Chatter Files - A Better Option for Attaching Files to Records

Guest author & Salesforce MVP, Matt Lamb (a.k.a @SFDCMatt) explains why you should consider using Chatter Files over standard notes and attachments.  Read below and see why.

Chatter is full of so many features it’s often impossible to keep up with everything. One of my favorite Chatter features is Chatter Files, particularly in the context of specific records within the system. Chatter Files has more upsides than the standard Notes & Attachments feature, making a compelling argument that you should use Chatter if you do not already. Let’s take a look!

Version Control

If you’ve ever attached a file through Notes & Attachments, you quickly noticed that there isn’t a good way to manage different versions of the same file. I would bet that you have been unable to answer questions like, “Which of all these files is the most recent?” and  “Which one should I use?”

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Not a problem for Chatter Files! After you upload the first version of the file to Chatter, you’ll see that file show up directly in your feed:

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It also shows up the Notes & Attachments list as a Feed Attachment:

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When you’re ready to upload a new version, simply open the file record, either from the Chatter post or from the Notes & Attachments list, and select Upload New Version from the left side of the screen:

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Anyone who is following the file will receive a notification in their Chatter feed when new versions are posted. This completely eliminates the guesswork of which version of a particular file is the most recent, and makes sure everyone is always using the most up-to-date information. It also helps keep your Notes & Attachments lists much cleaner, since each file, no matter how many versions have been uploaded, shows up only once.

Collaboration

Chatter offers powerful collaboration features in almost every context, and Chatter Files is no exception. By uploading files directly into a Chatter feed, users in your Salesforce org are able to discuss changes to the file in real time, from whatever device they happen to be using. This cuts down on email traffic, and keeps all comments with the relevant documents for easy reference.

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File Size Limitations 

With Notes & Attachments, users are limited to uploading files up to 5 MB in size. This is obviously problematic if there are large files that you want to store in Salesforce.

Thankfully, Chatter Files allows you to upload files up to 2 GB in size. That’s right, 2,048 MB - a HUGE increase that should enable you to upload practically any and all relevant files you’re working with.

In-Browser File Previews

If you want to take a look at a file stored in the Notes & Attachments list, your only option is to download that file to your machine and then open it locally. With Chatter Files, many common file formats are supported for preview directly from your browser or mobile device, saving you the step of downloading one or more copies of the file.

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External Delivery via a Link 

A common question we hear on the Salesforce Answers board is if there’s an easy way to take a file in the Notes & Attachments list and attach that file to an email sent out of Salesforce. The unfortunate answer is, “not really.” You have to first download the file to your desktop, and then upload that file again as an attachment to your email.

With Chatter Files, you’re able to share a link to the file with anyone inside or even outside your Salesforce organization. Simply open the File record you want to share, click “Share File” on the left side of the screen, then select “Via link.”

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This will generate a link you can copy and paste directly into your email - no more uploading the same file a second time!

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On the recipient’s end, they get some of the same benefits accessing the file externally as you do from inside your Salesforce org. They’re able to preview the file directly from their browser, and even page through and read the document in full screen mode. They also have the option to download the file to their machine.

Try it for yourself with this External Delivery Test!

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And there you have it! Five (hopefully) compelling features offered by Chatter Files that are a big step up from the Notes & Attachments functionality. If you’re still using Notes & Attachments, I encourage you to give Chatter Files a try. And if you’re still not using Chatter in your org, use this as another selling point for turning it on!

Have a question or comment, or another cool feature I left out? Let us know in the comments!