How do I share documents in Office 365?

If you want to share links to specific documents using MetaShare’s share functions (share documents to users that already have access to them or create public link to a document), see the instructions on this page: How to share a document or a document view.

In Office 365 there are however some other sharing methods, which we describe on this page. Which users you are allowed to share documents with is however something that may vary between organizations as there are a few sharing settings that can be applied to your Office 365 tenant and some that can be set per workspace/site. Beneath we will show you how you, as an end-user, can share a document and further down we also describe how you can revoke/remove a document share.

How to share a document

The instructions below apply to all Office-documents (either opened in their web app or their desktop app) as well as all documents that are opened in SharePoint’s file viewer (see this page for file types that are currently being supported for previewing).

  1. Click on the “Share” icon:
    Office 365 "Share" function
    This is where you find the “Share” icon:
    • Office web apps and Office desktop apps: the top right corner of the application
    • SharePoint’s web viewer: the top left corner of the viewer
  2. A document sharing window pops up. There are slight differences in the form depending on which application you use. The window below is from an Office desktop app:
    A document sharing window
  3. On the top of this form you can now specify who you want to share the document with by clicking anywhere within the box:
    The default sharing with
    You will then be able to define who to share the document with:
    Specify who you want to share a document with
    The options that you will be able to choose between are:
    1. Anyone with the link
      1. This option is only enabled if your organization allows sharing anonymous links and the workspace allows external sharing (the site’s sharing setting is set to “Anyone”).
      2. Use this option when you want to share with people (internal or external users) and are comfortable with them passing the link around to other people, inside or outside your organization.
      3. An “Anyone” link is a transferrable, revocable secret key. It’s transferrable because it can be forwarded to others. It’s revocable because by deleting the link, you can revoke the access of everyone who got it through the link. It’s secret because it can’t be guessed or derived. The only way to get access to the document is to get the link, and the only way to get the link is for somebody to give it to you.
      4. Authenticated users will not be able to see the document from SharePoint search unless they first access the document through the link. After this the document will be shown in SharePoint search.
      5. With this link you do not need to be signed in to Office 365 and therefore you will be considered as an anonymous user. Any edits on the document by anonymous users will update the document with “Modified by” = “Guest contributor”.
    2. People in your organization with the link
      1. Use this option when you want to share with someone in your organization and are comfortable with them passing the link around to other people inside your organization, but when you want to ensure that the link won’t work for external users.
      2. A “people in my organization” link is a transferrable, revocable secret key. These links only work for people inside your Office 365 organization. When somebody opens a “people in my organization” link, they need to be authenticated as a member in your directory. If they’re not currently signed-in, they’ll be prompted to sign-in.
      3. Authenticated users will not be able to see the document from SharePoint search unless they first access the document through the link. After this the document will be shown in SharePoint search.
    3. People with existing access
      1. Use this option when you want to share a document link with someone that already has access to the document. This option is basically the same as copying the link address of the document.
      2. This option does not change any permissions on the document.
    4. Specific people
      1. Use this option to share with people inside or outside your organization but when you want to make sure it doesn’t work if they forward it on to others.
      2. A “specific people” link is a non-transferable, revocable secret key. A “specific people” link will not work if it’s opened by anybody except for the person specified by the sender. The recipient of “Specific people” links will need to authenticate as the user specified in the link.
      3. The recipients of the “specific people” link will not be able to see the document from SharePoint search unless they first access the document through the link. After this the document will be shown in SharePoint search.
      4. To be able to add external users, your organization must allow external sharing and the workspace must allows external sharing (the site’s sharing setting is set to “Anyone”, “New and existing guests” or “Existing guest only”).
  4. After you select what form of document link you want to create, you can choose what the users can do with the link by defining some options under the “Other settings” section. The options below vary, depending on the link type. If you selected the “People with existing access” link, you will not get any other options to set:
    Define what the users can do with the link
    1. Allow Editing: select or clear the check box depending on what type of access you want to allow. Sometimes your organization may require “Anyone” links to be view-only.
    2. Set expiration date: only available for “Anyone” links. You can set an expiration date after which the link will stop granting access. The maximum expiration date is 730 days (2 years) but your organization may require that “Anyone” links expire after a shorter period of days. In any case you can set an expiration date that is shorter than the maximum period.
    3. Set password: only available for “Anyone” links. The users will just be able to access the document if they get the password that you choose. The password will not be sent along with the mail that is sent, so you will have to share it with them separately.
    4. Block download: to limit the risk of having the document being spread, you can enable this setting. When you select this option, people who gain access to the document via the link will not see options to download, print, or copy the file. They’ll also only be able to view the file in Office Online and will not be able to open the file in Office desktop or mobile clients.
  5. Regardless of which sharing option you choose, add your recipients in the “Enter a name or email address” field and optionally add a personal message in the “Add a message” field:
    Add the document's recipients and optionally add a personal message
    When you click on the “Send” button, you will get a confirmation that the link has been sent. You can just close the pop-up when you are done:
    A confirmation that a link has been sent
    And an e-mail will automatically be sent to the recipients and look like this (note that the type of link is shown on the top, in this case the link is an “Anyone” link):
    The format of the e-mail that is sent to the recipients
  6. If you instead of clicking on the “Send” button, click on any of these 3 options (“Copy link”, “Outlook” or “Send a Copy”):
    Optionally you can choose to copy the link, send the link through Outlook or send the e-mail as an attachment
    The sharing will be the same as when clicking on the “Send” button but with these differences:
    1. Copy link: if you want to just copy the link to your clipboard and maybe share it as a link in a document or on a website.
    2. Outlook: An Outlook message (from your desktop Outlook) will open up with the document’s link in the e-mails body.
    3. Send a Copy: This option is only available when sharing from the Office desktop apps. It will attach the document (a copy) in an Outlook message (from your desktop Outlook). You can choose to send the document in it’s original format or to first convert it to PDF and then attach it:
      Select to attach the document in its original format or to send it as a PDF

How to revoke a shared link and how to see who has accessed a document using a shared link

You can view a document’s available shared links, revoke access to them or see who has access them through their links by:

  1. Clicking on the documents “Share” icon:
    Office 365 "Share" function
    This is where you find the “Share” icon:
    • Office web apps and Office desktop apps: the top right corner of the application
    • SharePoint’s web viewer: the top left corner of the viewer
  2. On the top of the “Send Link” form, click on the ellipsis icon and then the “Manage Access” link:
    How to access the "Manage Access" link
  3. The form’s heading will change to “Manage access”. On the top section of the form, the “Links Giving Access” section, you now see all the created shared links for the document. By clicking on any of the ellipsis icons, next to each of the links:
    The created shared links for a document
    You will get to the specific link’s sharing settings’ page:
    A specific link's sharing settings
    Where you now have the option to:
    1. Revoke the shared link by clicking on the “x” to the right of the link or, in the case of a “Specific people” link, revoke the permissions to a specific person by clicking on the “x” icon next to the person’s name, under the “This link works for” section.
    2. Based on the type of link, you might also be able to change the link’s settings by changing the options under the “Link settings” section.
    3. When revoking access through a shared link, you will be asked for confirmation:
      Are you sure you want to delete this link?
  4. If you open the link’s sharing settings page for an “Anyone” link or a “people in my organization” link, you will also be able to see who has accessed the document, under the “Shared with” section (this will not show anonymous users that are not logged in, when they access the document with an “Anyone” link):
    Who has accessed an Anyone link to a document