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Summary: Microsoft has introduced SharePoint to simplify Office 365 file sharing with external users. This article explores SharePoint Online External sharing, its permission levels, and how to enable it globally or per site, ensuring secure collaboration with external partners.

To foster the expansion of a business, it is essential for professionals to engage with a wide array of stakeholders, including users, clients, vendors, and partners who operate outside their organization. Effective communication and document sharing with these external entities are imperative. In the past, this was primarily accomplished via email, which, however, proved inconvenient due to inherent drawbacks such as file size restrictions, security concerns, delayed response times, and limited document editing capabilities.

Microsoft quickly addressed the issue and introduced a feasible solution that simplifies Office 365 file sharing. SharePoint allows users to store and organize their data while prioritizing its security. Microsoft added another feather to the cap by enabling users to collaborate with external partners by turning on SharePoint Online External sharing. It allows you to securely share the right files and folders with the right individuals. To do so, you need to enable External sharing SharePoint Online. It is an intricate process, and this article will guide you through all the details of it.

What is SharePoint Online External sharing?

SharePoint Online’s External Sharing feature encompasses the seamless process of sharing content with individuals external to your organization. This invaluable capability grants users the freedom to share not only single documents but also entire teams, channels, or sites with external parties such as customers, clients, vendors, and partners. The ability to enable External Sharing in SharePoint Online is accessible at both the organizational and site levels, offering versatility and control in managing your collaboration efforts.

What are the different levels of External sharing in SharePoint Online?

There are a few permissions that set the course for External sharing. These can be applied to the entire organization or each site. You can allocate these SharePoint permissions easily. It is applied overall for the organization, but you can choose the same or more restrictive permission for an individual site.

Permission level Description (Most to least permissive)
Anyone This feature enables you to effortlessly share documents via a link, granting access to the content without requiring identity authentication. This method is commonly referred to as “Anonymous sharing.” Anyone links represent the most straightforward way to make information accessible, but you can still exercise control to safeguard your data.
New and existing guests In this configuration, gaining access to shared content necessitates signing in with either a Microsoft account or a school or work account. New guests are promptly provided with an invitation or a one-time code to verify their identity, whereas existing guests can seamlessly access the data without additional authentication steps.
Existing guests You can effortlessly share files and folders with external guests who have been included in your directory’s “External Guests” section. These individuals may have been added manually to the directory or accepted a sharing invitation previously. To view a list of these existing guests, simply navigate to the guest page within the Microsoft 365 admin center.
Only people in your organization This represents the default permission setting for SharePoint Online External sharing, which restricts the sharing of documents with external members. Only users within the organization have access to the content. Enabling this setting results in all guest access being revoked within one hour.
How to enable External sharing in SharePoint Online?

Every organization consists of a complex structure that deals with numerous functions. The same is the case with SharePoint Online sharing with external users. It involves various aspects which can be modified according to your business’s requirements and communication flexibility. A Global Administrator or SharePoint Administrator can enable and customize permissions in SharePoint Online, even for External sharing, as per organization or per-site basis, by following these methods –

Enable External sharing globally-

You can use these settings to manage sharing at the organizational level-

  1. Open the SharePoint admin center. On the left panel, click on Policies and select Sharing.SharePoint admin center
  2. From the following, select the sharing level at the organizational level:
    • Anyone
    • New and existing guests
    • Existing guests
    • Only people in your organization

    The default is set at Anyone for SharePoint and OneDrive.Anyone for SharePoint and OneDrive

  3. Click on the downward arrow next to More external sharing settings to apply additional settings.More external sharing
  4. Limit external sharing by domain You can limit or prevent sharing with the domains added here (Maximum 3000).
    Allow only users in specific security groups to share externally You can add up to 12 security groups to share data with Anyone or Authenticated guests.
    Guests must sign in using the same account to which sharing invitations are sent The invitation can be accepted and used by only one account.
    Allow guests to share items they don’t own Guests have permission to share content externally.
    Guess access to a site or OneDrive will expire automatically after this many days Set the days after which access to the shared content will expire.
    People who use a verification code must reauthenticate after this many days For users who used a verification code, set a date after which they need to prove their account access.
  5. Scroll down to the File and folder links section. Choose the type of link that’s selected by default when users share files and folders in SharePoint and OneDrive, and it consists of the following options-
  6. Specific people It is the most restrictive option where users can share with specific external members.
    Only people in the organization It is the most suitable option if you share links within your organization and rarely externally.
    Anyone with the link This option is when sharing setting is set to “Anyone.” It is the best choice to share less-sensitive data.

    share less-sensitive data

  7. Here, you can apply some advanced permissions for Anyone links to keep your data secure, and it includes-
    • Link expiration- Set the link’s expiration date to set a fixed date to access the data.
    • Link permission- For files, assign View or View and edit permission. Additionally, assign View or View, edit, and upload permission for Folders.upload permission for Folders
  8. Next is the Other settings section, where you can apply additional settings if your organization needs them.apply additional settings
  9. Finally, Save all the changes applied.
Enable External sharing per site-

The admin can enable External sharing SharePoint Online for the team, communication, and classic sites. The steps to do so so are as follows-

  1. Open the SharePoint admin center. Click on Sites and select Active sites.SharePoint admin center
  2. Select the Site name and click on the Sharing option present above.Site name
  3. Choose the External permission for the Site content.External permission
  4. Scroll down to the other settings. You can set it on the Same as the organization-level setting or choose a different option.Same as the organization-level
  5. At last, Save all the necessary settings.


External sharing in SharePoint empowers users to collaborate seamlessly with individuals outside their organization. This feature can be activated either at the organizational level or on a per-site basis, each offering a comprehensive range of customizable settings tailored to your business needs. For secure and efficient SharePoint data migration, the Kernel SharePoint Migration tool stands out as a practical solution. It provides an all-in-one solution for migrating various data elements, such as site collections, workflows, metadata, lists, and libraries, ensuring a smooth transition.

Kernel Migrator for SharePoint