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Manage sharing with external users in Microsoft 365 Small Business

If you're doing work that involves sharing documents or working directly with suppliers, clients, or customers, you may want to share content on your team site or OneDrive for work or school with people outside your organization who don't have licenses for your Microsoft 365 Small Business subscription.

There are three methods you can use to do this:

  • You can share an entire website by inviting outside users to sign in to your website with a Microsoft account or a work or school account.

  • You can share individual documents by inviting outside users to sign in to your website with a Microsoft account or a work or school account.

  • You can send users a guest link that allows individual documents on your website to be viewed anonymously.

If you're looking for more information about how to share a document or site, and who is considered an external user, see Share SharePoint files or folders in Microsoft 365.

Note: These steps apply to Office 365 Small Business, which is no longer available. If you're using a different Microsoft 365 plan, see External sharing overview.

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Targeted releases

Best practices for sharing websites

When you have shared an entire website with a user, that user can log into the website and use the website like a full member. The user can browse, search, view and edit content (depending on the assigned authorization group). He can still view the names of other website users in the People Picker or document metadata. External users will also appear as website users in the People Picker. This means that other people who also use the website can grant these users different permissions than those that you provided to these users when you originally shared the website. You should therefore make sure that you know the identity of external users before you invite them to your website.

When you invite external users to your team site, the users can view content on the team site and all subsites. If you want to prevent external users from accessing important or sensitive content on the team site, you should create a subsite of the team site with individual permissions and then only share that subsite with external users. For more information about permission inheritance, see What is Permission Inheritance?

Likewise, if you want to share a subsite that you've created on your OneDrive for work or school / university website, you want to make sure that that website has its own permissions so that you don't accidentally give users permissions to additional websites or content Grant on your OneDrive for Work or School / University website.

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Best practices for sharing documents

If you share documents using anonymous guest links, the recipients of the invitations can make these guest links available to other users so that they can also view the content. So don't use guest links to share documents with sensitive content. Instead, if you want to minimize the risk of someone sharing an anonymous link, share the document by requiring sign-in.

Decide how the release should be done

When it comes to sharing content externally, note the following:

  • Who do you want to give access to the content of your team sites and all subsites, and what rights do you want the user to have?

  • Who in your organization would you like to give permission to share content externally?

  • Is there any content that is strictly prohibited from being viewed by anyone outside your organization?

Answering these questions will make strategic content sharing planning easier.



Share a website

If you want to share a website and at the same time prevent external users from accessing various internal content of your organization, create a subsite with its own permissions that you use only for external shares.

You need to give people outside your organization ongoing access to information and content on a website. People need the same functions as a full user and the ability to create, edit and view content.

Approving a document with mandatory registration

You need to give someone outside your organization secure access to a particular document so they can review or edit it. However, these people do not need ongoing access to other content on your internal website.

Approving a document without a mandatory registration

You need to share a link to a document with no sensitive or confidential content with people outside of your organization so they can view it or update it with feedback. These people do not need ongoing access to the content of the internal website.

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Activate or deactivate external sharing

The ability to invite external users to the team site is enabled by default so that site owners and site collection administrators can share the team site and all of its subsites with external users at any time. However, if you are the Microsoft 365 admin, you can turn off the feature for all websites so that no future invitations can be sent. If the feature is disabled, external users who are currently invited to the websites will no longer be able to access the websites.

Enabling external sharing is not the same as enabling anonymous access. When external sharing is enabled, users must be authenticated (through their login) before they can access internal resources.

  1. Call Administrator > Service settings > Websites and document sharing on.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Activate external sharing

    • Deactivate external sharing

Security advice:

  • If you turn off sharing with external users, anyone who was able to access the website when the feature was turned off will be denied access to the website and no further invitations will be sent. If the function is reactivated and the names of the external users are still in the SharePoint authorization groups, these users can automatically access the website again. If you want to permanently prevent a user from accessing the SharePoint site, you can remove them from the list of external users.

  • If external sharing is disabled globally, guest shared links will no longer work. If the feature is activated again later, those links can be used again. It is also possible to deactivate individual shared links in order to permanently revoke access to a specific document.

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Remove individual external users

If you need to remove external users so they can no longer access websites that have been shared with you, you can do so by removing them from the external users list in Microsoft 365 Service Settings.

  1. Switch to Administrator > Service settings > Websites and document sharing.

  2. click on Remove individual external users.

  3. Select the external users you want to remove, and then click Clear (the trash can symbol).

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Deactivating a link for anonymous guests

If a document has been shared through a guest link, you can view this information from the document's properties menu. For information on how to share documents using guest links, see Share SharePoint files or folders in Microsoft 365.

You can prevent access to a document that has been shared through a guest link by disabling the link.

  1. Go to the library that contains the document you want to remove a guest link for.

  2. Point to the document and click Open menu.

  3. Click in the sentence Open to anyone with a guest link on a guest link.

  4. Click the button next to the URL of the guest link Clear.

  5. When asked if you want to disable the link, click Deactivate link.

Now, when people outside of your organization try to access the content using the guest link, they will see a message stating that they cannot access it.

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Withdrawing invitations

If you want to withdraw an invitation that you sent to an external user, you can withdraw the invitation before it is accepted.

Go to the website that you want to withdraw an invitation from.

  1. Switch to Settings > Website settings.

  2. Click below Users and Permissions on Access requests and invitations.

  3. Look under Invitations to external users the person whose invitation you want to withdraw, and click Open menu.

  4. In the Properties window, click Take back.

If the external user has already accepted the invitation and you want to prevent their access, you can remove them from the SharePoint permissions group they are assigned to.

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Note: This page has been translated automatically and may contain grammatical errors or inaccuracies. Our goal is to provide you with helpful content. Please let us know if this information was helpful to you. Here is the English article for your reference.