Thursday, November 18, 2021

Bookmarks to take over for promoted results in Microsoft Search

As announced in the M365 message center post MC293777 Microsoft Search will over the course of November to December of this year execute phase one to deprecate the support of classic query rule based promoted results / best bets, and replace it fully with Bookmarks and Q&A answers.

Message center announcement: In order to improve the Microsoft Search experience, promoted results will no longer be supported in Microsoft Search for Organization level scoped searches and will be replaced by the Bookmarks and Q&A features.


In 2019 Microsoft Search released Bookmarks and Q&A as the successor to promoted results for organization scoped queries. Since the launch Microsoft Search has seen a tremendous uptake in usage of Bookmarks and it currently outnumbers the classic feature by more than 3:1, and users have more success when using them.

Org scoped queries means queries performed from SharePoint Home, the Work vertical in Bing, or if a user upscope on the search result page in SharePoint using the breadcrumb, and also sites in SharePoint configured to show org scoped results by default.

Up until now the search result page has returned both Bookmarks and promoted results, meaning admins has two ways to configure the same user experience. With this change promoted results will stop being shown in Microsoft Search, but will continue to work in classic search experiences (for those still clinging to it), or experiences built on SharePoint Search API’s.

Microsoft made the change internally over a year ago and the time has now come for the rest of the world!

Why bother?

I’ve worked with query rules ever since they were introduced in SharePoint 2013 and they are a pain to work with. Which is why I way back in 2014 came up with an easier approach, “Better best bets with lists”, and some premier field engineers in Microsoft iterated it to “Even better best bets with lists”.

Well, those times are over my friend, and here’s my list of benefits using Bookmarks/Q&A over promoted results:

  • Management – if you ever tried to manage more than 10 query rules, you must like to be challenged for patience
  • Targeting – you can times scope a bookmark (also possible with query rules), you can geo-target, you can AAD target and you can device target Bookmark answers. Something very hard to accomplish with query rules.
  • Client support – Bookmark answers will show in SharePoint, and Microsoft Search in Bing, with more to come. As Microsoft Search is not only SharePoint you can expect Bookmark and other answers to show in the full M365 eco system of client applications when applicable! Currently rolling out to Teams.

What you need to do to prepare

Microsoft Search provides an alternative to promoted results using either Bookmark or Q&A answers.

If your organization set up Promoted Results in SharePoint, you can import the Promoted Results into Microsoft Search and make the imported content available to your users. This is an easy way to quickly populate search results as soon as you set up Microsoft Search and make it more effective for your users. We recommend using promoted results from SharePoint as a reference to understand how to name and create relevant search results.

Microsoft Search allows a search administrator to import promoted results as Bookmarks. To import promoted results, in the Microsoft 365 admin center, open the Search & intelligence admin center and then select Answers. In the Answers dialog, select Bookmarks and choose Import SharePoint results to import promoted results from SharePoint. Also see

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Updated script to re-index user profiles for search

white printer paper on green typewriter

This has been on my mind for years and I finally got the time to create a new version of my PowerShell script to re-index user profiles for the scenario where you map a new UPA property to be used in search.

You can pick up reindex-users-v2.ps1 from The script allows for quicker updates especially for tenants with a lot of profiles as it uses the UPA bulk import API instead of iterating the UPA.

See and for documentation.

Cover image by Markus Winkler @ Unsplash

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Site descriptions are now searchable!! (and more)


“What????!” you might say, hasn’t it always been like that? And the answer is that ever since SharePoint 2013 it hasn’t. Because if it had, I would not be writing this – just saying.

As a bonus if you create a column in a library named Description, the content of this property is now also searchable. See my old post about this issue.

That’s correct people, you get a 2 for 1 special as Microsoft Search has rectified a long time nuance. And I’ll take the credit for getting this fixed (with some awesome technical help from Himanshu on the Stream team) - I can be humble another time


Note: The change applies to updated content, not content already in the index. For active sites it should fix itself, so no action needed on your part.

Technical explanation

For the site description (or the description of an Office 365 group or a Team) the crawled property storing the description value, ows_SiteDescription, was mapped to two managed properties:

  • Description
  • SiteDescription

Neither which were marked as searchable, effectively removing the ability to get a match on normal user queries from a search box. We have now made a search schema change to map ows_SiteDescription to the managed property Contents in addition to the two existing ones, ensuring full-text search.

Same goes for a SharePoint column/field named Description. Except this is a weird one as the crawled property for this column is Office:6, not ows_Description. To be on the safe side we have mapped both Office:6 and ows_Description to Contents as well.

Need a refresh on what makes content free-text searchable in SharePoint? Head over to

Cover image by Alexander Krivitskiy@unsplash

Monday, January 4, 2021

Microsoft Graph: Encoding and decoding the drive id


If you have worked with the Microsoft Graph API and SharePoint items you might have encountered URL’s which include a drive id. Where you in SharePoint typically work with URL’s for a site and the document library, a drive id is an encoded representation of a document library location.

The following Graph REST request will list all items in a specific document library:


Fetching the item for a file you use this signature to retrieve the file itself where item id is part of the listing: GET /drives/{drive-id}/items/{item-id}

With some reverse engineering you easily can figure out the drive-id is a prefixed base64 encoded string composed of the site id, web id and list id for a particular library.

Using PowerShell here’s a few lines converting the drive id string to the correct guid’s and back:

$driveId = "b!VvpCx03990mC5Lb5YxH0SUA9TgZHvEZImra6PMjrvbx85KUwT1BMTbhen6I6ffXL"   
$encodedDriveId = $driveId.Substring(2).Replace('_','/').Replace('-','+')
$bytes = [Convert]::FromBase64String($encodedDriveId)
$siteIdBytes = [byte[]]$bytes[0..15]
$siteIdGuid = New-Object Guid @(,$siteIdBytes) #site id

$webIdBytes = [byte[]]$bytes[16..31]
$webIdGuid = New-Object Guid @(,$webIdBytes) #web id

$listIdBytes = [byte[]]$bytes[32..47]
$listIdGuid = New-Object Guid @(,$listIdBytes) #list/library id

$bytes = $siteIdGuid.ToByteArray() + $webIdGuid.ToByteArray() + $listIdGuid.ToByteArray()
$driveId = "b!" + [Convert]::ToBase64String($bytes)

The item-id part is a bit more tricky and looks to be some sort of base32 encoding of a SharePoint item’s unique id. As I haven’t figured out the mechanics you can still access the item by route of the list item unique id:



Of course, if you already have the site id, web id, list id and unique item id, you can access a drive item using the following syntax as mentioned in my file preview post.

GET{site-id},{web-id}/lists/{list-id}/items/{item- id}/driveItem

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