Sharing Files Securely Using OneDrive

Posted July 26th, 2021 at 10:15 am.

OneDrive provides an easy way to share files and folders with others:

  1. Create a “share link” for a file or folder.
  2. Email or paste the link into a web page, shared document, Moodle course, chat, etc.
  3. Other people click that link to access the file or folder.

By default, settings for share links are not secure: anyone who has access to the link will have full editing and sharing permissions for the file or folder.

However, you can customize the sharing settings and increase security by:

  • Limiting who can use a share link.
  • Limiting how long a share link works.
  • Requiring a password for access.
  • Giving recipients view-only access with the link.

Create a Share Link with Secure Settings

  1. Upload or create a file or folder in OneDrive.
  2. Hover over it and click the (share).
  3. Click the sharing settings (outlined in red in the image below) at the top of the Send link window to customize them.

  1. In the Link Settings window (shown below), under “Who would you like this link to work for?” choose:
    • Anyone with the link (least secure): if you share this link with someone and they share forward it to others, everyone will be able to access the file or folder.
    • People in your organization with the link: limits access to current Bryn Mawr students and employees, users must log into their Bryn Mawr College e-mail/Office365 account to open the file or folder.
    • People with existing access: use to create a direct link to a file or folder that only works for people it has already been shared with. For example, if you are discussing a shared document with people in a web conference and want a direct link to it that you can paste into the chat.
    • Specific people — most secure option: creates a link that only works for individuals with email addresses you specify (can be internal ( or external. You will add the email addresses after clicking Apply.

  1. Under Other settings, set additional parameters:
    • Allow editing: If checked, people who click the share link can edit files, change sharing permissions, and share with others. If you are sharing a folder, they can edit, rename, move, copy, delete, and add files in that folder. Uncheck to allow people to view files, but prevent them from making changes or sharing them.
For Word documents only: when Allow editing is checked, there is an additional option to Open in review mode only. This option turns on Track changes so that people who click the share link can add comments and suggest edits, but not alter content directly.
    • Set expiration date – specify a date when the share link stops working.
    • Set password specify a password that people need to enter before they can access the file or folder. This can increase security, but only if a) you use a strong password and b) you share the password and the link separately. If you email the link to someone, don’t include the password in an email; if you post the link on a public web page, don’t post the password, too. Have people contact you for the password and/or send it by a more secure means.
    • Block download (Office365 files only) – when turned on, people who access a file through the share link can edit it within online versions Office365 apps but cannot download it or edit it in the desktop versions.
  1. Click Apply to save your settings.
  2. If you chose to share with Specific people, give those people access by adding their names or email addresses in the To: line and clicking Send. OneDrive will send them an email with a link to the item and it will show up on their Shared with me page in OneDrive.
WARNING: Entering names or email address ONLY limits access IF sharing is set to Specific people. For all other sharing settings, adding names and email addresses to the To: line only determines who receives an email with the share link. If they forward the email, anyone in the sharing category you chose (e.g. “anyone” or “anyone at”) will be able to use the link.

Check or Change Who Can Access a File or Folder

  1. Hover over the filename, click the , and choose Manage access.
  2. On the Manage Access pane:
    • Links giving access lists any share links you’ve created for the item. Click … (More options) next to a link to edit or remove it; or Share at the top of the list to create a new one.
    • Direct Access lists the groups and individuals who have permission to access the file. Click the arrow next to a name to change a person or group’s access level (view or edit) or to remove access or click the + to add a group or person to the list.
Filed under: Office 365 Online,OneDrive,OneDrive by Jenny Spohrer

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