SharePoint 2007 – Manage Checked Out Files

One of the more confusing and incorrectly named settings option for a document library is “manage checked out files”.  At first glance you probably think that this feature will allow you to see every file that is checked out and to whom.  That was my first reaction and as I soon learned it is the wrong assumption.

First this link really doesn’t have any use if you don’t have the library set to require check out when editing files.  When requiring a file to be checked out prior to editing a rather interesting thing happens when a user chooses to upload a file to the document library.   The file is first uploaded into the library and marked as checked out to that user.  The user is then prompted to enter in required metadata and then he must click on the check-in button to make the file available to other users.    If the user uploading the file does not check the file in then it is left in a rather strange state.    The file is in the document library, however, no one except the person who uploaded the file can see it… including administrators!    

A couple of interesting side effects occurs as a result of this.  As an administrator you will see that the number of items displayed in a document library or returned as available using the SPList.Items.Count API may not equal the item count shown on the view all site content page (or with the SPList.ItemCount API).   If you notice that the counts do not match you should use the manage checked out files option to view the files that have been uploaded but not checked in.   As an administrator or document library owner you can take ownership of the files and either check them in or delete them.

Microsoft must have also decided that naming the feature “manage checked out files” was confusing.   In SharePoint 2010 Beta they have renamed the feature to “Manage files which have no checked in version".  

I have seen several posts on Microsoft’s MSDN forums about administrators trying to delete a custom document content type but the administrator keeps getting an error stating that the content type is still in use.   In almost every one of these posts the administrator states that all of the documents have been associated with a new content type and the old one is no longer in use.   What most of these individuals didn’t do is check the “manage checked out files”.  The administrator will most likely see that a file was uploaded into the library and by default associated with the content type he is trying to delete.   The administrator can take ownership of this file and either delete it or modify the content type association and check the file in.   Once this has been accomplished the administrator should be able to delete the old content type from the document library.

Hopefully this brief overview of the manage checked out files feature of a document library will save a SharePoint administrator a bit of time.

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