External or guest sharing in OneDrive or SharePoint

Sharing OneDrive files or SharePoint files with external users (guests) allows you to securely collaborate with people outside of Northwestern University such as your academic colleagues at other Universities, partners, vendors, or others— with or without a Microsoft account.

The recipients' experience depends on the settings you select when creating the sharing link, and the account they use to view the file.


Step 1: Select the ellipses next to the file or folder that you want to share. Select Share


Note: To share internally, you can select Copy Link and send the link to an internal user.

Step 2: Enter the email addresses of the intended recipients. Select Send.



Note: Select People you specify can edit to view link settings for tailored external sharing preferences. Select the preferred link settings and select Apply to complete the change in the link setting preferences. 

Uploaded Image (Thumbnail)

Step 3: The recipient will receive an email granting the recipient access to the file. Now you and the recipient have access to the document to collaborate. 



Recipient doesn’t have a Microsoft account

The recipients won't need a Microsoft account. To access the content, OneDrive, SharePoint, or Lists sends a one-time passcode to their email address to verify their identity. After they receive the code, they enter it into the verification screen to open the file. The content is secured and the link won’t work if it’s forwarded to others – it only works for people you specified when you shared.


Recipient has a Microsoft account

When someone who has a Microsoft account wants to access the content, OneDrive, SharePoint, or Lists asks them to sign in to their account, and requests permission to view their name, email address, and photo to verify their identity.

Note that in some cases the recipient may need to follow the steps above and provide a passcode instead of signing in.



  • When you’re done collaborating, or at any time, you can stop sharing and remove access to your files. For OneDrive and SharePoint select the file then select Details > Manage access to stop sharing. For Lists, open the list and select the information icon  in the top right corner, then select Manage access.
  • For added security for OneDrive and SharePoint files, you can remove editing permission and turn on Block download in Link settings.




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Article ID: 1294
Thu 5/12/22 12:38 PM
Wed 11/29/23 10:31 AM

Related Services / Offerings (2)

OneDrive offers secure, cloud-based storage that lets you seamlessly collaborate and access files from anywhere in the world, at any time.
SharePoint is an online content and document management tool available for students, faculty, and staff to create web sites and manage file libraries.