Check out and edit a file

When you check out a file from a library on a Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services site, you ensure that others cannot make changes to the file while you edit it. While the file is checked out, you can edit and save the file, close it, and reopen it. Other users cannot change the file or see your changes until you check in the file.

If you are working in a program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can work with the file on your hard disk and even work on it when you are not connected. For example, while you are in the office, you can check out a file to your laptop and then work on it while you are on a trip. Working on files on your hard disk is also frequently faster than working with files on a server.


Checking out a file prevents multiple people from making changes at the same time, which helps to avoid conflicts and confusion over changes. Checking files in and out gives you more control when you track versions, because a version is created only when you check a file in, not each time that you open and close the file to work on it.

When you check out a file from some programs that are compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can work with the file on your hard disk, even when you are disconnected. The copy is stored in your server drafts folder, which is, by default, the SharePoint Drafts folder in your My Documents folder. However, you can change the location in some client programs. Working on files on the hard disk is frequently faster than working with files on the server and enables you to easily continue working while you are away from the office.

When a file is checked out, no one can edit it except the person who checked it out. Its icon in the library changes to indicate that the file is checked out icon image . When you rest the mouse pointer on the checked-out icon, the name of the person whom the file is checked out to appears in a ScreenTip. Changes that someone makes to a file while it is checked out are not visible to others until the file is checked back in. This is true regardless of whether the person is working on the file on their hard disk or on the server.

Libraries can be configured to require you to check out files before you edit them. If your library requires check-out, you will be prompted to check out the file when you edit it. If check-out is required in your library, you must check in a new file when you create it or upload it to a library. The file is not available for others until you check it in.

After you check out a file, you usually edit the file and then check it back in.

If your library requires files to be checked out, you can also check out the file when you open the file for editing. If check-out is required, you will be notified that the file is also being checked out as you edit it, if the file isn't already checked out.

  1. If the library is not already open, click its name on the Quick Launch.

    If the name of your library does not appear, click View All Site Content, and then click the name of your library.

  2. Point to the file name, click the arrow that appears, and then click Check Out.

    In a picture library, click the file, and then in the properties that appear, click Check Out.

  3. If the program that you are using to edit the file is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you may see a message that asks whether you want to work with the file as a local draft. If you want to work on a copy of the file on your hard disk, leave the Use my local drafts folder check box selected. If you want the draft copy to be stored on the server while it is checked out to you, clear the check box.


    • If the Check Out command is not available, the file may already be checked out to you or to someone else.

    • Later, if you decide to check in the file without saving your changes, you can discard your changes. You lose any changes that were made while the file was checked out. The file reverts to the last checked-in version, and no version history is kept for the unsaved changes.

    • You can check in the file so that others can see your changes and keep the file checked out while you continue to work on it. To do so, select the Keep the document checked out after checking in this version check box when you check the file back in.

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