A site by any other name: renaming the site address in SharePoint Online

I recently had a chance to check out a new feature that landed in my Office 365 tenant – the long-awaited site address rename. It worked great in my test account, so I prepared to try it in a client tenant. It also worked great there – but I learned a few things that I wanted to share.

Why you might want to rename a site address

There are lots of reasons you may need to rename a site address. When you create a site in Office 365 (team site or communication site), you are effectively making a land grab for the URL name. First come, first served – so that name can’t be used by another site. That may be OK, but sometimes it’s not!

  • Oops, a team took a URL that an organizational function needs. If someone creates a Team or team site called IT, that same URL (sites/IT) is not available for the intranet communication site that IT will want to create to share content with the rest of the organization. This is one of the most common scenarios I see, especially in organizations that deploy Office 365 for team collaboration before they get to their new intranet. If the team is actively using their site, my recommendation is to find another name for the IT communication site (e.g. sites/InformationTechnology). There are some implications for file access if you rename a site address for a team site that is connected to a Microsoft Team. Review the warnings in the Microsoft documentation. Here’s the part that might give you a reason to pause:
    • “Teams (for Office 365 group-connected sites) After the site address is changed, users won’t be able to view the team’s files within the Teams app, but they can access them from Teams by selecting Open in SharePoint.”
  • You created a communication site for one purpose and now you want to extend that purpose – and the site address doesn’t match the new site title or intent. This is what happened for my client. We created a site that we thought would host only Quality Policies, so we named it sites/QualitySys (for Quality Systems). The concept of an organizational Policy Center wasn’t in the…