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Sometimes, you need to share documents with people who are not part of your company and who don’t have full user subscriptions for your SharePoint Online environment. Now, you can take advantage of SharePoint Online’s external sharing capabilities to break down the barriers. Whether these people are vendors, business partners, or customers, your company can invite them to view, share, and collaborate on your SharePoint Online sites as external viewers.


Staff up, staff down—an external hiring scenario.

Fabrikam is a 700-person company based in Boise, Idaho, USA that specializes in home furnishings. In late February, Fabrikam starts gearing up for a national trade show that takes place in early June in Las Vegas; the next three months will be busy as it plans and prepares its tradeshow booth, customer meetings, and marketing and press activities.


The company has three main business groups involved in the process: finance, legal, and marketing. The finance and legal teams do not wish to share externally, so they keep their sites limited to full-time Fabrikam employees. However, the marketing team needs to work with various vendors and temporary staff. As a result, it uses SharePoint Online to maintain the tradeshow project site, a primary document library to store and manage marketing materials and press releases, , and a timeline with work back schedule dates. When the team is ready to get started, it sends external user invitations to its vendors and temporary staff by email. Invitees simply accept to gain access to the site.


How to enable and use external sharing capabilities.

Here is a high-level overview of the steps to enable and use the external sharing capabilities in both the SharePoint Online for small business and for enterprise plans within Office 365.


SharePoint Online for enterprise

SharePoint Online for small business

ON by default, can be turned off

  1. SharePoint Online Administer “allows” for whole company.
  2. Individual site owners choose to activate the “external user invitation” feature for their group’s use.
  3. Site owner invites via any email using Site Actions à Share Site.
  4. Invitee accepts invitation with a LiveID-based user name and password (,, and all regional derivatives).
  5. Collaboration ensues.
  6. Undo step 1 or 2 at any time.

OFF by default, can be turned on

  1. Site owner invites via any email using Site Actions à Share Site.
  2. Invitee accepts invitation with a LiveID-based user name and password. (,, and all regional derivatives).
  3. Collaboration ensues.
  4. Deactivate the “external user invitation” feature at any time.

Get more setup details here on

Get more setup details here on

Read the SharePoint Online service description for more details on the use rights of an “external user.”


We are excited to hear how you use SharePoint Online’s external sharing capabilities. Leave a comment—we want to hear your story and what you think. It’s a part of Office 365 / SharePoint Online now and available in the trial. Try it today!



The SharePoint Online Team