SharePoint 2013 – Open in Explorer

If you’ve worked with SharePoint Designer, 2010 or 2007, you’ll know that it likes to do a little number on you when you try to edit certain files within Designer itself. Try opening a file to edit and then save it, and most probably you’ll find yourself with an error on your site. It doesn’t happen all the time and with all files, but when it does occur, it’s quite a headache so I do my best to avoid it.

To combat this, I used to check-out a file in Designer, and then open up a local copy of the file in a separate editor like Dreamweaver. Then I would make my changes and save, and finally, drag and drop the updated local file from File Explorer into Designer. Phew! That’s quite a waste of time when you consider doing this repeatedly, whenever you make a change in the file and want to see it reflected in your site.

Luckily, SharePoint 2013 gives us a simple neat feature to bypass this hassle, called Open in Explorer. Essentially, it does exactly what its name suggests. It will open up your site files in File Explorer so that you have direct access to edit them however you choose, bypassing the possible pitfalls of SharePoint Designer. This is especially useful if you prefer to use editors other than Designer to make changes to your site code.

So here’s a step by step example of how to use the Open in Explorer feature in SP2013.

Opening style sheet from Style Library using Open in Explorer

1. From the settings menu (cog icon) located at the top right corner of the site, select “Site Contents


2. Select the Style Library tile from the available Site Contents.


3. Navigate to where your Style Sheets are located. (Usually in en-us > Core Styles)

Important: You need to ensure that the file is checked out to you before you proceed.

In order to check out the file, click on the check mark to the left of the file name, to select the given style sheet that you want to edit.


From the tabs above the site Ribbon (located at the top left corner), select the FILES tab. From the options available in the Ribbon, select Check Out.


This should change the file icon in the listing, to show that the file is now checked-out to you.


5. From the tabs above the site Ribbon select the LIBRARY Tab.


Towards the center area of the Ribbon, in the section labeled Connect & Export, click on the option to “Open with Explorer”.


6. This will open up your File Explorer, displaying the same list of files that you were viewing in your browser. Click on the style sheet you wanted to edit, and open it up in your favorite code editor.


…and voila! You’re good to go. Now go ahead and make whatever changes you want to the file in your editor, and just save. When you refresh the site in your browser, you’ll be able to see all your changes instantly.

The same holds true for viewing and editing Master Pages and Page Layouts as well. To access these, simply go to Site Settings instead of Site Contents from the main settings menu. From there, under Web Designer Galleries, click on the link “Master pages and page layouts”. Then follow the same procedure to Open in Explorer.

* It is important to check-out your file before you make changes so that you changes are retained after the file is closed. If not, your changes will be lost when you close the file.


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