Box Content Management Guidelines

Below are basic guidelines for managing content in WUSTL Box. These are not policies. They are simply intended to enhance your experience while using WUSTL Box:

Department Box Folders

If you are going to create a Box folder for your department that will ultimately contain many thousands of files, consider requesting a free “Department Box Folder” by submitting a General Service Request Form. These folders are owned by a non-person account titled “WUSTL Box Storage”, with you set as the co-owner. This allows for easy maintenance and hand-off to new co-owners when people change roles or leave the university.

If you are currently the owner of a large shared folder that is used daily by a large group of people, you may want to request that WashU IT change the owner to ‘WUSTL Box Storage’ and set you as a co-owner.  This will ensure that the folder persists if you change roles or leave the university.

Folder Structure for Granular Permissions

Since parent folder permissions always flow down to all child folders, you should build your department folder structure around your intent to grant access.


  • Top-level department folder (two co-owners high up in the department, perhaps the Director and Associate Director), which contains:
    • Shared Department content (everyone in department has access)
    • Finance Team Folder (only members of the finance team have access)
    • Marketing Team Folder (only members of the marketing team have access)

By not granting broad access to the parent folder, you can easily maintain more granular access on child folders.

Organization of Content that You Own

Place all folders and files that you own into a single folder at the root (top level) of your Box account. This folder could be called something as simple as “Jane’s Files”. The root level of your Box account will gradually contain many folders that are shared with you, which cannot be reorganized. This strategy makes it easy to have a folder containing only your content, which then doesn’t get “mixed in” with content from other collaborators.

Remove Shared Folders you No Longer Need

If you were invited to a folder, but no longer need access to those files, you can easily remove yourself from the folder using these steps:

  1. Select the folder that is shared with you by clicking on the white space next to the folder.
  2. Right-click on the white space next to the folder and choose …More Actions, then End Collaboration.


  1. Select the folder that is shared with you by clicking on the white space next to the folder.
  2. On the list of collaborators on the right, select the ellipses button ( … ) next to your name
  3. Select Remove

Use Descriptive Folder Names

Many individuals will create and share folders titled with simple terms such as “Budgets” or “Projects”. This can make it difficult to determine which “Projects” folder you are looking for. Instead, opt for more descriptive folder names such as “FY19 WashU IT Budget Planning” or “2019 Engineering Team Projects”. Using descriptive folder names avoids confusion and allows for more effective Box Search functionality.

Use the Box Search Feature

Since WashU Box customers may create folders with any structure desired, there will always be some level of inconsistency to the folder structure of content that is shared with you. Rather than learning and adapting to a folder structure that a colleague determined, use the Box Search feature. The next time you intend to open a file in Box, rather than navigating to the folder where the file resides, type in a few search terms in the Box Search bar and quickly navigate to either the file or folder desired.

Working with Collaborative Content

When multiple people are working on the same file, it is recommended to work in the online Office applications. Using the online Office applications allow multiple people to work on the same document at the same time, thus avoiding accidentally creating conflicting versions.

If you are working on your desktop Office application (not the web version), be sure to lock the file in Box before opening with Box Edit or Box Drive. This will prevent others from editing the file until you unlock the file.

  1. In the Box application, select the More Options ellipses ( … ) for the file.
  2. Select Lock
  3. Select your desired options, then select Lock
  4. A lock icon will appear for the file
  5. To unlock, select the ellipses or the lock icon and choose Unlock

Online Office applications are applications like Word or PowerPoint used within your web browser.

Desktop Office applications are applications like Word or PowerPoint installed on your computer.

Be Cautious About Marking Folders for Offline Access

In order to avoid overrunning your computer’s hard drive with files that are too large, check folder and files sizes before marking them for offline access. It’s recommended to only mark folders and files for offline access when you know that you will have limited internet access for an extended period. For example, when on a plane or in a remote area.

Avoid Special Characters in File and Folder Names

When naming files, Mac users are able to use characters that are invalid in Windows file names, such as “/ ? < > \ * | “.  If these characters are used in file or folder names, issues can arise when attempting to open these files or folders on a Windows operating system.

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