Now that you have a good feel for what is possible in SharePoint 2010 and how to do common tasks, here are some tips for taking advantage of some more advanced functionality and getting the most out of your SharePoint site.
This story accompanies our SharePoint 2010 cheat sheet, which provides a full introduction to the software's interface and features.
[ J. Peter Bruzzese calls SharePoint 2010 "polished, refined, and feature-rich," and he looks forward to SharePoint 2013, a low-key update you'll love. | Discover what's new in business applications with InfoWorld's Technology: Applications newsletter. ]
1. Set up alerts. SharePoint can be configured to send you an email or an SMS text message whenever things are changed on either a specific item in a library or if anything in a library as a whole changes. This is useful since you won't then have to go back and manually check each SharePoint site for changes. You can set up alerts using the Alert Me button in the Ribbon on any given SharePoint content area.
Clicking it brings up the New Alert window, where you add a title to the alert, the delivery method (as mentioned, either an email to a specified address or a phone number for an SMS text message), the context of the alert (whether an alert is sent for any change at all, or only if new items are added, if existing items are modified, or if items are deleted), the scope of an alert (if anything changes, if a document changes, if a document you created or last modified changes), and how quickly the alert is sent after a change (you can set up an immediate alert, a daily summary, or a weekly summary, and you can customize the time for this).
The alert then comes directly to you. (See example.)
2. Customize your views and add columns when necessary. Sometimes, you might need to track a little more information about items in a library than SharePoint comes pre-configured out of the box to track.
For example, you might want to add a drop-down list that has choices about an item's status that users can select at various points during the lifecycle of that item. It's easy to add these choices to SharePoint list views so that you can work with these statuses.
In a document library, for example, select the Library tab from the Library Tools group, and then click Create Column.
You can give the column a name, and then select the type of information this column will contain; in this example, we'll select Choice, which will prompt SharePoint to display a menu of choices. You can then add a user-friendly description of the column, make its completion mandatory and enforce whether more than one item in a library can have the same status, and then you can type each status choice on separate lines in the next box.