EDIT: The OLD article below is no longer relevant or recommended to use for LISTS in SharePoint Online! There is a new way to do this using the new app Microsoft Lists or by following the steps below! Instead of saving a list as a template you get to choose from a list of existing list templates based on lists you have created in your tenant:
NEW: How to create a list from templates
You can now use any existing list from your tenant as a template when creating a new list in SharePoint online. Or even better, use the new app Microsoft Lists that you can read more about here.
Click on “Site contents” and “New”, choose “List”:
Then click on “From an existing list” in the left side menu and a selection of your existing lists in the tenant rolls up. Select a site and then select the list you want to use as template. Excellent, easy and fast! ⭐
OLD: Classic (old) way to save libraries as templates (Do Not Use for Lists!)
Many times when you setup a document library or a list with lots of metadata columns, views, etc you want to save it as a template so that you can reuse that model on all other sites without having to do the same setup over and over. But if you go to the settings of a modern list/library in SharePoint online you will not find a link to “Save list or library as template” anymore. As an on prem user, you are used to work like this, using templates to be able to setup a list or library quickly somewhere else and that will save you lots of work since you don’t have to recreate the same columns/views etc again. Here are two options to achieve this in SharePoint online:
Option 1: Using Powershell (use only for Libraries)
To enable the “save library as template” option you must run a Powershell command. I tried this and it works just fine: you will see the link in the library settings and if you go to “Add an app” your library template will show up as we are used to. Note: you must go to “add an app” because in modern sites, if you click on “New” and “Document library” you will not see the list of templates.
When things like this are removed or hidden in SharePoint online, it is of course for a reason, but I cannot tell or judge if it’s a risk to enable this link using the PS command. Maybe someone who reads this knows? Then please leave a comment, it would be much appreciated! It has worked fine in my tenant and the libraries that I added using my template works exactly the same as any other modern library. But I can only say: run this at your own “risk” 🙂
The following cmdlet must be run on the site where the library is that you want to save as template, and then also on the other sites where you want to use the template. So you are not enabling the command on your entire tenant. Open SharePoint online management shell and run the following cmdlet: