Prevent users sharing documents on a SharePoint site

Microsoft SharePoint is a website-building platform used by businesses. It may be used to store, organize, share, and access information from any device in a secure manner. A web browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox, is all you need. Users primarily use SharePoint as a form of data management and sharing platform. If you want to share a site, file, document, or folder with another user in your organization or externally, SharePoint will allow you to do that. However, perhaps you shared anything from SharePoint to another user, however, you don’t want to allow the other user to share this content alone and restrict those permission to prevent this from happening due to security reasons. In this blog, we will address organizations that want users to contribute to documents, etc without giving them permission to share them with other users – even users within the same organization that aren’t a member of the site. Follow the steps below to see how.

Step by step process – Prevent users sharing documents on a SharePoint site

  • First, sign into your Microsoft 365 account.
  • Click the app launcher in the top left.
  • Select “SharePoint” from the apps list.
  • Select the site where the files you want to restrict access to are located.
  • To restrict access to specific folders, go to “Documents” on the left.
  • Click the ⋮ three dots next to the folder.
  • Select “Manage access” from the popup menu.
  • Click the pen icon next to a group or user you want to restrict access to.
  • Then select “Stop sharing” from the dropdown menu.

The following presets will prevent users from sharing personal company-related files. You can edit the permission for the entire user base or edit this permission for a select few users by first selecting the user’s names in the list then restricting the access. This will prevent sharing to native platforms such as other users on SharePoint and OneDrive and prevent external sharing by denying access to create a link to share the file across. When users do try to share a link, a warning sign will pop up showing that “you have been restricted from sharing this file”. It will give you a link to contact the owner or administrator who may then be able to lift those permissions for you to then send the content across.

Unless you as an administrator think this is about highly confidential documents, we recommend that you do not restrict access which could potentially impact the performance of your company. Committing to changes such as these can have the potential to cause a lot of extra work for both you and your colleagues who would devote a lot more time to ensure documents are correct as they won’t be able to swiftly share it and review them. Keep it open and keep the file-sharing available to users if possible. If required, everything is traceable in the version history and Audit Log and possible to track afterward.

SharePoint versions

There are quite a few variations of SharePoint in Office 365 which allow for a much more diverse range of applications suited to different preferences, the method is shown above will work for all of them, however, the visual approach and step by step guide is created step by step for the web online version. The steps for the other versions will be similar.

SharePoint in Microsoft 365 is a Microsoft-hosted cloud-based service for companies of all sizes. Any organization can subscribe to a Microsoft 365 plan or the standalone SharePoint Online service instead of installing and running the SharePoint Server on-premises. Employees may set up websites to exchange documents and information with coworkers, partners, and customers.

To take advantage of all of the newest capabilities, organizations may deploy and administer SharePoint Server on-premises or with an Office 365 Enterprise subscription. It also has contemporary site pages, modern web components and authoring, modern lists and libraries, modern search, interaction with PowerApps, Power BI, and MS Flow, and a SharePoint home page, among other things.

Why prevent documents from being shared

You may want users to gain access to certain files and documents for work-related reasons, however, for security reasons being a primary factor, want to restrict permission so they can only view or edit the document and not share it with anyone else regardless of whether they are a part of the organization or not.

One example that is probably a highly likely user for this preference is organizations and companies that have staff on board of different levels or administrations, from managers and partners to colleagues working under your management. Organizations that want users to contribute to documents etc without giving them permission to share them with other users – even users within the same organization that aren’t a member of the site. This is where the method above comes in handy, users can edit and work on documents, however with the permissions restricted to prevent sharing, admin users won’t have to worry about security breaches as the likelihood of documents being shared are not significantly reduced.

In depth – Step by step process – Prevent users sharing documents on a SharePoint site

Step by step breakdown:

  • Select the site where the files you want to restrict access to are located.
  • To restrict access to specific folders, go to “Documents” on the left. (1)
  • Click the ⋮ three dots next to the folder. (2)
  • Select “Manage access” from the popup menu. (3)
  • Click the pen icon next to a group or user you want to restrict access to. (1)
  • Then select “Stop sharing” from the dropdown menu. (2)

That’s it for this Blog thank you for taking time out to read our content, please feel free to email our team about how it went if you followed the steps or if you need more help with the questions we answered in this Blog.

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Saajid Gangat

Saajid Gangat has been a researcher and content writer at Business Tech Planet since 2021. Saajid is a tech-savvy writer with expertise in web and graphic design and has extensive knowledge of Microsoft 365, Adobe, Shopify, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and more! You can connect with Saajid on Linkedin.

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