onedrive logo

If you’ve got an Office 365 account (free or paid), then you’ve got OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage app. Cloud storage is great for sharing files with other people, so let’s see how it works in OneDrive.

You can share OneDrive files from either the OneDrive folder on your computer (the “client interface”), or the Office 365 web interface, or the OneDrive mobile app. Which method is best depends on your situation and preference, but Microsoft is pushing its cloud offerings strongly, and that prioritization shows in the OneDrive interface. Not to be too blunt about it, but the Office 365 web interface and OneDrive app are much prettier and more refined than the client interface. The client interface also has at least seven different ways of sharing, some of which are hangovers from ways of sharing things in older versions of Windows. For those reasons, we’ll concentrate here on sharing through the OneDrive app and OneDrive web interface.

Sharing (and Unsharing) a File Through the Mobile OneDrive App

Microsoft has obviously put some effort into its OneDrive app because the sharing option is simple and comprehensive. We’ll be using the Android app for our examples here, but the iOS app is similar. We’ll point out when there are significant differences.

To share a file (or folder), tap the three dots next to it.

The 3 dots that display the file options

Tap “Share” from the menu that appears.

The Share option

This opens the sharing options. By default, OneDrive allows the people you share a file with to edit that file. You can change that to view-only by tapping the arrow next to “Can edit” and changing it to “Can view” instead. You also can “Set Expiry Date,” which means that the file will only be shared for a specific period.

The sharing options

Note: On the iPhone or iPad mobile app, these work a bit differently. You’ll see a “View Only” link on the share menu to disable editing. You’ll see a “Link Settings” option that lets you set an expiration date.

link settings and view only buttons on iOS

Once you’ve set these options as you want (or just left them with the defaults), you can share your file. At the top of the sharing options are the default OneDrive sharing options.

The main ways of sharing

These provide the following sharing methods:

  • Copy Link: Creates a URL and copies it to the clipboard for you to paste wherever you like. This link can be used by anyone.
  • Invite People: Sends a link to one or more email addresses that you select from your contacts or enter manually. This link can only be used by the people you send it to.
  • Send Files: Allows the file to be sent to someone. You can send the file using email, or any other communication app on your phone like Slack or WhatsApp. Unlike “Copy link” or “Invite people,” which provide a link for people to click, this will send a copy of the file. Links can be “unshared” whenever you want, but once you send someone the file, they can keep it forever, so only use this if you don’t mind the recipient getting to keep the file.
  • Outlook: If you’ve got Outlook on your phone, this will open an email with the link in it for you to send to someone.

Below these options are every app and method your phone provides for sharing a file, whether that’s Slack, WhatsApp, Signal, LINE, Twitter, Facebook, Bluetooth, WiFi Direct, email, or any other app you’ve got installed. Tap the appropriate icon and follow the instructions to share the file.

To unshare a file, tap the three dots next to it and click the information icon.

The information icon for the file

This will bring up the file properties and show who you’ve shared the file with at the bottom.

The people you've shared the file with

Click the “Can edit” link (or “Can view” if you shared the file as view-only) and select “Stop sharing” from the menu that pops up. Click “OK” to stop sharing the file.

The Stop sharing radio button

Sharing (and unsharing) a File Through the O365 Web Interface

Sign into Office 365 and navigate to OneDrive.

The O365 app launcher and app tiles

Select the file you want to share and click “Share” in the menu bar at the top.

The Share button on the menu bar

This will display the sharing options for the file, and they’re pretty similar to the OneDrive app—the default sharing option is to allow people to edit a file you share with them and you can set an expiration date if you only want the file to be shared for a specific period of time

The sharing options in OneDrive

An option which is only available in the OneDrive web interface is to password protect the file by clicking “Set password”. This means that when you create and send out a link to the file, a person will only be able to open the link if they’ve got the password. For the security conscious this is a useful feature, and definitely worth using if you’re got something sensitive to share.

The two primary options for sending the link are “Get a link” and “Email.”

  • Get a link: Creates a link you can copy and paste wherever you want. This link will work for anyone who has it.
  • Email: Opens up a web mail containing the link, where you can enter one or more email addresses and a message. This link will only work for people accessing it using the email addresses you specify.

Click “More” to show specific services you can share in. At the time of writing these services are limited to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Weibo and when you click one of them a new window opens for you to sign into that service and post the link. Why Microsoft has chosen these four services is a matter of conjecture, although they own LinkedIn, and Facebook, Twitter and Weibo probably hold accounts between them for a decent chunk of the internet-going population, but why four apps and not five, or six, or more? We’re not sure, but if you want to share a file in a different app then click “Get a link” and paste the link into the app of your choice.

To unshare a file, select it and click the information icon in the top right of the OneDrive page.

The information button for the file

This will bring up the file properties. Click “Manage access” to see who you’ve shared the file with.

The Manage access link

A list of sharing links will be displayed, showing who can access the file and what permissions they have.

The sharing links that have been created

To change the permissions, such as making an editable file view-only or adding password protection, click the arrow underneath the link. To stop sharing the file, click the “x” next to the link. A warning message will pop up.

The delete warning dialogue

Click “Remove link” to stop sharing the file. This will only remove this link, so if you want to stop sharing the file completely, you’ll have to remove all the sharing links you’ve created for it.

Rob Woodgate Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and consultant with 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He has experience in documenting, training, supporting, and implementing solutions. Rob focuses on productivity tools and knowledge management for How-To Geek.
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