This works perfectly with new libraries. But, I have classic document set libraries that even when I switch the library view to modern, clicking into the document set reverts to the classic welcome page view. On new libraries on modern sites the full modern experience works.


    1. Hey Jeffrey, I thought this worked, but I’ll give it a test. I do know if you have customized the welcome page for the classic document set that it will revert to classic. That’s the only thing I know of that forces the view to classic.


    2. Just tested this. As per my other comment, the only way I could get it to revert was by adding a web part to the Welcome Page of the document set. When I removed that web part, it started showing in modern.


  3. Is it still the case you can’t run approval power automates on any of the documents in the Document Set, due to the missing Approval Status column ( with content approval enabled) . SO it is a deal breaker?


      1. westerdaled… I was just going to look at this when I saw your reply. I didn’t think it was an issue, so I’m glad you were able to get it working. Let me know if there is any issue or anything you need to work around.


      1. 😆 I’m not sure I would go as far too say that without the welcome screen document sets are deprecated. The properties panel is displayed (which, I’m assuming, will be able to be customized, like your can on lists) and all the child docs can inherit the metadata (which is the strength of document sets IMHO)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.