For business management solutions email us or call 020 3004 4600

How to use External Sharing in Office 365

In most businesses, the ability to be able to share content with external users is a crucial part of the Office 365 conundrum. It has an even greater importance when working with third parties, customers or suppliers that users would need to collaborate with outside of your business. With this in mind, in our latest tips and tricks article we will discuss what external sharing is, the different levels of external users and then take you through how users can share content externally within Office 365. 

So just what is External Sharing? 

From the outside, external sharing in Office 365 is the ability to make documentation or content available to users that work outside of the business.  

From the inside, it can mean something completely different depending on whether or not the content is shared with external users anonymously or with an authenticated external user. 

Who are Anonymous Users? 

A document or folder can be shared with an external user via an anonymous link which means that the person accessing the document cannot be personally identified. These guest users are known as 'anonymous users'. 

If you choose to select this option, your document will be visible to anyone that has access to the link which can also forwarded onto other external users. It is important to note that documents containing sensitive/personally identifiable information should never be shared in this way. 

The person that is sending the document can make the decision as to whether to allow 'view only' or 'editable' access with an expiration date which can be set. 

Essentially, the permissions give access to a hyperlink only rather than a user. 

Who are Authenticated External Users? 

The other way of sharing content is by sharing it with authenticated external users which means that you invite users via email where they need to sign in using an authenticated account before they can access the content. 

As soon as they accept the invitation, they will be automatically added to your organisation's directory as an external user but can only access the elements you have chosen to share with them. Again, it is important to ensure that you don't give them access to your entire site if it contains sensitive/personally identifiable information. 

To be able to see if a user has accepted an invite you can do this by viewing the pending invitations from within your site collection settings then go to the tab 'Access requests and invitations' or you can manually search for the guest users' name in your organization's directory. 

How to share documents with external users in Office 365 

After you have got your IT team to configure your external sharing for SharePoint or OneDrive you are then ready to share your documents with external users. 

To share either a SharePoint or OneDrive Document or Folder with an Anonymous User

Step 1: From within SharePoint or OneDrive go to your 'SharePoint document library' OR 'your OneDrive for Business' where the document or folder you wish to share is situated. Next, select it by ticking the circle to the left of the document or folder. 

How to share SharePoint document library

Step 2: Select 'Share' and 'Anyone' in the link settings. This will determine whether guest users can edit the document, after this make sure that you set an expiry date for the hyperlink. 

Step 3: After this select 'Apply' which will then provide you with a link which you can copy or send via email to your chosen external user which won’t require them to login to access it. 

To share a Document with an Authenticated External User 

Step 1: The process of sharing a document or folder with an authenticated user is as easy as creating an anonymous link. Go to the link settings, from here select the 'Specific people' option and add the email address of the user you wish to share it with along with the level of access you wish to give them. 

How to share a document with external users

From the above the other two options available under 'Anyone' are options that you can use to share a document with users that are already within your organisation's directory. 

Step 2: After selecting 'Apply', you can either to choose to copy the link to your clipboard or send it out via email. This will show you that only the people you have specifically invited will be able to access this document. You will also be able to see who currently has access to the document. 

Step 3An invite to the document will be sent out to the guest user which will need to be accepted. Once they have accepted the invite, they will then need to login using a trusted email address which will then add them to the organisation directory. 

To share a SharePoint Site with Authenticated External Users 

Step 1: The process of sharing a whole SharePoint site with an external authenticated user is almost the same as the above. Navigate your way to the site and then select the 'Share' button in the top right hand corner. 

Step 2: After selecting this, a pop-up window will appear where you can add the individual email addresses of those users that you wish to invite to your site. 

Step 3: After you have done this, the users will receive an invite to login and access the site. As with the above, if the user accepts the invite, they will then be added to the organisation's directory. 

If your business is struggling to setup external sharing in Office 365 or is not sure how to setup and use Microsoft SharePoint or needs some additional Office 365 training then talk to Advantage today to discuss your specific business needs. 

Enjoying what you are reading? Then keep in touch with us by signing up to our mailing list to begin receiving the latest tech and industry insight, leading opinion articles, tips and tricks, webinars, white papers and much more delivered straight to your inbox. 


Intelligence Hub
Related Articles