IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

UW SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Groups

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UW SharePoint Online Overview

UW SharePoint Online is a web-based productivity, collaboration, and communication platform that is used by departments at UW to meet a range of needs such as department intranets, small group work (e.g. search and other committees), business process automation (e.g. travel requests), knowledge management, and file management. SharePoint Online is tightly integrated with the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, etc.), allowing files to be created and edited in SharePoint Online directly from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Video: What is SharePoint Online?

Training: SharePoint Online training videos

Guide: Manage your SharePoint site settings

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams puts the user in a chat-based workspace for real-time collaboration and communication, meetings, file, and app sharing. Team members are either members or owners, and can easily be added and removed.

Microsoft Teams can be accessed using a web browser, desktop client, or mobile app.  Click here to download the Microsoft Teams app.

Video: What is Microsoft Teams?

Demo: Microsoft Teams interactive demo

Training: Microsoft Teams training videos

Office 365 Groups

O365 Groups allow you to choose a set of people that you wish to collaborate with and easily set up a collection of resources for those people to share. It gives you the ability to collaborate with your teammates when writing documents, creating spreadsheets, working on project plans, scheduling meetings, or sending email. Group owners can add or remove members as well as change group settings. Office 365 Group members are either members or owners, and can easily be added and removed.

Office 365 Groups can be accessed through the Outlook desktop client or via a web browser using Outlook on the web (OWA).

Office 365 Groups vs. Microsoft Teams

O365 Groups is primarily a membership service, with additional functionality as detailed above. Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool with a chat-based workspace, which utilizes O365 Groups as the membership service.

Microsoft rolled out O365 Groups a few years prior to rolling out Microsoft Teams. At the time, Outlook was the collaboration tool used to interface with O365 Groups.  Shortly thereafter, Microsoft released Microsoft Teams, also a collaboration tool, with a completely different chat-based workspace vs. using Office 365 Groups via Outlook.

In short, requesting an O365 Group will provide you with the Outlook interface as detailed above. Requesting a Microsoft Team will provide you with the chat-based workspace as detailed above. Most customers choose Microsoft Teams. Note: It is possible to add the Microsoft Teams interface to an O365 Group.

Office 365 Groups in Outlook

When users request an O365 Group, they will access the group through Outlook and get the following collaboration features:

  • Shared Inbox – For email conversations between your members. This inbox has an email address and can be set to accept messages from people outside the group and even outside your organization, much like a traditional distribution list
  • Shared Calendar – For scheduling events related to the group
  • SharePoint Document Library – A central place for the group to store and share files
  • Shared OneNote Notebook – For gathering ideas, research, and information
  • SharePoint Team Site – A central repository for information, links and content relating to your group
  • Planner – For assigning and managing project tasks among your group members

You can access these resources through the familiar Outlook desktop client, via Outlook on the web, via Outlook for Mac (shared inbox only), or via Outlook mobile. You will find your O365 Group in the navigation pane on the left in Outlook desktop and Outlook on the web.

Office 365 Groups in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool that puts the user in a chat-based workspace. All owners and members are stored in an O365 Group that is associated with the Team. Collaboration tools include:

  • Chat – Instead of an inbox. Use likes, @mentions, emojis, memes and GIFs
  • Meetings – Meetings in Teams include audio, video, and sharing
  • SharePoint Document Library – A central place for the Team to store and share files
  • SharePoint Team Site – A central repository for information, links and content relating to your Team
  • Channels – Channels allow teams to separate conversations, meetings, files, apps by topics
  • Customizations – add channels, web sites and apps

The Teams interface consists of a desktop client, a web and a mobile app versions. Through this interface, you can find all the teams that you belong to as well as all the collaboration tools.

Who can request a SharePoint Online site, Microsoft Team, or Office 365 Group?

Only UW employees can request a site.  By requesting a site, the employee agrees to be the site/Team/Office 365 owner or administrator.  An owner/admin is responsible for:

  • Managing access to the site/Team/Office 365 Group
  • Submitting requests for changes to the site/Team/Office 365 Group such as changing the type of site, increasing the site storage limit, and modifying external sharing settings
  • Securing content when external sharing has been enabled
  • Responding to requests from UW-IT regarding their site/Team/Office 365 Group
  • Designating a new site/Team/Office 365 Group owner/admin when they depart UW
  • Deleting the site/Team/Office 365 Group when it is longer needed

External Sharing

External sharing is enabled in the UW Office 365 tenant.  External sharing is applied at the site level. Site owners/admins and members can choose to share sites, lists, libraries, folders, documents, etc. with those who are outside of the organization.

