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An external list is a key building block for SharePoint solutions based on external data. You can read and write external data with the familiar experience of using a SharePoint list. An external list looks and behaves a lot like a native list, but there are some differences in behavior. For example, you can create views and use calculated values with formulas, but not attach files or track versions.

Note:  You can also create an external list by using SharePoint Designer 2010, which enables you to replace the default forms with InfoPath forms.

For more information, see Find content about external data.

What do you want to do?

Before you begin

Working with external data requires several pre-requisite tasks to enable secure access to the data. The following information can help you plan your next steps. Also, if you experience problems trying to work with external data, this information can help you identify the issue. To access external data, you or an administrator must do the following:

Prepare the external data source    An administrator may need to create an account and provide permissions to the data source to ensure that the right people have access to the data and that the data does not end up in the wrong hands. In an external database, the administrator may also want to create specific tables, views, queries, and so on to limit the results to just what is needed and to help improve performance.

Configure SharePoint services and accounts    An administrator must activate Business Data Connectivity Services and Secure Store Service.

Configure Secure Store Services    An administrator must do the following: determine the best access mode for the external data source, create a target application, and set the credentials for the target application.

Configure Business Data Connectivity Services    An administrator must ensure that the user who creates the external content type has permission to the Business Data Connectivity metadata store and that appropriate users have access to the external content type that the external list is based on.

Create an external content type    A user must define an external content type which contains information about connections, access, methods of operation, columns, filters, and other metadata used to retrieve the data from the external data source.

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Create an external list

Note:  To create an external list, you must have Contribute permission to the site.

  1. On the Settings menu Office 365 Settings button, click View All Site Content, and then click Create .

  2. Under the Filter By category, click Lists, click External List, and then click Create.

  3. Type the Name for the list. Name is required.

    The name appears at the top of the list in most views, becomes part of the Web address for the list page, and appears in site navigation to help users find the list. You can change the name of a list, but the Web address will remain the same.

  4. Type the Description for the list. Description is optional.

    The description appears underneath the name in most views.

  5. To add a link to the Quick Launch, verify that Yes is selected in the Navigation section.

  6. In the Data source configuration section, choose the External Content Type to use as the data source for this external list by doing one of the following:

    • If you enter the name of the list, click Check if External Content Type exists to make sure you have entered the correct name.

    • If you are not sure of the name of the External Content Type or if there are many External Content Types to choose from, click Select External Content Type.

  7. Click Create.

Note:  You can also create an external list by using SharePoint Designer 2013, which enables you to replace the default forms with InfoPath forms.

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Create a view of an external list

  1. On the Quick Launch, click the name of the external list for which you want to create a view.

  2. Click List > Create View.

  3. Click a view option, such as Standard View or an existing view on which you want to base the new view.

  4. In the View Name box, enter the name for your view.

  5. If you want to make this the default view for the external list, select Make this the default view. Only a public view can be the default view.

  6. In the Audience section, under View Audience, select Create a Personal view or Create a Public view.

    If Create a Public View is disabled, you may not have the necessary permissions to create a public view for this external list.

  7. In the Columns section, select the columns that you want in the view and clear the columns that you do not. Next to the selected columns, from the drop-down lists, select the order of the columns in the view.

  8. The external content type author may have defined one or more Data Source Filters that filter the data at the external data source to help improve performance. If available, enter values in the Data Source Filters section.

  9. Configure the other settings for your view, such as a local sort or filter operation, a group by, or totals, and then click OK.

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