Saving files from a SharePoint document library to a local folder using CSOM3 min read

March 28, 2018 0 By Hugo Bernier

(OR: How to solve the "this property cannot be set after writing has started." error when calling OpenBinaryDirect)

The Problem

I was trying to write a little app to programmatically download files from a SharePoint instance on Office 365 to a local folder on my hard-drive/network file share -- something I've probably done a thousand times -- using this code:

* This code assumes you already have filled the following variables
* earlier in the code
* Code has been simplified for 
var webUrl = "";
var username = "";
var password = "pleasedonteverwriteyourpasswordincode";
var listTitle = "yourdocumentlibrarytitle";
var destinationFolder = @"C:temp";

var securePassword = new SecureString();
//Convert string to secure string
foreach (char c in password) {

using (var context = new ClientContext(webUrl))
    // Connect using credentials -- use the approach that suits you
    context.Credentials = new SharePointOnlineCredentials(userName, securePassword);

    // Get a reference to the SharePoint site
    var web = context.Web;

    // Get a reference to the document library
    var list = context.Web.Lists.GetByTitle(listTitle);

    // Get the list of files you want to export. I'm using a query
    // to find all files where the "Status" column is marked as "Approved"
    var camlQuery = new CamlQuery
        ViewXml = @"

    // Retrieve the items matching the query
    var items = list.GetItems(camlQuery);

    // Make sure to load the File in the context otherwise you won't go far
    context.Load(items, items2 => items2.IncludeWithDefaultProperties
        (item => item.DisplayName, item => item.File));

    // Execute the query and actually populate the results

    // Iterate through every file returned and save them
    foreach (var item in items)
        using (FileInformation fileInfo = Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.File.OpenBinaryDirect(context, item.File.ServerRelativeUrl))
	    // Combine destination folder with filename -- don't concatenate
            // it's just wrong!
            var filePath = Path.Combine(destinationFolder, item.File.Name);

            // Erase existing files, cause that's how I roll
            if (System.IO.File.Exists(filePath))

            // Create the file
            using (var fileStream = System.IO.File.Create(filePath))

The "usings" at the top of the file were:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Security;
using Microsoft.SharePoint.Client;
using System.IO;

And every time I ran the code, I'd get a really annoying error on the OpenBinaryDirect method:

this property cannot be set after writing has started.

If I wasn't already bald, I would be after searching everywhere how to solve it.

The Solution

As it turns out, when I created my console application, I followed these steps:

  1. Launch Visual Studio
  2. File | New Project... | Console Application and saved the project
  3. On the newly created project, added Microsoft.SharePoint.Client references by right-clicking on the project's References and selecting Manage Nuget Packages and selecting the first nuget reference that had Microsoft.SharePoint.Client that looked semi-official -- you know, the one that says "by Microsoft"

Wrote the code and quickly ran into the aforementioned error.

As it turns out, I needed to use the Nuget package that said Microsoft.SharePointOnline.CSOM (also by Microsoft).

I removed the Microsoft.SharePoint.Client Nuget package and added Microsoft.SharePointOnline.CSOM instead. It automatically included the right Microsoft.SharePoint.Client and Microsoft.SharePoint.Client.RunTime dependencies it needed.

After recompiling, it worked perfectly.

The way it should have done several hours ago.

After a lot of cursing, mostly directed at myself, I decided to write this down as a #NoteToSelf. Next time I run into this issue, at least I'll find a blog entry describing the solution.

My own.