how to Microsoft 365 external sharing and Guest access

The ultimate guide: how to enable and disable external sharing in Microsoft 365

Valerie Sergienko November 23, 2022

10 MIN READ

External sharing options in Microsoft 365 are complex, to say the least. There are multiple authorization checkpoints with an array of settings and configurations and it’s no surprise that finding accurate and full information about enabling external sharing in Microsoft 365 can be a nightmare.  

We have put together this truly comprehensive guide on external sharing configuration within Microsoft 365, so follow along as we dig in to see what options are available to you and go through the step-by-step process of enabling external users in Microsoft 365 for each individual external collaboration business application. 

What types of collaborators are available in Microsoft 365?

  1. Users within your organization – individuals in your Azure AD directory who are part of your organization, sign in and access resources using a work email provided by your organization.
  2. External users – A person from outside your organization who is participating in a resource, such as a shared channel using their own identity and not a guest account in your directory. This is enabled by Azure AD B2B direct connect through an organizational relationship configured by both organizations. 
  3. Guest – A person from outside your organization who accesses shared resources by signing in to a guest account in your directory. This is enabled when a Guest account is created in Azure AD which is a result of sharing a file, folder, or access to the SharePoint site, Microsoft Team, or Group.

External users vs. Guest users access comparison

Below you can find the comparison of experiences available to Guests and external users in Microsoft 365: 

 

 

There are great use cases for both types of external collaborators – external users and Guests. We won’t dive into the pros and cons of each in this blog, but we recommend reading 2 other blogs we published shortly after the release of Shared channels.

Shared Channels: Revolution or Missed Opportunity?

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Shared Channels: The Silver Lining

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What are the business applications for external collaboration and Guest access in Microsoft 365?

External sharing and collaboration policies fall under the umbrella of your Microsoft 365 governance. For the purposes of this blog, we will be focusing on breaking down the technical aspects of enabling and disabling external sharing based on each individual business application for external collaboration and Guest Access in Microsoft 365.

 

  • Collaborating with people in chat – 1:1 and group chat in Teams with people outside your organization
  • Collaborating with people in meetings – Teams meetings with people outside your organization
  • Collaborating with people on documents – sharing individual files or folders with people outside your organization
  • Collaborating with people as a team – Inviting people outside of your organization to collaborate within Microsoft Teams, Groups & SharePoint sites
  • Collaborating with people in shared channels (Azure AD direct connect) – External participants access shared resources in your organization by using their own Azure AD or Microsoft 365 identity. 

What external sharing options and Guest access are enabled in Microsoft 365 by default?

By default, Microsoft 365 has certain collaboration options already enabled. Our blog will show you where to find and control these settings: 

Although these settings are enabled by default, people outside of your organization will not have access to the resources or apps unless a user in your organization initiates one of these activities. You can disable any of these settings if you don’t want to allow that activity in your organization. 

Enabling, configuring & disabling external collaboration options in Microsoft 365

Enabling Guest Access and external sharing in Azure AD Amin Center

Any type of sharing in Microsoft 365 is governed at its highest level by the B2B external collaboration settings in Azure Active Directory. If guest-sharing is disabled or restricted in Azure AD, this setting overrides any sharing settings that you configure in Microsoft 365. By default, this setting is enabled in Azure AD, but if you were looking to configure it, or disable it, you can complete that by following the steps below:

To set external collaboration settings:

  • Log in to Azure Active Directory at https://aad.portal.azure.com.
  • In the left navigation pane, click Azure Active Directory.
  • Click External identities.
  • On the Get started screen, in the left navigation pane, click External collaboration settings.
  • Ensure that either Member users and users assigned to specific admin roles can invite guest users including guests with member permissions or Anyone in the organization can invite guest users including guests and non-admins are selected.
  • If you made changes, click Save.

 

 

Note the settings in the Collaboration restrictions section. Make sure that the domains of the guests that you want to collaborate with aren’t blocked and alternatively, if you are looking to block specific domains, you can add them here.

If you work with guests from multiple organizations, you may want to restrict their ability to access directory data. This will prevent them from seeing who else is a guest in the directory. To do this, under Guest user access restrictions, select Guest users have limited access to properties and membership of directory objects settings, or Guest user access is restricted to properties and memberships of their own directory objects.

