How to delete and restore a list in SharePoint Online

When you’re finished using a list in SharePoint Online, you may wish to delete it. Sometimes you’re at the end of a project and have no need to keep the list’s information, and other times you may have just been testing out capabilities and are ready to clean up.

You must be a site owner or site member to delete a list by default. List permissions can be changed, however, so that even as a member you may not have the ability. Check with your site’s owner if you’re running into an issue when following these steps.

Delete a SharePoint list

To delete a list in SharePoint Online, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the list you wish to delete
  2. Select the settings wheel in the upper right corner, then List settings.
  3. Select Delete this list and click OK when prompted in your browser.
Location of Delete this list option | Click to enlarge

Restore a previously deleted SharePoint list

Items, including lists, remain in your site’s recycle bin for 93 days once deleted. Site owners have access to a second-stage recycle bin from which they can restore “double deleted” items (when someone empties the main recycle bin, or deletes a specific item from it).

As long as you’re within the 93-day window, follow these steps to restore a SharePoint list:

  1. Go to your site’s Recycle bin (may be on the navigation menu, or in your Site contents (settings wheel in upper right > Site contents).
  2. Select the deleted list
  3. Choose Restore
Steps to restore a deleted SharePoint list | Click to enlarge

Here’s a video demonstration of the deletion and restoration process for SharePoint lists:

How to Alternate Request Assignment to Responsible Persons for various categories

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I had a unique challenge recently to alternate assignment of requests (tracked in a SharePoint list) to individuals as they were created. User #1 would get requests 1, 3, 5, etc. and User #2 would get requests 2, 4, 6, etc. To make it more interesting, different pairs of experts might be assigned to different request topics, and sometimes a single individual would be responsible for a particular topic. The overall idea, though, was a somewhat evenly dispersed workload given quickly and efficiently to those who were responsible for those request areas.

One (less than ideal) option to accomplish this is to use a Get Items (SharePoint) step on the requests list with a Top Count of 1 and Order By OData query (Created desc) for the most recently created request, see who the assignee is, and then assign to the other person in that category’s assignee field (when applicable). But I needed something that was better-performing, sophisticated, simpler in design, and not dependent on any historical items in case they were deleted, re-assigned, etc.

So, to determine the assignment as requests randomly trickle in over time, I decided to have Power Automate determine whether a new request’s ID number (auto-generated by SharePoint) is odd or even. Odd requests would go to the first assignee of a subcategory, and even would go to the last. If there was only one assignee in a category, they’re both the first and the last so it still works.

A general good practice when building flows is to make sure you don’t put a particular assignee’s identity explicitly in a variable, task, or email step. For example, you wouldn’t want to put user #1’s email directly in an Outlook email step’s To line. This makes sure that if an employee leaves the company, that the flow won’t need a revision. Instead, I created a list in the team’s SharePoint site with request categories, sub-categories, and responsible persons. My flow refers to this list each time it needs to make an assignment, making sure it has up-to-date contacts for each subcategory.

Example of a request categories list | Click to enlarge

The managers of the process keep this updated with no more than two assignees per subcategory. This way, when new employees join, the list gets an update for what subcategories they’ll be handling, and the flow continues without a hiccup.

What you’ll need to build this solution

Overall, for this process to work, you’ll need:

  • A list of request categories with these columns:
    • Category (choice)
    • Subcategory (text or choice)
    • Assignees/Responsible (person with multi-select enabled)
  • A list of requests (submitted via a SharePoint form, Microsoft Forms form via Power Automate, or Power Apps app via Power Automate)
    • I’d recommend Power Apps if you have the time and resources – this way your choices (categories and subcategories) in the form can be dynamic (only have to be managed in one place) and reference your categories list without granting access to the main request list, or even the SharePoint site, itself
    • Consider adding additional fields for your assignees like Notes, Status, Priority, etc. for them to add additional context, reminders, and status updates as they work the requests
  • The Power Automate flow for assignment determination

How to build a flow that assigns tasks evenly and by category

The following video will walk you through the necessary components to build this flow in Power Automate. The result will dynamically assign tasks to responsible persons based on categories they’re responsible for, as well as alternating tasks to help distribute workloads more evenly within each category.

Ideas to enhance your categories list with additional fields for different assignment scenarios

Consider taking this concept further by adding additional columns to your categories list. Things like:

  • Sequential assignment (Yes/No) – Assign to the first person in the multi-select person field and if they don’t mark it complete within 2-3 days, add the second person as an assignee.
  • Assign to all (Yes/No) – Maybe some subcategories should have all assignees involved in the resolution. A simple checkbox would have the flow assign to both (when applicable).
  • Request specific assignment (Yes/No) – Not everything can be randomly or evenly assigned. You may wish to choose on a case-by-case basis. Set your flow up to send an adaptive card to the process manager(s) asking for selection of an individual for each request that comes in with this Yes/No checked.

How to rename the Attachments column in SharePoint lists

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Lists in Microsoft Lists (your own or those in SharePoint) offer a great way to store and manage data. One useful feature is the ability to add attachments to list items – think photos in maintenance requests, or screenshots in IT Support requests. The Attachments column is built into every list automatically (though it can be disabled if you’d like). However, you might want to rename this column to something more descriptive or relevant to a particular business process such as Supporting Documentation or Content for Review. Or maybe you’d just like to match the naming conventions or style guide recommendations already used in your organization.

Unlike other columns, the attachments column cannot be deleted or renamed using the list settings page, or by using the column header menu when viewing the list. However, you can rename the attachments column by modifying the URL of the generic column settings page, as described in the following section.

How to rename the attachments column in SharePoint lists

  1. Go to the SharePoint list for which you’d like to rename the Attachments column.
  2. Click on the settings (gear) icon and select List settings.
  3. Scroll down to the Columns section on the List settings page and click on any column name listed.
  4. In your browser’s address bar, replace the selected column’s name in the URL with Attachments after &Field= and press Enter to navigate to the column settings for the attachments column. Here, you’ll rename the column in the Column name box.

Demonstration of step 4 | Click to enlarge
  1. Click OK to save your changes.

Please note that some of the new list templates (Employee onboarding, Issue tracker, Content scheduler, etc.) come with the Attachment column already renamed to something else, but you can still get to its settings page by using Attachments for its field name in Step 4’s URL.

See a video demonstration of this process here:

In this blog post, I have shown you how to rename the attachments column in SharePoint lists. I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.