Microsoft 365’s OneDrive (and Teams/Sharepoint) file sharing is a super helpful tool for accessing your files from anywhere on any device AND sharing those files with coworkers and other collaborators.
However, there is a “trick” for making this file sharing process seamless. Many OneDrive users become frustrated when attempting to share files with people outside of their organization, because their recipients can’t open the files. Instead, they receive an error message saying “you need permission to open this file.”
This situation is easily fixed by one small change in your sharing options, but it is a setting that it easily overlooked. For security reasons, Microsoft assumes by default that you only want to share files with people who are in your organization. If you don’t manually change this security setting, the link you send will only be able to be accessed by those who are registered within your organization. In the screenshot below, my organization, Enable, is selected by default with the setting “People in Enable with the link can edit.“
This is where you can change your sharing permissions to reflect who you would like to be able to access the file with this specific sharing link. To change who you want to share the link with, simply select the “People with…” line to open the options dialog. There you will see four options:
1. Anyone With the Link
This option is the most open-ended. If you are trying to share a file with someone outside your organization, this is the one to choose! This option does not require the recipient to sign in in order to view the file, so it is the easiest to access (but, obviously, the least secure.) Anyone with the link can open the file. To combat the security concern, if you choose this link setting, it will give you the option to include an expiration date for the link and/or a password.
2. People in [my organization] with the link
This link setting limits access the file you are sharing to only people in your organization with the link. This makes it easy for your coworkers to share or forward the link to other team members, or to post the link in common locations like a Microsoft Teams thread or group email without having to specify which users should have access.
3. People with existing access
If you are simply re-sharing a link for convenience, so that someone with whom you’ve already shared the file can access it easily (or someone who already has access to the directory where the file is saved), you can choose this option.
4. Specific people
This option is the most specific link setting. If you want to make sure access is limited specific people, you can individually list those out with this option. These can be members of your organization or external users (if your organization permissions allow it), but they will have to have a Microsoft account and sign in to access the file.
Use the additional options to further control the access you give to file recipients. You can decide whether your recipients can edit the file you are sharing with them, and whether or not you want to allow them to download the file.
Microsoft makes files sharing easy and allows you to give access to as many or as few people as you want! Just make sure you choose the link setting that is right for your situation.
Written by: Elliott Wood, Director of Consulting, Enable Ministry Partners