Enabling Guest Access and external sharing in Microsoft 365 Admin Center

The next step is ensuring that Microsoft 365 global settings also allow Guests into your environment. Enabling this option will allow users to invite members outside of your organization to your tenant by sharing files or folders, and inviting them to Groups, Teams, or SharePoint sites, which will result in a creation of a Guest account in your Azure AD enabled by default in your Microsoft 365 Global Admin settings.

This setting is enabled by default, but if you are looking to disable it, or configure it, you can follow the steps below:

Navigate to Microsoft 365 Admin Center (note: only Global Administrator roles can complete this action).

Microsoft 365 admin center > Settings > Org settings > Security & privacy tab > Sharing.

 

How to enable or disable adding Guests to group and 1:1 chats, meetings and calls in Microsoft Teams

When a Guest account in your Azure AD already exists, for example, the individual was invited to collaborate in a SharePoint site, a Microsoft Team or Group in your tenant previously, or if an individual file or folder was shared with them by one of the users in your organization, they can be invited to participate in 1:1 chats or group conversations.

If the Guest account doesn’t exist yet, they will need to be invited to a Team as a Guest to be able to participate in 1:1 and group chats. 

By default, Guest access in Microsoft Teams is enabled, but if you were looking to disable it, follow the steps below:

Navigate to the Teams Admin Centre: 

Teams admin center > Org-wide settings > Guest access 

 

 

To control what Guests can and cannot do in chats and channel conversations:

Navigate to Microsoft Teams admin center: 
Teams admin center > Org-wide settings > Guest access

 

 

Note: default Guest permissions in Microsoft Teams cannot supersede the permissions set for the members of your Team. For example, if your default member permissions restrict channel creation or updating, or message deletion, your Guests also won’t be able to perform these actions. 

To control what Guests can and cannot do when it comes to Teams calling:

Navigate to Microsoft Teams Admin Center:

Teams admin center > Org-wide settings > Guest access 

 

 

To control what Guests can and cannot do when it comes to Teams meetings:

Navigate to Microsoft Teams Admin Center:

Teams admin center > Org-wide settings > Guest access

 

How to enable or disable external sharing and collaboration with Guests on individual documents & folders

In order for people outside your organization to have access to a document in SharePoint or OneDrive, the SharePoint and OneDrive organization-level sharing settings must allow for external sharing.

The organization-level settings for SharePoint determine the settings that will be available for individual SharePoint sites. Site settings cannot be more permissive than organization-level settings. The organization-level setting for OneDrive determines the level of sharing that will be available in users’ OneDrive libraries.

For SharePoint and OneDrive, if you want to allow unauthenticated file and folder sharing, choose Anyone. Unauthenticated file and folder sharing means that people don’t have to log in to their Guest account to view or edit files or folders within OneDrive or SharePoint.

If you want to ensure that people outside your organization have to authenticate (log in using their Guest account prior to viewing documents or folders), choose New and existing guests. 

Anyone links are the easiest way to share: people outside your organization can open the link without authentication and are free to pass it on to others.

For SharePoint, choose the most permissive setting that will be needed by any site in your organization.

How to set SharePoint organization-level sharing settings

  • In the Microsoft 365 admin center, in the left navigation pane, under Admin centers, click SharePoint.
  • In the SharePoint admin center, in the left navigation pane, under Policies, select Sharing.
  • Ensure that external sharing for SharePoint or OneDrive is set to Anyone or New and existing guests. (Note that the OneDrive setting cannot be more permissive than the SharePoint setting.)
  • If you made changes, select Save.

 

 

SharePoint & OneDrive advanced sharing settings

Navigate to SharePoint Admin Center:

Policies > Sharing

 

SharePoint organization-level default link settings

The default file and folder link settings determine the link option that will be shown to users by default when they share a file or folder. Users can change the link type to one of the other options before sharing if desired.

Keep in mind that this setting affects SharePoint sites in your organization, as well as OneDrive.

