How to Make a OneDrive Folder for Collaboration and Sharing Outside of Your Domain

Office 365 offers so many tools for collaboration that can be extended beyond just your coworkers. Include vendors, clients, or other third parties in a shared folder to work together towards a common goal.

OneDrive and SharePoint open up a lot of collaborative possibilities. While collaboration most often occurs within a company there are a lot of instances where files may need to be shared between different companies. Sometimes you may need a vendor to upload documents to your SharePoint folder or work with a consultant to fill out a cyber security checklist. Whatever the case may be, creating a common shared folder while still maintaining security for you other folders and documents can be a simple process. Just follow our steps laid out in this guide!

Decide on the folder location

Wherever you place your folder it will default to the parent folder permissions. Consider where this folder may work best within your current workflow and if any sensitive information may be uploaded by a client. While you can get really specific about folder permissions, having too many exceptions to parent folder properties can create confusion which is bad for maintaining information security. For example, if you have a SharePoint site for each client, you may want to continue with that workflow and add the folder there. However, some prefer to make a new site for external shares so they can disable external sharing entirely for the original client site.

As always, you also want to decide between SharePoint and OneDrive. If you are the primary point of contact for a client, it may make sense for this folder/correspondence to exist in your OneDrive. That way you can be the only one to control who gets access and make adjustments as circumstances change. Alternatively, if other teammates will need access, even just as backup for when you are out of the office, SharePoint can better allow for multiple people at your company to have control.

Basically, using OneDrive allows you to be the sole controller of the share permissions while SharePoint is often a shared responsibility among team members.

Create a new folder and review existing permissions

Creating a new folder is easy. While in the page for your chosen location, click the plus new dropdown at the upper left and select folder. 

Name your folder. I recommend something that makes it obvious that this is a shared folder if this is a newer workflow for your team.

This next step is optional but recommended. I mentioned new folders taking on the permissions of the parent folders, but if you’re not sure exactly what those are, now is the time to check. To do so, click the dot dot dot next to the folder and then select manage access.

This will bring up a quick menu with current view/edit permissions. It will let you know who can access and how much access they have. The example below shows which person or Team is the owner, and the pencil symbols represent if the groups specified can edit or just view. 

Share an invite or a link to your folder

When you are ready to share this folder, you have a few options for how you share and what access you want to give. Click share at the top from within a folder. (You can also do this from the parent folder by clicking the folder and then share). This will bring up your share options.

Clicking on the first arrow will allow you to change the invite to include anyone who is granted access either by a link or specific people who are sent an invite. If the option you want is grayed out, you will need an administrator to enable this for your folder. The checkbox at the bottom determines if recipients of the invite or link can make edits. This must be checked off to allow collaboration and users to upload files to the folder. Once you have made your selection, click apply.

To send an invite, enter the person’s email address that you want to share with and click send. 

To send a link either use the same share options as above or click the copy link button in the top ribbon. As before, review the permission for that link before sending it to anyone. For external sharing, you will want to use the anyone with a link option. This option can less secure because it can be forwarded to someone who you didn’t intend to have access. However, specific users or people with existing access require the invitation procedure above. (You can always send those users a link after they are invited if its more convenient that way.)

When using the anyone with a link can edit option, you can also change more settings on links such as requiring a password or an expiration. Make your selections and click apply.

Revoke access to a folder

If the folder you created no longer needs to be shared such as something just for the duration of a project, you can revoke access granted by invitations and links. Right click on the folder or click the dot dot dot and then select manage access.

Depending on how you shared the folder, there will be a few areas to revoke access. You can remove whole links in the top section by clicking the x. If a link was shared with specific people, you can expand the access to view each person and remove individuals from accessing via this link.

The second section is for users with direct access. For these users and groups, you will have to click the drop down and select remove to revoke their access.

You also have the option to change instead of revoking access. Just click the drop down to see more options. You can edit access to whatever best fits your needs going forward.

Now that this folder is set up you can use it for a number of different things. You can work simultaneously on documents with an industry partner, request documents to be uploaded to this shared folder, and more. There are so many ways to use an externally shared folder, but always keep your permissions and access levels in mind. That way you can utilize the full scope of Office 365 collaborative tools while still maintaining good information security practices. 

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