SharePoint 2010: The “What’s New” Web Part

There is a new out of box web part in SharePoint 2010, that is quite useful!  It’s called “What’s New”, and it shows you the newest items in a pre-set list of selected lists and libraries on the site.

Here’s how to put the web part on your site, how to configure it, and what it does.

  1. You need to activate the “Group Work Lists” feature.  So click <site actions>, go to <site settings>, click <manage site features>, and click to ACTIVATE Group Work Lists.
  2. Go to the home page of your site, and click to add a new web part.  From the list of available web parts, go to the Social Collaboration section, select the What’s New web part, and click ADD.ch5[50]
  3. Go to the web part properties toolpane, and this is what you’ll see:

In the Data section, this is where you can set the number of days of data to show (up to 7 days for one week), and the maximum number of items that will be displayed in this web part.

By default, this web part will show the date/time and name of the item as a hyperlink to it.  When you check the box to “Show list name and modified user” it will add the name of the item’s location, like “Shared Documents” in front of the item name, the person’s name also.

For the Target List drop-down box, you’ll notice that the list is a little sparse.  This will only let you select lists and libraries where the Modified column has been indexed.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

The drop-down “Use the below person column as filter” is an optional field.  You can choose to display the items in a given list or library, filtered according to the logged in user.  The drop-down box will consist of all “Person” fields in the list.  By default, this is “Modified By” and “Created By”, but if there are any other “Person” fields in that list, they will be available to choose from. (such as the Checked Out To field in a library)

The ADD LIST button at the very bottom lets you add another list to be included in this what’s new rollup.  You can add several more lists and libraries.  Not sure of a limit.

The Indexed Column

You can only use lists and libraries where the Modified field has been indexed.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to a list or library on your site, and go to the list or library settings page.
  2. At the bottom of the Columns section, click Indexed columns.
  3. Click to Create a new index

  4. Choose the Modified column in the primary column drop-down box, and click Create.ch5[55]

Once you’ve set the Modified column to be indexed for all of the lists and libraries that you want to roll up, next time you go to the What’s New web part settings, all of those will be listed in the Target List drop-down box.

Each of the lists and libraries that you set a person filter on will show as Personal Items in the web part, and the ones that aren’t filtered by a person field will show as Shared Items.  You CAN add the same list or library in here twice, once being personal and once being shared if you want.  Here is the end result:


This is a great out-of-box content roll up, and it does appear to be only for the site level, and not cross-site.



    This is exactly what we are looking for. However, the data is not viewable to anyone except the site admistrator. What am I missing?

  • Check the web part gallery, I guess. Maybe there’s some weird permission funkiness going on in there (this is in the site collection’s site settings)

  • Thanks … New Feature of 2010 today i learn …..

  • Awesome!!! This helps solve a lot of “burried info” issues when setting up an intranet site for cross-functional managers. Thanks for the step-by-step setup so that the feature works properly.

  • Laura, Awesome, exactly what I was looking for! THX, Mike

  • Great post, but I’m trying to locate it on my new SP2010 SP1 farm. I activated Group Lists feature, no luck. I created a new site based on the “Group Work Site” template, and there it is! If I delete that WebPart, there’s no option to put it back. Any thoughts?

  • Daryl, No sorry, I’ve never seen that happen.

  • I’ve configured this with Team Discussions, but it does not seem to work. Looks like a limitation with SP2010 that it pulls only specific “List” and “Library” base types. Is this a common experience? Or perhaps limited to my environment? Thanks in advance and thanks for the great write-up!

  • Thanks, Laura! Heard you discussing this on SharePoint Shop Talk. It is a nice find and you did a great job describing how to turn it on and use it both in your post and on the webcast.

  • Elaine, You appear to be correct. It lets me add a discussion board to the web part, but then it won’t show any items when they’re updated.

  • I have the same problem as Daryl. I have used this on other sites with no problem, but on this particular site, even when I activiate “Group Work Lists”, I don’t get this web part as an option.

  • I’m not too keen on the layout of the What’s New web part. How can I customize the results?

  • Naomi, I’m not sure. What site template did you use to create the site? Selena, No, I don’t think there’s any way to change the way it looks besides the options you see in the web part properties.

  • Laura – This was using the project site template (like from Project Server).

  • Naomi, I’m not sure, and I can’t troubleshoot that because I don’t have project server.

  • For any1 missing this webpart try to add “/_layouts/newdwp.aspx” to your sharepoint url. e.g. http://sharepoint2010/_layouts/newdwp.aspx. You get a list with all avaible webparts and you can add them manually to your site.

  • Is there anyway to get this to process multiple libraries at once? I was using a What’s New for 2007 that would look at an entire site structure showing any documents for any libs under the site.

  • Is there any way to get this to display all documents from a site? I used a free addon from Smarttools that you could enter a site and it would bing up all docs from any lib in the site. This was on a 2007 implemenetation.

