Can’t share OneDrive folder with external user – how to fix


A lot of businesses use OneDrive, and occasionally an organization’s users might need to share content with external users. However, depending on your sharing settings, sharing a OneDrive folder with an external user might be impossible. If that’s the case, this blog post can help you.

If you’re seeing a message similar to the one below, it means that your organization’s settings do not let you share with external users:

If this is the case, the permissions need to be edited to allow the users the ability to share files across to external users.

The key process the users will need to accomplish is to enable external sharing in the OneDrive/SharePoint admin panel. Without enabling this, the user who wishes to share to an external user or recipient cannot share to external entities beyond the local group. Follow the steps below to enable external sharing for your users:

  1. Navigate to Office.com > Sign in with the user login information assigned to you > Open the admin app in the application launcher
  2. Click Show all > Open the SharePoint admin center
  3. Under Policies, click Sharing
  4. Move the OneDrive slider to Anyone or New and existing guests
  5. Click Save

After following the steps above, you can share files with external users either from file explorer, within Office applications, or within the OneDrive web-based portal. I’m also going to demonstrate the entire process with screenshots so you can follow along, while also explaining some of the more complex sharing settings you can customize.

Can’t share OneDrive folder with external user: step-by-step fix

If you find the permission is denied or the sharing is unsuccessful, you need to edit the share setting in the SharePoint/OneDrive panel. The less permissive settings available will allow users to limit who the data is shared to and therefore reduce the chances of sending content to the wrong users. The more permissive settings are used progressively to allow users to send data and files across to multiple users inside and outside of the organization.

Follow the steps below to enable external sharing for your users:

  1. Navigate to Office.com > Sign in with the user login information assigned to you > Open the admin app in the application launcher
  2. Click Show all > Open the SharePoint admin center
  3. Under Policies, click Sharing
  4. Move the OneDrive slider to Anyone or New and existing guests
  5. Click Save

I’m now going to show the entire process from start to finish, including screenshots. Remember, however, that you must be a SharePoint or Microsoft 365 global admin to follow the steps given in this blog post. If you are neither, you’ll be unable follow the steps that I have outlined above.

1. Navigate to Office.com > Sign in with the user login information assigned to you > Open the admin app in the application launcher

Navigate to Office.com. Once you reach the Microsoft website, sign in using your Microsoft 365 credentials. Remember that you must be a Microsoft 365 global admin or a SharePoint admin to follow the steps outlined in this blog post.

Once logged in you can access the admin section by clicking the application launcher then clicking “Admin”. This will allows the user to access the necessary admin portal to enable sharing.

2. Click Show all > Open the SharePoint admin center

After opening the admin application, click Show all to open the list of M365 admin centers. Alternatively, if you have pinned the SharePoint admin center, it will show up at the top of the list without having to click Show all.

3. Under Policies, click Sharing

Click the Policies dropdown to open up the menu. Click Sharing to open up the part of the SharePoint admin center where you control your organization’s sharing settings.

4. Move the OneDrive slider to Anyone or New and existing guests

Once the page loads, you’ll see two sliders at the top under the heading ‘Content can be shared with’.

Here’s where you choose who your organization’s users can share content with. If your OneDrive slider is set to Existing guests or Only people in your organization, this will be why you’ve been unable to share OneDrive folders with external users. You must choose which of the sharing options meets the needs of your organization the best, so it’s important to understand the differences between them.

Move the OneDrive slider to either Anyone or New and existing guests. The definitions for each sharing setting are:

Anyone:

External users and guests can access shared files and folders using a link that doesn’t require sign-in. This option is also called “Anonymous sharing” because basically anyone with the link can have access to the files.

New and existing guests

External users and guest must sign to access the shared files or folder. They can either signin with their Microsoft account or need to enter a verification code. The external users will be added to your Azure AD as a guest user. You can view your guest users in the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre > Users > Guest Users.

Existing guests

With this option you can only share items with external users that are in your Azure AD as a guest user.

Only people in your organization

Basically, disable the external sharing at all. You can only share items internally.

After explaining the differences in the sharing settings above, you hopefully have a greater comprehension of the differences between the variety of options.

5. Click Save

Finally, the users can click save which will allow them to secure the recently changed settings to what they require. Once the setting has been updated to anyone can view the document or progressivly lower and less permissive settings, they can then send the file to external user.

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