Hiding from Delve in Office 365

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’ve worked in Office 365 for the past several years and one application that consistently seems to cause end-user confusion and concern is Delve.

What is Delve? It’s an intelligent application that looks across SharePoint sites, OneDrive for Business sites and email attachments and surfaces personalized content based on what it determines is most relevant to you based on Search and signals from the Office Graph. (Reference: How does Office Delve know what’s relevant to me?)

Like clockwork, a couple of times a year, end-users express concern over content being surfaced in Delve they feel shouldn’t be. To address this concern, here are some fundamental things I like to share about Delve with them:

  1. Content is personalized. Each user sees content specific to them and can only see what they have permission to see. Guaranteed.
  2. If someone has inadvertently shared a document or site with you, it will appear in your Delve if the Graph determines it is relevant to you. This behavior is a departure from the shared network drive world where if you had access to a folder you shouldn’t have had, you may not have known you had access to it unless you went explicitly looking for it. In Delve, it surfaces this content proactively to you based on the Graph signals. Big difference.
  3. If you need to exclude people from showing in Delve and SharePoint Online People Search, this can also be done, however there are some known limitations. Follow the guidance in the Tech Community blog post Exclude Users From Delve and SharePoint Online People Search.
  4. If there is a legitimate business need to hide content from appearing in Delve altogether, there are ways of doing this. Although my general guidance is to never exclude anything from Delve unless there is strong justification to do so, sometimes it needs to be done. Before going this route, ensure you have permissions defined correctly in your environment so only authorized people are seeing the content you’re concerned about. If, after doing that, you still have a requirement to exclude content from Delve for them, there are 3 options.

Two of the options below have an impact on Search results so use with caution.


Option 1: Hide specific documents or entire library from Delve only

Note: This will NOT hide it from Search results, only from Delve. 

There is a hidden property in SharePoint called HideFromDelve you need to use. Here’s how you do it:

  • Add a column to your library with the exact name (no spaces) HideFromDelve of type ‘Yes/No’
  • For any document you don’t want to appear in Delve, set the property to ‘Yes’
  • If you want to hide all documents in the document library from Delve, you can automatically default the value to ‘Yes’


Option 2: Hide entire Document library from Search and Delve

Note: This option will hide the document library from BOTH Delve and Search results.

In document library Advanced Settings, set ‘Search’ to ‘No’.


Option 3: Hide entire site from Search and Delve

Note: This option will hide the SharePoint site’s content from BOTH Delve and Search results.

In site settings… Search… Search and Offline Availability, set ‘Allow this site to appear in search results’ to ‘No’:


My thoughts

Delve is a powerful tool, but it does require some end-user education so they understand the content they’re looking at. It will amplify any permission errors made across your tenant making it really important for information workers to understand the sharing mechanism and highlights the importance of periodic permission audits across your environment.

If you have chosen to exclude some content from Delve, there are other interconnected features that may be affected: Search (as documented above), and Data Loss Prevention (DLP). DLP relies on the search index to apply its rules so if you are excluding a document library or site from Search, DLP rules will not be able to detect, and ultimately protect, that content.

Thanks for reading.

-JCK

6 comments

  1. Hi Joanne, thank you, this is very useful, as I have had to deal with user panic attacks as well. We have said: “in Delve, content finds you” but that sounds even more scary for some. 🙂 And how on earth did you find out about that HideFromDelve column?

    1. Thanks Ellen – I’ve known about it for a few years, I likely found out about it from someone else in the community (and it is also documented in Microsoft’s documentation). A hidden gem for sure.
      -JCK

    1. Great question! I would like to think eDiscovery would include it anyway but I’ll have to confirm. I’ll update the post with results.
      -JCK

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.