Please note: If you want to enable external sharing on a new SharePoint Online site, please indicate which of the two options below you want in the “Notes” field of the request form that follows this section.

External Sharing Options

Allow external users who accept sharing invitations and sign-in as authenticated users

This option allows you to share with any external user via an email invitation. The user will receive an email containing a link to the shared item. Once they click the link, their experience will differ depending on whether the invitation is for a site or document.  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.

For sharing documents, the user is not required to have a Microsoft account. Once they click on the link in the email, they will be instructed to enter a verification code that has been sent in a subsequent email. Entering the code will give access to the content.

Allow sharing with all external users by using anonymous access links

This option allows you to share with an external user who has a valid email address. There will be no verification code when opening the content. Because it is an anonymous access link, anyone who receives the link will be able to open the content. For security purposes we do not recommend this option.

 External Sharing Default Settings

  • SharePoint Online site – External sharing is disabled by default; can be enabled by request
  • SharePoint Online Modern Communication site – External sharing is disabled by default; can be enabled by request
  • Microsoft Team – External sharing is enabled by default; guests must sign-in or provide a verification code
  • Office 365 Group – External sharing is enabled by default; guests must sign-in or provide a verification code

Request a UW SharePoint Online site, Microsoft Team, or Office 365 Group

Click here for the UW SharePoint Online, Microsoft Team, Office 365 request form


UW Office 365 contains a task management service called Microsoft Planner.  To create new Plans within Planner, you’ll need to have an existing Office 365 Group or Microsoft Team.  The easiest way to create a new Plan is using the Microsoft Teams interface.  Login to Microsoft Teams then follow these instructions to create a new Plan.  Once you’ve created your new Plan(s), they will be visible from the Planner interface under Recent plans and All plans.  Only users who are Owners or Members of the Office 365 Group or Microsoft Team a Plan was created in will be able to access the Plan.

Please note: You will not be able to create a new Plan directly from the Planner interface as this attempts to create a new Office 365 Group, and self-service Office 365 Group creation is disabled in the UW Office 365 tenant.

Renaming Office 365 Groups

Office 365 Groups are named starting with the prefix “og_” followed by a group “stem” and then a more specific group name, e.g. og_uwit_collab_services.  The og_ prefix is necessary to prevent the creation of Office 365 group names that duplicate group names that already exist in the UW-IT namespace.  Allowing the creation of duplicate group names could lead to namespace collisions, duplicate directory listings, and unanticipated side effects in the UW-IT environment.

Therefore, while it is currently possible to edit the name of your Office 365 Group, UW-IT requests that you do not do so.  Additionally, we reserve the right to reset the name of your Office 365 Group back to the original name at any time.

SharePoint Online Site Storage Limits

The maximum size for an individual SharePoint Online file is 100GB.  The default SharePoint Online site storage limit is 1TB and can be expanded to 5TB with a request to  A request to expand from 5TB-25TB requires documentation of a business justification.  25TB is the maximum SharePoint Online site storage limit.

UW-IT will not evaluate or turn down a request for storage limit expansion based on the content of a business justification.  We are simply asking for them in case Microsoft changes something that would require more funding from the UW so that we have business justifications to provide to further the discussion.  In case of such an event, we need to be able to talk about the potential impact to campus that a funding model change would have, and to help us tell your story of success.  It can be as little or as much as you think is necessary to express the importance of this service offering to your organization to leadership stakeholders that may make decisions about providing these services to campus going forward.

For more SharePoint Online limits, click here.

Deletion of UW SharePoint Online sites, Microsoft Teams, and Office 365 Groups

UW SharePoint Online sites, Microsoft Teams, and Office 365 Groups will be deleted when the last UW member is removed.

Records Management

While using UW SharePoint Online sites, Microsoft Teams, and Office 365 Groups, it is the users’ responsibility to manage their records in compliance with a legally approved UW Records Retention Schedule, deleting records at the end of their retention period.

Where can I get help?

The UW SharePoint Community of Practice is an excellent resource for SharePoint-related discussions and includes an active Microsoft Team community forum and quarterly in-person meetups.  Email to be added.

The SharePoint Online Help Center is a comprehensive learning site for SharePoint Online.