  • Brian, Multiple libraries at once… yes, click the ADD LIST button in the web part. The content query web part will do a rollup from multiple libraries all at once. Plus, I have a whole other blog post I wrote about all the different ways to roll up documents.

  • I i enabled this web part as mentioned, I can able to add the web part but list is not showing in the select list drop down in the web part

  • To be able to add any list to the “What’s New Web Part”, that list needs to have the ‘modified’ column indexed. “Discussion Board” lists do not have that by default in SharePoint. Go to your discussion board settings and add an index to the ‘modified’ column. Then, that list will be available in the “Whats New Web Part”. This also applies to any custom list types.

  • Shekhar, Did you see that section called “the indexed column”. That’s important, and it answers your question. Tyler is right. That’s step 1-4 in the indexed column section.

  • I saw people having issues using this new web part with discussions boards — did anyone get it working? I added the index to the modified column so they are appearing in the drop down list and I beleive I have the rest al configured correctly (it’s not too difficult) but it is still not showing new items from the discussion boards. I had a web part I downloaded that did this in 2007, but it did not convert to 2010. This seemed to do the same thing, but not with my discussion boards…

  • I got this working! Great out of the box webpart!! 🙂 What is the difference between “Personal Items” & “Shared Items”?? In Personal Items i see only MY items, and in the Shared Items i see BOTH my items and modified/created items by other users as well…

  • “Laura can we deal with “”What’s New”” webpart programmatically?
    How should we use visual webpart for using “”What’s New”” webpart

  • Terri,
    I’m not surprised at that. Discussion boards are always hard to deal with, and are structured a bit differently than other lists.
    Yep, you pretty much described the difference between personal and shared items. 😉
    I don’t know, I’m not a programmer, so not sure if it’s possible.

  • Is there a way to have the name of the folder that is in the library appear in the What’s New webpart?

  • Katie,
    I don’t think so. There aren’t many configuration options in the web part.

  • This is very useful. However, I can’t seem to add lists or libraries from other sites across the site collection. Is there a way to do that or am I out of luck without customization?

  • Pete,
    No, it only allows lists and libraries from the current site.

  • Laura,

    I want to thank you for this and many other posts!!

    VERY grateful!

  • Hi Laura,
    I’m trying to add the what’s new webpart to the MySite page for all users. While I’m able to add the webpart, I’m unable to customize the What’s New section (I have the Appearance, Layout, Advance, Custom Properties options). Is the “Group Work Lists” feature what I need to activate this portion of the customization tool? I dont believe I have access to the site settings option on our site.

  • Michelle,
    Yes, the Group Work Lists feature needs to be enabled for this web part to work.

  • Hi Laura,

    I have created “What’s New” webpart for my Home page. But I am unable to link Lists and Libraries to what’s new webpart. In the “Target list” it is showing only Home option (“phone call memo” this option is showing me after activating Group work lists). I want to add few list to what’s new webpart. How can I do the same.


  • This almost does what I am looking for, I would like to aggregate all of the site pages from team sites of a site collection to the top level of the site collection using the same criteria for filtering available in this webpart. Is this possible OOB using SharePoint 2010?

    Thank you,

  • Thanks so much for the thorough explanation. There doesn’t seem to be much information out there about this Web Part and I can’t find anything that allows more customization with javascript. Is there any way to remove the “created by” when you check the box for “Show list name and modified user”? My issue is that I add documents to a certain library and they are never modified. I don’t need “modified by” and “created by.” Showing both takes up too much room and might confuse the users to see the file listed twice. But I DO need the list name. Is there any way to show the list name, but remove the “modified by” or “created by” so that only one is showing?

    Thanks again! L

  • Srinath,
    As long as you turn on indexing on the modified column for all of your other lists, this should work. I’ve never done it for site pages, though.

    Sorry no, there isn’t any way to customize those fields via the regular web part settings. I guess JavaScript may be the only way to accomplish that.

  • Hi , i had followed the steps u mentioned above. i got What’s new Web part activated and it is working fine.
    My Question: The date is Displayed in normal fashion like “23/7/2014”. But I WANT TO DISPLAY IT AS “JULY 23”, just like that in your Page. Could you please guide me on that.

  • Sorry Jagan, I don’t know of any way to do any further customizations other than what you see out-of-box.


  • Shame that Sharepoint is so difficult to set up for the average low level site owner.
    Its always
    ..this function is not activated, can only do this with ths type of site or for default list items.
    ..thats only part of enterprise or some other licensing level,
    …update it in sharepoint designer, use a script

    Why do I need to know all this just to see a simple central whats new notification?

    Thats why sharepoint ends up mostly being a glorified document library for most corporations. Shame as it could be so good, instead its probably the most frustrating thing ever.

  • “shame”,
    I agree, and I think Microsoft has addressed a lot of those type of needs with the Content Search web part in 2013. It’s pretty awesome.

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