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How to enable saving a list as template on SharePoint Online?

3 min read.

Another day, another fun little task in SharePoint Online… :)

This time, I needed to be able to migrate 10 or so lists with some very specific fields and plenty of content from a site to another one. What’s the best way to do that now?

While PnP templates have supported exporting contents for a while now, you can still run into some issues with them – namely, fields of type “person” (or rather, “user”) are not supported, and I didn’t feel like scripting a migrator either to move the content after applying the schema, so what do?

Problem

Table of Contents

There are a couple of ways to achieve this, but the old and tested method of using SharePoint list templates wasn’t, at first, available on modern SharePoint communication sites. But that’s actually just a ruse by Microsoft to encourage you to use their new (and admittedly, very sleek and convenient) Microsoft Lists. You can actually still use the good-old templates too!

Even though it’s a bit hidden, the templates work pretty much just like they’ve always done – you just need to figure out a way to enable them, first :)

Solution

I’ll explain how to enable saving a SharePoint list as a SharePoint list template on modern SharePoint online site, communication or otherwise, below!

Time needed: 15 minutes.

How to enable saving a list as a template on SharePoint Online?

  1. Make sure you have sufficient permissions

    If your site is a Group-backed site, simply make sure you are the Owner of the site.

    If the group doesn’t have a Microsoft 365 Group associated with it, a site collection administrator will do.

  2. Enable Custom Scripting on the site

    To have access to the list templating functionality, custom scripting needs to be enabled on the site.

    There’s a guide on how to do that here:
    https://www.koskila.net/how-to-enable-custom-scripts-for-a-sharepoint-online-site-collection/

  3. Navigate to list settings and select “Save as template”

    This won’t be available unless custom scripting has been enabled!

    When it is, you can access the “Save list as a template” option under List Settings.

  4. Save the list as a template

    Figure out a nice descriptive name for your list – you’ll need to recognize it later.

    Download the list template to your machine, as you’ll need it momentarily!

    Okay – so now you’ve got the template. How do you use it?

  5. Upload your template to the target site

    Ok – we’re getting close. Now we need to get the generated template to the target site.

    Navigate to list gallery (“List templates” under “Web Designer Galleries”), and upload or drag your template file to the list.
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  6. Now you can create a new list based on the template, including the contents!

    The newly uploaded template should now be available when you create a new list using the out-of-the-box experience in SharePoint. Enjoy!

Boom! Great combination of classic 00s’ technology and the cutting edge stuff right there. Well, mostly the classic stuff, even if in modern view… Anyway, you know what I’m saying.

mm
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