SharePoint 2010 Cookbook: How to Copy Documents to a Document Set

SharePoint 2010 delivers a comprehensive set of document management features. In this article, we take a look at how to copy and move documents to a Document Set.


In SharePoint 2010, as in SharePoint 2007, you can use the Send To menu to copy documents to various document libraries and folders.  Can you use the same command to copy documents to a Document Set?


A Document Set is technically a folder, so you can copy (or move) a document anywhere within a document library to a folder or a Document Set.  It’s a little bit more tricky to handle Document Set though, so let’s take a closer look.  In our example, we have a document library that contains several folders, and Document Sets.  We would like to move the Word document called “Product Design” into one of the Document Set:

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Out of the box, SharePoint provides a feature that allows you to copy a document to another location, attach the document to an email, or download directly to your desktop.  This function is accessed via the drop down menu of the desired item.  So to copy the Project Design document, you would select its drop down menu, and then select Send To > Other Location:

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A form will be displayed which will allow you to select a destination folder:

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It’s at this point that you will run into some problems.  First of all, there is no “browse” button! Huh?!   But not to worry, you can kind of cheat clicking on the Click here to test link.  What this will do is bring up a new browser window, and let you navigate your SharePoint site.  So you can just go directly into your Document Set and copy the URL and paste it into the destination text box:

Destination URL

The next problem you’re most likely to face is the length of the URL.  For a folder in a document library, you will typically see an URL that looks something like: http://servername/sitename/SitePages/Home.aspx?RootFolder=%2Fresearch%2FShared%20Documents%2FSA12%20PM%20Central%20Folder&FolderCTID=0x012000716352BFB3558B4B883758CE80A99646&View={948CDAEC-E18D-4C58-B648-4B5DCA9D9B9E}, which is dangerously close to the 255 character limits that the text box will take.  And for a typical document set, you would have to paste something like: http://servername/sitename/Shared%20Documents/Forms/Document%20Set/docsethomepage.aspx?ID=5&FolderCTID=0x0120D520002C6F989695219243AA5A1A232C6D4051&List=1b194097-94d5-473c-a8ff-8985af937cd7&RootFolder=%2Fresearch%2FShared%20Documents%2F%5BSA12%5D%20PM%20Central%202%2E0%20Product%20Planning%20Document%20Set, which is way longer than 255 characters.

Next, even if the URL for the Document Set comes in under the 255 character limit, it just will not work.  Even if you try to use a Document ID to reference the Document Set location via the http://servername/_layouts/DocIdRedir.aspx?ID=DOCSET-ID form (see this article), you will get an error.  This is because a Document Set is not really a “physical” folder as far as SharePoint is concerned.

So what to do?  Besides writing code and possibly some PowerShell scripts, you can actually do this quite easily (once you find where the icon is on the Ribbon) with the document library Explorer view.  Just select your document library and click on the Explorer icon:

Explorer Menu

This will open a standard Windows Explorer window on your desktop, and the Document Sets will be shown as regular folders.  At this point, you can copy, move, drag and drop files.

SharePoint Explorer

Using the Explorer, you can:

  • Copy or move documents from one location to another folder or library.
  • Copy or move documents between site collections.  You can open more than one Explorer window, and drag and drop documents between document libraries.


You should beware of the following limitations and potential problems while using the Open in Explorer feature of SharePoint 2010:

  • When you move or copy a document, the properties that are associated with the document itself are moved, but the properties from the library or folder are not.
  • After the files have been moved or copied to the new location, they will be checked out to you default.
  • In SharePoint 2007, the Explorer used the browser, but in SharePoint 2010, it uses your desktop explorer.  Obviously, this feature will not work on non-Windows-based desktops.
  • The SharePoint explorer feature does not work with all browsers, (see this list of supported browsers).  You will also need a copy Microsoft Office 2010 on your desktop.  There are some reports in the field that IE x64-bit has some problems on x64-bit machines.
  • If you are using a server operating system, like Windows Server 2008, make sure that the Web Client service is running.  This service is not installed default.  This is done in Server Manager > Features > Add Feature > Desktop Experience.  You will have to reboot the machine.
  • If you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7, you might have to disable or set UAC to low.
  • Document Set is only available in SharePoint 2010 Server and is not part of the SharePoint Foundation 2010.

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