Choose a link from any of the following types which are then selected by default when users share files and folders:

  • Anyone with the link – Choose this option if you expect to do a lot of unauthenticated file and folder sharing. If you want to allow Anyone links but are concerned about accidental unauthenticated sharing, consider one of the other options as the default. This link type is only available if you’ve enabled Anyone sharing.
  • Only people in your organization – Choose this option if you expect most file and folder sharing to be with people inside your organization.
  • Specific people – Consider this option if you expect to do a lot of file and folder sharing with guests. This type of link works with guests and requires them to authenticate.

 

To set the SharePoint and OneDrive organization-level default link settings

 

  • Go to Sharing in the SharePoint admin center.
  • Under File and folder links, select the default sharing link that you want to use.
  • If you made changes, click Save.

 

To set the permission for the sharing link, under Choose the permission that’s selected by default for sharing links:

 

  • Select View if you do not want unauthenticated users to make changes to the files and folders.
  • Select Edit if you want to allow unauthenticated users to make changes to the files and folders.
  • Note that the above two permission options can be applied not only for guests/external users but also for internal users. The permission option you choose is determined by self-discretion.

 

To set permissions for links that allow sharing with anyone:

 

The These links can give these permissions: sub-pane,

From the Files drop-down list:

  • Select View and edit if you want to allow unauthenticated users to make changes to the files.
  • Select View if you do not want unauthenticated users to make changes to the files.

From the Folders drop-down list:

  • Select View, edit, and upload if you want to allow unauthenticated users to make changes to the folders.
  • Select View if you do not want unauthenticated users to make changes to the folders.

 

SharePoint site-level sharing settings

To edit the file and folder-sharing settings specific to each SharePoint site, you also need to check the site-level sharing settings for that site.

To set site-level sharing settings navigate to Share Point Admin Center:

  • In the left navigation pane, expand Sites and select Active sites.
  • Select the site on which you want to share files and folders with guests.
  • Scroll right across the row (in which the selected site is present) and click anywhere in the External sharing column.
  • From the page that pops up, click the Policies tab.
  • Under the External sharing pane, click Edit.
  • Ensure that sharing is set to Anyone or New and existing guests.
  • If you made changes, click Save.

 

 

Note that you can set defaults for link type and permissions and expiration settings for Anyone links for each site. When set at the site level, these settings override the organization-level settings. Note that if Anyone links are disabled at the organization level, Anyone will not be an available link type at the site level.  

 

How to enable or disable collaboration with Guests in Teams, SharePoint sites and Groups

How to enable or disable external sharing and Guest access in individual SharePoint sites

If your organization is in need of sharing more than just a file or a folder within OneDrive or SharePoint, you may choose to allow external collaboration with Guests within entire SharePoint sites.

The default site-sharing options are listed below:

 

 

The individual SharePoint site sharing is subject to the organization-wide settings for SharePoint (we covered those in the section above), the effective sharing setting for the site may change if the organization-level setting changes. If you choose a setting here and the organization level is later set to a more restrictive value, then this site will operate at that more restrictive value. For example, if you choose Anyone and the organization-level setting is later set to New and existing guests, then this site will only allow new and existing guests. If the organization-level setting is then set back to Anyone, this site would again allow Anyone links.

 

These settings described below apply to both site sharing and file and folder sharing. (Anyone sharing is not available for site sharing. If you choose Anyone, users will be able to share files and folders by using Anyone links, and the site itself with new and existing guests.)

If the site has a sensitivity label applied, that label may control the external sharing settings. For more information, read our blog which covers everything you wanted to know about Sensitivity labels.

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Note: Only SharePoint administrator roles can edit these settings.

Note: Sharing settings for channel sites can only be changed by using the Set-SPOSite PowerShell cmdlet.

Navigate to SharePoint Admin Center:

Active sites > select the site > Policies tab > Edit External sharing

 

How to enable and disable external sharing and Guest access in Microsoft Groups

Guest access in Microsoft 365 Groups lets you and your team collaborate with people from outside your organization by granting them access to group conversations, files, calendar invitations, and the group notebook. Access can be granted to a guest—for example, a partner, vendor, supplier, or consultant—by any group owner.

For the most effective collaboration with Guests across all the above-mentioned resources, we recommend using Microsoft Teams, as it offers a unified experience for both, internal and external collaboration. Fully configurable, with access to a custom SharePoint site where Teams files and documents are stored, customizable channels and tabs that can be filled with resources and apps relevant to each Team, and channel, meetings, and chat functionalities, it is truly an all-encompassing solution.

