Share a Sharepoint O365 site with external users

People who need to see or work with your site content but who don’t have user accounts for your SharePoint Online environment are considered “external users.” External users might be vendors or customers, for example. With SharePoint Online, after you activate the feature, you can invite an external user to your site just by sending them an email.

This topic covers: how a SharePoint Online administrator enables the external sharing feature for all of the SharePoint site collections in their SharePoint Online environment; how site collection administrators can activate theExternal user invitation feature for each site collection; how site owners can invite external users to work within specific sites and sub-sites; and how to associate any email address with a Microsoft account.

When you share a site in SharePoint, an email message is sent to the external user containing the invitation to join your site. You can send the invitation to people with any type of email address, such as *.gmail.com, *.contoso.com, or *.comcast.net. However, to log in to your SharePoint site, the email address has to be associated with a Microsoft account.

In this article

Enable or disable external users for a SharePoint environment

Enable external sharing for SharePoint Online

Disable external sharing for SharePoint Online

Turn external sharing on or off for a site collection

Activate external sharing for a site collection

Inactivate external sharing for a site collection

Share your site with external users

Associate an email address with a Microsoft account

As a SharePoint Online administrator, you can allow or deny external collaboration for your SharePoint Online deployment by enabling or disabling the Manage External Users feature. If you enable external users, then any site collection administrator can turn on the External user invitations feature for his or her site collection.

As a site collection administrator for SharePoint Online, if the SharePoint Online administrator has allowed external user access, then you can turn on the External user invitation feature for your site collection. By default it is off and no one can invite users to the site.

Only when the External user invitation feature is enabled for the site collection and Manage external users is set to Allow for the SharePoint Online environment, can site owners or site collection administrators invite people from outside the organization to see and work with content on the SharePoint Online sites.

 NOTE    Whether or not Manage external users is set to Allow, anonymous access is not allowed. Users must be authenticated before they can use internal resources.

Enable or disable external users for a SharePoint environment

 NOTE    Only SharePoint Online administrators can complete these procedures.

ENABLE EXTERNAL SHARING FOR SHAREPOINT ONLINE

By default, SharePoint Online does not allow external users. To enable the potential for external users to be invited to any of the site collections in your environment, do the following steps.

  1. Sign in to the SharePoint Online Administration Center.
  1. On the home page, click Manage Site Collections.
  2. On the Site Collections page, click Settings and then click Manage External Users.
  3. In the External Users dialog box, click Allow.
  4. Click Save.

After you’ve set the SharePoint environment to allow external users, site collection administrators can activate the External user invitations feature for their individual site collections to enable invitations to be sent to external users. After the feature is enabled for a site collection, anyone in the SharePoint site Owners group or anyone with site collection administration permissions can send invitations to users. For more information about permissions and SharePoint groups, see the articles in the See Also section.

DISABLE EXTERNAL SHARING FOR SHAREPOINT ONLINE

After SharePoint Online is set to allow external user access to all site collections, a SharePoint Online administrator can disable External Users. This prevents any new invitations from being sent, and prevents current external users from accessing sites or content by denying them access.

Use these procedures to disable external sharing on all site collections.

  1. Sign in to the SharePoint Online Administration Center.
  2. On the home page, click Manage Site Collections.
  3. On the Site Collections page, click Settings and then click Manage External Users.
  4. In the External Users dialog box, select Deny.
  5. Click Save.

SECURITY   If you change the setting back to Allow, any external users who had permission to access sites and content will automatically be granted those permissions.

Turn external sharing on or off for a site collection

NOTE    Only site collection administrators can complete these procedures.

ACTIVATE EXTERNAL SHARING FOR A SITE COLLECTION

After the SharePoint Online environment has been set to allow external sharing, site collection administrators can choose whether or not to allow external users to be invited to sites in their site collections. Use these procedures to allow external sharing for a site collection.

  1. Sign in to the site collection for which you want to enable external users.
  2. On the site collection home page, click Site Actions, then click Site Settings, and then under Site Collection Administration, click Site collection features.
  3. In the Site Collection Administration Features page, under the list of features, for External user invitations, click Activate.

After you’ve activated external user invitations for the site collection, anyone in the SharePoint Owners group or anyone who has site collection administrator permissions can send email messages to invite external users and then assign them appropriate permissions to access sites. For more information about SharePoint permissions and groups, see the articles in the See Also section.

INACTIVATE EXTERNAL SHARING FOR A SITE COLLECTION

If a site collection is set to allow external user access, you can change the setting on the site collection so that no future invitations can be sent. A user who has permission to sites and content will continue to have access to the site collection unless they are removed from the site’s permissions page.

You can set the site collection back to allow external user invitations at any time.

  1. Sign in to the site collection for which you want to disable external users.
  2. On the site collection home page, click Site Actions, then click Site Settings, and then under Site Collection Administration, click Site collection features.
  3. In the Site Collection Administration Features page, under the list of features, for External user invitations, click Deactivate.

 NOTE    Deactivating the External user invitations feature on the site collection does not block access to external users who previously had access to sites and content, it only prevents future invitations from being sent. To prevent an external user from accessing a site once permission was granted, you must either explicitly remove the user’s name from the site permissions page or disable external sharing for all site collections.

Share your site with external users

 NOTE    Only users who are members of the SharePoint Owners group or who are site collection administrators can complete this procedure.

This procedure explains how to invite an external user to access your SharePoint Online sites or sub-sites.

When you invite an external user to use your sites, you have the option to give them Visitor or Member permissions. Visitors have read access and Members have read and write access to the site or sites. For more information about SharePoint permission groups, see the links in the See Also section.

  1. From any page in the site, click Site Actions, and then click Share Site.
  2. Type the e-mail address of the external user you want invite into either the <site name> Visitors box, or the <site name> Members box; where <site name> is the name of your site.
  3. In the Message box, type an e-mail to the user to remind them why they are receiving permission to the site.
  4. Click Share.

The person you have invited to the site receives an email that includes a link to accept the invitation. To accept the invitation, the invitee needs to provide an email address that is associated with a Microsoft account, or, if they’re an existing Office 365 customer, a Microsoft Online Services ID. If they don’t have an email address or a Microsoft account, they can create one for free. The email address that is associated with the Microsoft account, the Hotmail, Live, or MSN address, or the Microsoft Online Services ID is the email address the person uses to log in to your SharePoint site.

 NOTES 

Keep in mind that once you invite external users to your site, it is easy to grant them permission to other sites. Ensure that you know the identity of users who are invited through e-mail and consider reconfirming their identity before granting an external user access to content.An external user invitation can be accepted only one time. The invitation email can be forwarded to another recipient who can use the invitation to access the SharePoint site. However, after the e-mail invitation has been accepted, it expires.

If you attempt to invite an external user to use your site when your company has set SharePoint Online to deny external users, you will see a note in the Share Site box that that says, “Invitations to users outside your organization are currently disabled.”

Associate an email address with a Microsoft account

To use an email address, such as *.contoso.com, to log on to a SharePoint Online site, the email address must first be associated with Microsoft account. You can register an email address with your Microsoft account by following the steps at this website.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Very good written article. It will be supportive to anyone who utilizes it, including me. Keep doing. Looking to reading your next post.

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