People who need to see or work with the content on your Team site or SharePoint Online sub-sites, but who don’t have user accounts for your SharePoint Online environment are considered “external users.” External users might be vendors or customers. You can quickly and securely give external users access to either your Team site or SharePoint Online sub-sites by sending them an invitation through email.
This topic describes how to invite external users to use the Team site or sub-sites, and how to enable and disable sharing for SharePoint Online. When you share a site in SharePoint, an email message is sent to the external user containing the invitation to join your site. You can send the invitation to people with any type of email address, such as *.gmail.com, *.contoso.com, or *.comcast.net. However, to log in to your SharePoint site, the email address has to be associated with a Microsoft account.
Enabling external sharing on the Team site or sub-sties is not the same thing as enabling anonymous access. Anonymous access is never allowed. Users must be authenticated (by logging in) before they can access internal resources.
External users who are invited to your Team site will be able to view content on that site and all sub-sites. You can create a sub-site and allow external users access only to that site. To do this, you will need to break permissions inheritance from the Team site. To learn more about how to do this and how to plan your content so that it is secure, read the articles in the See Also section.
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Invite users to the SharePoint site
To invite external users to the Team site or a sub-site, you must be a site collection administrator or a site owner. You also need to know the email address for the person you are inviting to the site. The person you invite to the site receives an email that includes a link to accept the invitation. To accept the invitation, the invitee needs to provide an email address that is associated with a Microsoft account, or, if they’re an existing Office 365 customer, a Microsoft Online Services ID. If they don’t have an email address or a Microsoft account, they can create one for free. The external user can choose one of three types of email addresses to log in to the site; an email address that is associated with Microsoft account, a Hotmail, Live, or MSN address, or a Microsoft Online Services ID.
Security Keep in mind that after you invite external users to your site, users in other sites or sub-sites may be able to grant permissions to those users by choosing them from the People Picker. Ensure that you know the identity of external users before granting them access to sites.
- On your Team site or sub-site, click Site Actions, and then click Share Site.
If you don’t know URL of your Team site, contact your site collection administrator. If you cannot see the Share this site link, you might not have the appropriate permissions to use the feature.
- In the Share your SharePoint Site dialog box, in either the Visitors or Members box, type the email address of the user you want to invite. Visitors have read access, and Members have read/write access.
- In the Message box, type an e-mail to the person to remind them why they are receiving permission to the site.
- Click Share.
The external user will receive an email from you containing an invitation to join your site. After the external user accepts the invitation, they will log into SharePoint by using their Microsoft account sign-in. Once the invitation is accepted, it expires and cannot be used again.
Remove users from a SharePoint site
You can remove members from the Team site or sub-site if you are a site collection administrator, a site owner, or a user who has permissions to view or edit group membership. This method of removing users shows only those users who are listed in the Members and Visitors SharePoint groups. To learn about how to remove users that are listed in other SharePoint groups, refer to the articles in the See Also section.
Follow these steps to remove users from the Visitors or Members SharePoint groups on the Team site.
- On your Team site, click Site Actions, and then click Share site.
Note If you don’t know the URL of your Web site, contact your site collection administrator.
- In the Share your SharePoint site dialog box, under the Visitors box or the Members box, click the dropdown for Users in this group.
- Click the X next to the name of the user you want to remove.
- Click OK.
You can also view which SharePoint groups a user belongs to by using the Check Permissions button. For more information about permissions and groups, and using Check Permissions, see the articles listed in the See Also section.
Enable or disable external user invitations
The ability to invite external users to the Team site is enabled by default, so site owners and site collection administrators can share the Team site with external users at any time. However, the site collection administrator can choose to disable the feature for all sites so that no future invitations can be sent. When this feature is deactivated, any external user currently invited to sites will no longer be able to access the sites.
Note To do this procedure, you must be a Site Collection Administrator.
- Log on to the Team site.
- Click Site Actions, and then Site Settings.
- Under Site Collection Administration, click Go to top level site settings, and then click Site collection features.
Next to External user invitations, do one of two things:
- To prevent email invitations from being sent and to deny external users access to the site, click Deactivate.
- To allow invitations to be sent and to reactivate any external users who previously had access, click Activate.
Security When you deactivate external sharing, any external users who had access to the site at the time the feature was deactivated are denied access to the site and no future invitations can be sent. If the feature is reactivated with external user names in the SharePoint permissions groups, then those users will automatically be able to access the site again. To permanently prevent a user from accessing the SharePoint site, you must explicitly remove them from the site permissions page.
Associate an email address with a Microsoft account
To use an email address, such as *.contoso.com, to log on to a SharePoint Online site, the email address must first be associated with Microsoft account. You can register an email address with your Microsoft account by following the steps at this website.
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