IT Connect
Your connection to information technology at the UW

External Sharing

Overview

This document has been written for site owners who are sharing SharePoint content with external users (i.e., non-UW email addresses).  It is meant to clarify the external user’s experience and troubleshoot issues they may be having.

The external user’s experience differs depending on if you (the site owner) are sharing files and folders, or a SharePoint Online site. In most instances, sharing files and folders will prompt the user to enter a verification code. The verification code will be sent by Microsoft to the external user’s email address 

When sharing a site, however, the external user may be prompted to enter their email account username and password (i.e., credentials). 

In addition to the type of item that is being shared, the type of email account of the external user also determines their experience. Note: either non-Microsoft or Microsoft consumer accounts work reliably with external sharing.

Types of external user accounts

  • A non-Microsoft account like @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or other commercial email accounts
    • NoteThese accounts can also be registered with Microsoft, and by doing so, will be recognized by Microsoft and be referred to as a Microsoft account
  • An actual Microsoft account like @outlook.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com, or other Microsoft account
  • A Microsoft School or Work Accountreferred to as an organizational account

Types of external sharing

UW allows site owners to share items externally in two different ways:  

  • External sharing via anonymous links, i.e., links that do not require sign-in
  • External sharing requiring the external user to sign-in as an authenticated user or enter a verification code

Sharing files and folders will require a verification code, which will be provided by Microsoft via a subsequent email.

When sharing sites, the user will be asked to log in with a Microsoft account. If the user does not have a Microsoft account, they can create one at that point. Once they log in with their Microsoft account, they will gain access to the site. They will not be required to log in on subsequent access. 

Sharing files and folders

Recipients of shared files and folders will receive an email with a link to a file or folder. Clicking on the link will present the following dialog:  

They will click on the Send Code button and Microsoft will send an email with a verification code for them to enter and press the Verify button to be directed to the folder or file. 

If Anonymous sharing is enabled, you will have the sharing option Anyone with the link”. 

The “Anyone with the link” option will send the recipient an email like the following: 

Clicking on the button will automatically open the document. No verification code will be required. 

Sharing a site

When sharing sites, the user will be asked to log in with a Microsoft account. If the user does not have a Microsoft account, they can create one at that point. Once they log in with their Microsoft account, they will gain access to the site. They will not be required to log in on subsequent access.   On the initial sign-in, the recipient will be prompted to enter credentials.  The following Welcome page will be displayed and the recipient will select the type of account they will be using. 

Which account to select?

Microsoft Account  

By default, email accounts such as @outlook.com, @live.com, @hotmail.com are all Microsoft accounts 

For commercial accounts such as @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc., the user will need to register the account with Microsoft to become a Microsoft account. The Welcome page contains a link to “Create a Microsoft account”. Once the account has been registered with Microsoft, it will be recognized with any SharePoint Online tenant. 

Organizational Account  

A Work or School account that is a Microsoft School or Work account. 

On the initial sign-in, Microsoft Account users will be prompted to enter their Microsoft Account credentialsThe initial sign-in will also store the recipient’s email address as a Guest account in UW’s Azure Active Directory.   

Recipients with a Microsoft School or Work Account will not be prompted for credentials. 

Troubleshooting external user issues

Issues with site sign-in  

As a site owner, if you have shared a site with an external user, you can verify that they have signed in successfully by viewing the site members or visitors list.  If their name appears, you can assume that they have signed in 

If the user has subsequent sign in issues, ensure that they are logged into their computer as the user who received the email. These issues will typically occur when the user has multiple email accounts. The user should open an “in-private” browser session, log into their account to open the sent email, and click on the link. 

Another way to troubleshoot sign-in issues is to view the recipient’s email address in Azure.  

  • Log into https://portal.azure.com 
  • Click on Users  
  • Filter on User type, select Guest 
  • Search for the user in the search box 

The email address should be the one that you used for the share inviteIt should also be the one that the user uses for sign-in.  If it is not, email help@uw.edu for assistance.