Sharing Documents in SharePoint Online


There is nothing wrong with using SharePoint along with its document libraries to simply keep all of your documents in the cloud so that you can access them from anywhere. However, a likely scenario is loading documents you want to share with other members of your work teams so they can view and edit them. By default, documents loaded into SharePoint online are not shared. That’s probably a good default. You would not want to have to remember to take away rights to a private document you uploaded. Another way to look at it is, you may need to share different documents with different groups of people.

Today we are going to start a short series of discussions on how to share documents you have added to your libraries with other members of your work team and show two ways you can track their changes. Let’s begin by going to the document library I created for use in the last few blogs.

I selected the document named: Document in the above image by clicking on the selection checkbox to the left of the filename. Notice that this highlights several of the other options at the top of the library including: edit, manage, and share. To share this document I can click the command: share.

I can also click the ellipsis button to the right of the filename and from the dialog that opens, click the SHARE command along the bottom of the dialog.

Both actions open the Share dialog shown below:

Note in the upper left that SharePoint tells you that the document is currently shared only with you. To invite other people to edit your document, make sure the Invite people menu item on the left side of the screen is selected. Then enter the names of the people with whom you want to share the document in the text box to the right. Enter the names one at a time. Because I am tied to Active Directory, SharePoint will use the characters I enter and perform a search on names that have the combination of letters that I’ve entered as shown below (ok, I blurred some of them out to protect the guilty). The more characters you enter, the more refined the search can be. However, don’t be afraid to stop before entered the person’s complete name and then select them from the dropdown list. Note that this can be very useful especially when you are not entirely sure of the correct spelling of the person’s name.

You can select more than one person to share the file by adding a semi-colon between the names. You can also select groups that your organization may have defined in Active Directory to give everyone within that group access to your file.

But what if you don’t want to give the person(s) the ability to edit your file. Maybe you only want to let them view the file. Notice the dropdown list to the right of the name textbox. Click the arrow to open the dropdown and select Can View to limit the users to viewing your document.

If you have some people who you want to be able to view the document and some who you want to edit the document, you must go through the process twice, once for those who can view only the document and once for those who can edit the document.

Because the people you are inviting to edit or view your document will receive an email to announce their permissions to your document, you can also include in the textbox immediately below the box where you entered their names text to tell them why they are getting rights to your file. In some case, you may need to ask the user to sign-in first before they get access to your site. This insures that only those you invite to view or edit your document can actually get to it even if someone else ‘finds’ the link to your library.

Finally, there is one final command that simply says, ‘SHOW OPTIONS’. Honestly, the first time I saw this, I was expected that clicking this command would open an entire dialog with other properties that I could set. Rather, I was surprised to find that it only refreshed the current screen to shown one additional option that asks whether you want to send an email invitation to the people you just selected.

Of course, you don’t need to send an email invitation. You could simply tell the people to go to your site and view or edit the document. However, if you are inviting a lot of people, sending an email is a lot more efficient. In addition, the email that is sent will include information like the link to the document so they can simply click on it to go to the file. The email they receive will look something like the following image.

Well, that’s it for this week. Next time I will look at how to get notified of changes made by people who share edits rights with your document. C’ya.

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