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Sharing files with internal or external users in both OneDrive & SharePoint is something we get asked a lot, it can be a little confusing on exactly how this works and what the do’s and don’ts are so this post is to clear some of these questions up.

Opening the document sharing panel

The process for sharing is identical in SharePoint & OneDrive, simply click the vertical dots next to your document and select share





The following dialog box now opens











Now we need to determine the level of access we want to grant to this document and to whom we want to grant them, to do this, click on the “anyone with the link can edit” icon, the following screen then appears.














First, let’s take a look at each of the options for whom this link should work.

Anyone with the link

This means that any user on the internet will have access to your document if they have the link, so if it is forwarded to them via an email they can gain access.
You should use this option with extreme caution, in fact I’d go as far as to say that you should never select this option, unless you have a really, really goood reason to do so, it simply isn’t secure enough.

People in your organisation with this link

Sharing will be restricted to people only within your own company, so we’re getting more restrictive now but again, use with caution, do you really need to share this with everyone in your company? maybe you do but give it some though, it’s always preferable to share with a small group and then open up later if necessary.

People with existing access

This option does not change any file permissions, it is simply a way to generate a link to the file should you wish to share it again with a particular user (they may have misplaced the invitation email and would like another link to the file).

Specific People

Now we’re getting down to granular levels, once we’ve clicked apply, this allows us to start typing the names of users within your own company who will receive permissions to the file, I’d always recommend using this option as it gives highest level of control, you can always share the file further and wider at a later date if you wish.

This can also work for external users outside of your organisation, more on that a little later in this post.

Other Settings

Personally, I think these options should be at the top of the dialog box as in my opinion they are the most important, here you can select whether a file can be edited by those you’re sharing with (again, use caution, only allow editing if you really need to and also, restrict the number of users who can edit versus those can read).

The set expiration date is also a useful option, restricting the time frame in which the file is accessible may be an option you’d like to consider.

Set password, something of a confusing option, this sets a password on the sharing link and NOT on the document itself, useful if you want to add an extra layer of security, just make sure to send the link password separately.

Block Download, useful if you want to force the end user to viewing your document only in a browser and to prevent them from storing a copy on their own computer, therefore preventing them from forwarding to other users.

Accessing the files

Once you’ve shared the file, users within your own organisation will receive an email with a link to the file, they simply click on the link and they are taken to the file and can view/edit as you’ve specified.
They can also find any file that has been shared with them within OneDrive, yes, even files which are stored in SharePoint (OneDrive and SharePoint are essentially the same product, yes, we know it’s confusing).





External Access

If your administrator has enabled this option then it is possible to share documents outside of your own organisation with others, regardless of whether they have an Office 365 account of their own.

You should use external sharing with extreme caution, use only as a last resort and ensure that you have applied the most restrictive permissions to prevent unauthorised access to your company data.

To share externally just type in the users email address when using the “specific people” option, when the end user receives the link, how they access it depends on whether they have their own Office 365 account, if they do then they simply need to login with their own Office 365 credentials when they click on the link, nice and easy.

If they don’t and are using an email service such as gmail, then they will be presented with a screen like the one below.


They will receive an additional email with a code they need to input in order to gain access to the document, this is because non Office 365 users need to be validated as being a genuine user and the rightful recipient of the link.









I hope that this post has helped clear up some of the confusion around document sharing in Office 365, key points to remember.

  • Share only with the most restricted number of users
  • Restrict permissions to the file as much as you can, do they really need to edit the document?
  • Share externally with extreme caution, if in any doubt then don’t share the file externally before you consult an expert (the ISAAC team are, by the way, experts in this area)!