Shared SharePoint files not showing in file explorer: how to fix

Sharepoint is a great collaboration tool for storing and sharing files with co-workers. It makes the process of sharing files much more efficient and ensures security when sharing with both internal and external users. But what happens if your shared files don’t appear in Sharepoint file explorer? It may even be that the files are appearing in the web view of Sharepoint, but seem to be hidden from the desktop view. This seems to be a commonly experienced issue with Sharepoint, which is most likely due to your Sharepoint files needing to be synced

User (dleung29) – on the Microsoft forum – explains “I have a user trying to copy over files into the Sharepoint drive, they are copying over but when trying to access via File Explorer, the folder says it’s empty. But in the web view of Sharepoint, the files are there. (Some files don’t copy over also). I understand that Sharepoint/Windows have a file path/filename character limitations but some files they have already sync’d have longer filepath/names.”

Here is a step by step blog post that will walk you through each step of how to fix this issue.

Syncing Sharepoint files:

  1. Go to and sign in using your Microsoft credentials.
  2. From the panel on the left hand side, click on ‘Sharepoint.’
  3. From the left hand side, select the site where your files are stored.
  4. Then select the folder where your files are stored.
  5. From the panel at the top, click ‘Sync.’
  • Get SharePoint from $6.00 per month with Microsoft 365 Business Basic.

Although the steps to fix this issue are simple, it is important to note that there may be other reasons why your shared files are not appearing in Sharepoint file explorer. There are a number of restrictions and limitations that apply to file names and file types when syncing with Sharepoint. Before trying to sync your Sharepoint files, make sure your files do not fall under the following limitations.

get office app-icons
compatible Compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Android.FROM $6.00 user/month

Sharepoint restrictions and limitations for sharing files in Microsoft 365:


  1. Invaid characters in file names such as “ * : < > ? / \ |
  2. Invalid file or folder names. For example, .lock, CON, PRN, AUX, NUL, COM0 – COM9, LPT0 – LPT9, _vti_, desktop.ini, or any file name starting with ~$
  3. Invalid or blocked file types. For security reasons, a number of file names and extensions can’t be uploaded since they are executable, used by SharePoint Server, or used by Windows itself.
  4. You may receive error messages when sharing files on Sharepoint due to:
  • Passing the 50,000 item limit that can be shared within a folder and any sub-folders
  • Sharing to an address that is not associated with a Microsoft account.


  1. File size limit: 250GB
  2. File name and path lengths. The entire coded file path cannot contain more that 400 characters for Sharepoint in Microsoft 365.
  3. Thumbnails and previews. Thumbnails cannot be generated for images that are larger than 100 MB and PDF previews cannot be generated for files larger than 100MB 
  4. Syncing too many items. Although Sharepoint can store 30 million documents per library, performance issues may be experienced if you have over 300,000 items across all the libraries you are syncing.
  5. macOS specific restrictions. Case sensitive formatted disk volume is not supported.

If you have ensured that your shared files do not fall under these restrictions and limitations, but the shared files are still not showing up in Sharepoint file explorer, it may be because your files need to be synced in order for users to be able to access them. To find out how to sync your Sharepoint files, follow this step by step demonstration on how to sync Sharepoint files.

surface pro 8Surface Go 3surface pro 8

Step by step process on syncing Sharepoint files so they appear in file explorer: 

  1. Go to and sign in using your Microsoft credentials

For the purpose of this tutorial, I will be singing into Microsoft using an example account.

  1. From the panel on the left hand side, click on ‘SharePoint’

From the side panel, click on the sharepoint logo to view your sites.

  1. From the left hand side, select the site where your files are stored 

For this tutorial, I will be selecting the ‘Blog Demo’ site on my SharePoint system.

  1. Then select the folder where your files are stored

I have selected the ‘Documents’ folder as an example.

  1. From the panel at the top, click on ‘Sync.’

Your files will now start syncing.

Once the files on your Sharepoint system are all synced up, they should appear in the Sharepoint file explorer and will be accessible to all users, as well as being able to share them with external users if needed. 

Now that your shared Sharepoint files are synced, here are more blog posts about sharing files on Sharepoint: 

This blog post discusses the possibility of using Sharepoint without subscribing to M365 and lists some possible alternative systems.

Here we look at organisation setting of OneDrive and how to change these settings in order to share files with external users

This step by step guide explains how to edit permissions to be able to transfer files between colleagues or members within a group or organisation 

One of the biggest issues people tend to face when using Sharepoint is not being able to share files with people outside of their organisation. This blog posts highlights how to fix your external sharing permissions. 

Thank you for reading! We hope this blog post helped to solve your Sharepoint issues. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help.

Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell has been the Operations manager at telecoms and MSP Optionbox for more than 4 years. He has played a crucial role in the company, from marketing to helpdesk, and ensures that the IT requirements of over 300 clients are continuously met. With his innate passion for technology and troubleshooting and a particular interest in Apple products, Jack now delivers the most comprehensive tech guides to make your life easier. You can connect with Jack on LinkedIn.

Recent Posts