This SharePoint tutorial, we will discuss SharePoint online external sharing.
We will see how to enable external sharing at the organization level from the Office 365 admin center as well as how we can enable external sharing at the site collection level in SharePoint Online.
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What is external sharing in SharePoint Online
Let us first understand what is external sharing in SharePoint Online Office 365.
SharePoint Online allows organization users to share content with people outside of your organization. The users may be your partners, clients, vendors or customers.
It also allows users to share content with licensed users on multiple Office 365 subscriptions. In case your organization is having more than one Office 365 subscriptions, then you can share between them.
By default external sharing in ON in the SharePoint Online environments.
The default sharing setting for Office 365 group-connected team sites is “New and existing guests.” The default for communication sites and classic sites is “Only people in your organization.”
How to enable SharePoint Online external sharing
We can enable external sharing in SharePoint Online at the organization level as well as at the SharePoint site level.
First, you need to enable external sharing at the organization level. Then we can restrict external sharing at the site level. Any SharePoint site you do not want to share with external users, you can disable external sharing for that particular site.
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Best Practices for external sharing
You should not share any SharePoint site externally if your site contains any confidential information. You should store your confidential information in a separate SharePoint site, where external sharing is turned off.
The best approach is to create a separate SharePoint site and store contents which you want to share with your external users. And you can only enable external sharing for these sites.
The decision to share contents to external users or not should always be considered at the organization level.
Steps to enable external sharing in SharePoint Online
Now, we will see steps to enable external sharing in SharePoint Online.
First, we need to enable at the Office 365 level (organization level).
Login to Microsoft 365 Admin Center.
Click on Settings -> Services -> then click on SharePoint
Then you can select one from the below options:
- Only people in your organization – no external sharing allowed
- Existing guests only – only guests already in your organization’s directory
- New and existing guests – guests must sign in or provide a verification code
- Anyone – users can share files and folders using links that don’t require sign-in
Select Only people in your organization option, if you do not want to enable external sharing for your organization.
If you will select Anyone – users can share files and folders using links that don’t require sign-in, then external users can just access the site without entering anything, just from a link.
Anyone knows the link, can access the SharePoint site.
Once you enable at the organization level, we need to enable at the SharePoint site lelvel.
Open the SharePoint Admin center.
Then click on Active Sites which will open the active sites page, where you can see all the SharePoint sites.
Then click on the particular site which you want to share with external users, then click on Policies and click on the Edit link in the External sharing section.
Then in the External sharing options, select one of the below options:
- Anyone – Users can share files and folders using links that don’t require sign-in
- New and existing guests – Guest must sign in or provide a verification code
- Existing guests only – Only guests already in your organization’s directory
- Only people in your organizations – No external sharing allowed
If you do not want to share with external users then you can select “Only people in your organizations“.
We can also share with specific domains. Click on Add domains.
Here, you can allow and block specific domains if you want.
Here you can set the default sharing link type.
Also, you can define when the link will expire.
Uncheck the Same as organization-level settings which are under the Expiration of Anyone links.
Then you can select These links never expires or you can mention, the number of days when the link will expire in These links must expire within this many days option.
You can also set the default link permission.
Click on Save to save the changes. This will enable external sharing for the SharePoint site.
Then in the Same Active Sites, you can see if External sharing is enabled or not like below:
Share SharePoint site with external users in Outlook web (Office 365 group enabled site)
Then click on the Group name like below:
Then go to Members -> Add members and enter the external name email address.
Once you add, you can see the user like below:
The external user will receive an email like below:
This way, you can share the entire SharePoint Online site with external users.
Share a SharePoint Online document library with external users
We can also share a document library with external users in SharePoint Online.
Before you share a document library with external users make sure, you have enabled external sharing in Office 365 (organization) level as well as at the particular SharePoint site level by following the above steps.
Open the SharePoint Online document library, from the gear icon click on Library Settings.
In the Library Settings page, click on Permissions for this document library.
Then click on Stop Inheriting permissions like below:
Then click on Grant Permissions like below:
Then enter the external user email address like below:
Once you click on Share, you can see the external user is having access to the SharePoint Online document library.
The external user will receive a notification like below:
This is how we can share a document library with external users in SharePoint Online.
You may like following SharePoint tutorials:
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- Sync SharePoint Online Document Library with OneDrive and Work with Files Offline
In this SharePoint tutorial we learned:
- What is external sharing in SharePoint Online
- How to enable SharePoint Online external sharing
- Best Practices for external sharing
- Steps to enable external sharing in SharePoint Online
- Share SharePoint site with external users in Outlook web (Office 365 group enabled site)
- Share a SharePoint Online document library with external users
I am Bijay a Microsoft MVP (10 times – My MVP Profile) in SharePoint and have more than 17 years of expertise in SharePoint Online Office 365, SharePoint subscription edition, and SharePoint 2019/2016/2013. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies a SharePoint development, consulting, and training company. I also run the popular SharePoint website EnjoySharePoint.com