Microsoft Lists

What Is Microsoft Lists and How Do You Use It?

Microsoft Lists is a productivity app that tracks information and organises work. It offers customisable templates and integrates with other Microsoft 365 services, simplifying data management.

What Is Microsoft Lists?

Microsoft Lists is the evolution of SharePoint lists. It helps track and organise tasks for individuals or teams. Users can quickly develop lists, grids, and calendars. The app presents complex information in a user-friendly ay that streamlines workflow and boosts productivity.

Working in a Team With Microsoft Lists

Microsoft Lists allows collaboration with flexible views like grids, tabs, and calendars. You can refine lists by adding columns, defining choices in drop-down menus, editing custom views, and sharing links. Microsoft Lists helps track information clearly and visually so that the team stays synchronised, even with minor changes.

Key Features of Microsoft Lists

Create Lists from Templates

The first feature to learn is creating a new list using templates. You have eight templates to choose from. Select a template and click “Use template” to create your list.

Favorite Your Frequently Used Lists

You can add frequently used lists to your Favorite list for quick access. Favourites appear on the web and mobile at the top of your List home page. Click the star icon next to the list title or on the list tile to add a list to Favorites and uncheck the star to remove a list from Favorites.

Create New Lists from Existing Lists

Use the “From existing list” option to quickly clone an existing list. This step copies formatting, columns, structure, and views, reducing effort for similar lists.

Microsoft Lists iOS App

The iOS mobile app lets you access your lists from iPhones and iPads on the go. It also allows you to create, edit, and share your lists with others. An Android version is in development and will be available later this year.

Add Lists as Channel Tab in Microsoft Teams

Add the Lists app as a tab in any Microsoft Teams channel. This option makes lists from older SharePoint sites or other Teams available for collaboration, and it can also be used to create new lists.

Calendar View for Date and Events Tracking

If you track dates and events with lists, try the calendar view for effective month-to-month comparisons. You can keep this view alongside other standard views. Consider creating custom views as well.

@Mention Your Teammates to Trigger Notifications

In Lists, you can @mention team members to highlight specific items. This works in the Teams app, too. @Mentioning in the web app sends a notification email with a link to the list. In the Teams List app, it appears as a Teams notification with a link to the item.

Grid View to Help Bulk Actions

Managing many lists can be challenging for bulk edits. Use the grid view to make bulk edits easily. You can edit items individually if you want, but for instant bulk edits, use grid view.

Know When Your Lists Are Updated

Create a rule on a list to get notified of new updates. This is useful for collaborating with multiple people.

Conditional Formatting for Enhanced Display of List Items

Another great feature in Microsoft Lists is conditional formatting. This enhances the look and feels of columns and rows based on specific criteria. Access it via the Column drop-down menu > Column settings > Format this column > enable Conditional formatting.

How to use Microsoft Lists?

Microsoft Lists is easy to use. It centralises all your individual and group lists. You can view favourites, recent lists, and shared lists. Four predefined views exist: list, grid, gallery, and calendar.

The grid view is the default and consists of rows and columns that you can reorder. It’s best for quick edits. The list view is similar but lacks edit functionality.

The gallery view highlights lists with images, while the calendar view is best for lists with dates. Choose the view that suits your needs to track your activities easily.

You can change an element’s background colour: orange for “Under review” and green for “Approved.” The background, font colour, and icons change based on criteria, making status updates easy to see.

Organize event details

6 Microsoft Lists Examples

1. Use Templates on Microsoft Lists

If you lack the time to create lists from scratch, use ready-made templates that comply with your organization. The SharePoint intranet in Microsoft List offers tailored models for specific use cases, such as new hires, problem monitoring, resource management, travel management, and more.

With one click, start common scenarios with structure and pre-configured features. Here are some examples:

  • Problem Management Template: Track and fix issues.
  • Event Itinerary Template: Organize event details.
  • Patients Model: Record and monitor patient needs.
  • Loans Model: Track loan applications.

Templates come with a predefined structure, form layout, and formatting options. Preview the list with sample data before finalising. Use new formatting items, views, and more for better project information.

2. Where to save your ready lists?

You can save a list to any SharePoint site with member access or to OneDrive for Business as a personal list.

Your new list opens in full-screen mode for easy changes. The URL shows where your list is stored.

The standard SharePoint list toolbar appears, allowing you to add an item, edit quickly, and send it to Power Platform.

3. Share information created in Microsoft Lists

Collaborate and benefit from your short or long lists, complex or straightforward.

Share personal and team lists.

Share a complete list with editing permissions or read-only access.

Choose specific elements to share and request a password for access.

Set editing permissions and an expiration date.

Allow others to add comments or items after sharing.

4. App permissions

Let’s review List permissions.

SharePoint and Microsoft Lists share the same settings. Lists inherit permissions from their site by default. These permissions dictate user actions, like creating or editing lists.

On Manage App, you can restrict user actions on Lists. For example, if a team member changes the default list view, it impacts all team members.

You can limit list views to only the team owner or specific members with limitation management.

5. Enable or turn off Lists in your organisation

Lists is enabled by default for all Teams users. You can disable or enable the app in the Microsoft Teams admin center.

Follow these steps:

  1. In the left panel, go to Teams apps > Manage apps.
  2. Choose one:
  • To turn off Lists, search for the app, select it, and click Lock.
  • To enable Lists, search for the app, select it, and click Allow.

6. Interaction of Lists with SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Planner

Lists interact with SharePoint. When you fill in a directory, you can view it on the homepage and quickly start using the same site. You can add lists to a SharePoint page as a web part.

Lists also integrate with Microsoft Teams. Add a list as a tab to your Team channel for quick access to all information. Click + to open the tab library and add a new Lists app tab to a channel.

Familiar with Planner? It’s a Microsoft 365 app that aids work planning. Planner activities can be integrated into lists for complete planning.


Why is Microsoft Lists better than Excel?

Microsoft Lists offers several advantages over Excel for organising and managing information. Lists handle structured data better, improving tracking, collaboration, and consistency. It integrates seamlessly with SharePoint and Microsoft Teams for efficient team collaboration and data sharing.

Pre-configured templates save time and ensure best practices. Smart alerts and rules keep users updated and manage tasks effectively. Rich, interactive views and forms enhance user experience. Microsoft Lists is a more robust and integrated solution for managing information within Microsoft 365.

Is MS Lists free?

No, Microsoft Lists is not a standalone free product. It is included in various Microsoft 365 subscription plans. Your organisation’s subscription may provide access to Microsoft Lists, SharePoint, Teams, and Planner.

Personal Microsoft accounts have limited access unless subscribed to a relevant Microsoft 365 plan. Check specific features and limits with your IT administrator or the subscription details.

Can Microsoft Lists be used as a database?

Microsoft Lists is not a traditional relational database but can function as a lightweight database. It offers structured data storage, list management, customizable columns, and filters, ideal for tracking tasks, managing events, or recording inventory.

Integration with Microsoft 365 apps like Power Automate and Power Apps enhances its automation and custom application capabilities. For complex data relationships and advanced queries, use Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft Dataverse.

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