That said, Microsoft Teams membership is governed by Microsoft Groups, so you will need to enable and configure Guest access in the admin center before you can start inviting people to your Teams.

Navigate to Microsoft 365 admin center > Settings > Org settings > Microsoft 365 Groups

 

 

Something important to note which often goes unnoticed by admins is the fact that many organizations with licenses such as E3 or higher (which include Azure Premium P1) will have the ability to use Azure Dynamic (Membership) Security Groups. In these cases, Azure generates an “All Users” Security Group which dynamically updates itself as new members are added to the tenant. By default, this group automatically adds Guest accounts to this list as well.  

 

 

One concern some organizations may have is that by virtue of being a member of this group, Guests can also navigate and view the entire group’s membership (i.e., your entire corporate directory) including Names and Emails. If you do not wish this to be the case, follow the steps below to remove Guests from this group.

Below is what a Guest may see with the default settings:

 

 

Edit the Rule syntax to follow the pattern below (see https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/enterprise-users/groups-dynamic-membership#create-an-all-users-rule): 

 

 

Once the Dynamic Group refreshes its membership, the number will update to reflect only accounts from within your organization. 

 

 

Following this change, Guests will only be able to see and find Groups they are explicitly added to (assuming there are no other non-standard dynamic groups granting them access). Below is the updated view for a Guest: 

 

How to enable and disable external sharing and Guest access in Microsoft Teams

The Guest access settings within Microsoft Teams are comprised of all the settings we’ve covered previously in this article.

In order to allow Guests into Microsoft Teams, first and foremost, you need to ensure Guest access is enabled and configured correctly in Azure AD Admin Center, as well as permit adding new Guests via Microsoft 365 Admin Center.

To allow Guests invited to Microsoft Teams access the SharePoint site associated with the Team, as well as view documents in the files tab in Microsoft Teams, you need to enable and configure Guest sharing in organization-wide and individual site-specific settings via the SharePoint admin center.

Since Microsoft Teams membership is governed by Microsoft Groups settings, you will need to ensure Guest access is enabled and configured via Microsoft 365 Groups in the Microsoft Admin center.

Once all these settings are enabled, you will be able to change what Guests can and cannot do within Microsoft Teams.

Read our blog that covers Microsoft Teams default Guest settings and how to change them to learn more.

 

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About the Author

Valerie Sergienko Image

Valerie Sergienko

Director, Product Marketing

An accomplished marketing strategist, Valerie brings over a decade of experience in digital marketing and has a profound love and appreciation for agile, purpose-driven, and results-oriented growth.

In her free time, you can find Valerie exploring local amusement parks, playgrounds, cafes, and movie theatres with her daughter, reading a new science book, or working up a sweat at the gym.

Introduction

This Privacy Policy explains what information Orchestry Software Inc. and its associated entities (collectively “Orchestry”) collect about you, why, what we do with that information, how we share it and how we handle the content you place in our products and services. It also explains the choices available to you regarding our use of your personal information and how you can access and update this information.

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Information We Collect

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Corporate Events

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Log Files

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We partner with a third-party ad network to either display advertising on our Web site or to manage our advertising on other sites. Our ad network partner uses cookies and Web beacons to collect non-personal information about your activities on this and other Web sites to provide you targeted advertising based upon your interests.  If you wish to not have this information used for the purpose of serving you targeted ads, you may opt-out by clicking here: http://preferences.truste.com/ (or if located in the European Union, by clicking here: http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/). Please note this does not opt you out of being served advertising.  You will continue to receive generic ads.

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Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy or our treatment of the information you provide us, please write to us by email at hello@orchestry.com or by mail to Orchestry Software Inc., 422 Richards St, Suite 170, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2Z4, Attn: Privacy.

Changes

We may amend this Privacy Policy from time to time. When there are changes to this Privacy Policy, we will update this page. The date on the bottom will always indicate when we last made changes.
Last Updated: July 28, 2020

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  • Congratulations...

    Congratulations, you are taking the first step to join the global Orchestry Partner community, making work simpler in Microsoft 365.

In completing this form, you are providing your contact information to Orchestry Software Inc to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.