Save Site as a Template and use it to create a Site Collection in SharePoint Online

Recently I was browsing the TechNet Forums like I usually do a few times a week, and I’ve seen a question a user was asking, which intrigued me.

  • When we save a subsite as a template, can we re-use it to create a Site Collection?

I thought that was a good question, especially in SharePoint Online (where things are a bit “restricted”), and I’ve never had this request either so… What’s the best way to know if that’s possible? You got it. Try!
So I went into my own Office 365 environment, and started to play around, trying to achieve what the user was asking for.

Needless to say that I was happy to be able to help this user at the end 

Save Site as a Template

First thing to do, is obviously to save your site as a template for re-use.

Navigate to your Site Collection, then choose one of your subsite.

  • Go to Site Settings >> Save site as a template (under Site Actions)
  • Give it a File name
  • Give it a Template name
  • [OPTIONAL] – Include the content
    • not recommended if you create a new Site Collection. Remember? Isolation… Security…
    • Or the content should not be sensitive
    • Or… you have your reasons to include the content…….
  • Click on “OK
Save Site as a Template
  • The template is now created and available in the Solution Gallery
Site Template created

By clicking on “OK“, you are redirected to the subsite you saved as a template.
We need to go to the Solution Gallery, but this is only available under the Site Collection.

Navigate to the root of the site collection >> Site Settings, OR you can still go under Site Settings from the subsite >> “Go to top level site settings” (under Site Collection Administration)

Now, under Web Designer Galleries, click on “Solutions

Solution Gallery

Here, you’ll have a list of your “solutions“, and our new template is listed:

Template listed

Time to save the template to use later…

  • Click on the solution name (it’s a link) to save it locally on your machine
    • This will save the solution with a .WSP extension

Create the New Site Collection

Now let’s create a new Site Collection where we’ll use the new template.

  • Navigate to the SharePoint Admin Center >> New >> Private site collection
  • Create the Site Collection like you normally would BUT select the “Custom” tab with “Select a template later…
  • Access your new Site Collection, and you’ll be asked to choose a template >> Click on the “Solution Gallery” link (currently the “Custom” tab isn’t showing up)
  • Click on the “Upload Solution” in the ribbon >> Browse to the location where you saved the template earlier >> Click on “OK
  • Then click on “Activate” in the ribbon
Uploading the solution to the Site Collection
Activate the solution

That’s all for the solution (template) – It’s now activated 

Assign the Template to the new Site Collection

Re-access your new site collection from the SharePoint Admin Center, and observe that the “Custom” tab is now present!

Select it, and click on “OK

Template now available

The last thing to do is to choose your groups (new ones OR existing), and you’re good to go!

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