SharePoint is all about sharing and collaboration. So what would be the right method to share a document with a colleague? If we hover over the document in both SharePoint and OneDrive, we see two options:
- Get a link
What is the difference between the two? Let me explain.
The biggest difference between the 2 methods is whether or not you care who has access to the document
If you care – Share
if you don’t – Get a link
Before I proceed, it is important to note that sharing I am talking about here is the file (document) level. Sharing a site works differently, and you can reference this post/slide deck for additional information on how that works.
The share feature allows you to precisely spell out and invite specific individuals to view or edit a document. The users could be internal or external users. When you share, you have to spell out exactly who you are sharing with. When you share a document with someone, (and once they accept the invite), the document ends up having unique permissions, different from the rest of the site, document library and other documents for that matter.
- Right-click on a document, then choose Share
- On the next pop-up window, specify who you are sharing with. These users could be internal or external, however, external sharing needs to be configured up front. In the upper-left hand corner, it will tell you who currently can access the document. You can also specify whether the users you are sharing with can Edit a document (make changes) or just View (read only). Click Share.
- The users you shared with, will now get an email notification with a link to a document!
Get a link
Get a link allows you to create a link to the file that you can later email to anyone via email. Unlike Share feature, the recipient can forward the link to other people who will also have access to the file and you will never know who viewed or edited it.
- To get a link to a file, right-click on the file and choose Get a link
- On the next screen, you have to choose the type of link you want to create and then choose Create. I will explain what the difference is between all types of links below.
Types of links
There might be 3 or 5 types of links you will see in that link drop-down and that really depends on whether or not you have enabled external anonymous sharing on a site collection. For example, in site collection below, I do not have external sharing enabled at all. As a result, I only see 3 links in the drop-down.
However, in the site collection where external (and anonymous) sharing is enabled, I will see all 5 links
This is the setting at the site collection level that controls (adds) the last 2 types of links:
Let me now explain the difference between 5 types of links:
This is the default link that already exists. If chosen, only users who already have access to the site/library will be able to access the file
View link – account required
This link will allow the user to access the file in read-only mode. The user would need to log in using your company’s Office 365 credentials to be able to access it.
Edit link – account required
This link will allow the user to edit the file. The user would need to log in using your company’s Office 365 credentials to be able to access it.
View link – no sign-in required
This link will allow the user access the file in read-only mode. The user does not need to log in at all and can access the file just by clicking the URL. This option is only available if you have anonymous sharing enabled at the site collection.
Edit link – no sign-in required
This link will allow the user to edit the file. The user does not need to log in at all and can access and edit the file just by clicking the URL. This option is only available if you have anonymous sharing enabled at the site collection.
Another cool thing you can do with the guest (anonymous) links is set expiration dates. This minimizes the security risk and essentially makes the link invalid after a certain number of days.
How to Stop Sharing
You might need to go in reverse at some point and stop sharing your file after some time. Depending on how you shared (via Share or Get a link), you might employ different methods.
To stop sharing if you used Share Option (uninvite people)
- Right-click on a document and click on Share or Get a link, then click on Shared with
- If you want to disable sharing with everyone you shared previously, click on Stop Sharing. You will get a warning message and essentially when you click on Stop sharing button, this will remove sharing and guest links from the file, returning it to how it was before. In other words, this will make the file inherit security and permissions from library/site again!
- On another hand, if you want to only remove specific people from the file, you need to click on Advanced
- This will open up a familiar security/permissions screen for you where you can either edit or remove specific users from the file (and this file only!)
To stop sharing if you used Get a link option (make link invalid)
- Right-click on a document and click Get a link
- From the drop-down of all types of links available, choose the link you want to disable
- Click Remove next to the link you have chosen
- On the pop-up warning message, click Remove link
Additional Reading on the topic
I also recommend that you check out this post by Ellen van Aken, where she explains some further details on the guest links and how they work.