Sharing files using OneDrive – The basics

OneDrive allows you to share your files for information and collaboration while retaining control over them. Files in your OneDrive can be shared with:

  • Specific people or distribution lists
  • Anyone in UWE (staff and students)
  • Anyone with the link

Files in your OneDrive belong to you. You have control over:

  • Who can view
  • Who can edit
  • Who can download

and you can change these settings or stop sharing at any time. If you delete the file it will become unavailable to everyone you shared it with.

What is sharing?

Sharing a file from OneDrive is not the same as sending an email attachment or adding a file to your Blackboard site. In those cases, a copy of the file from your OneDrive is made, and if you change your version of the file, the attachment or the file on Blackboard does not change.

Sharing a file means creating a live link to it. If you make any changes you don’t need to resend the attachment or reupload it to your module site. The link will take recipients straight to your version of the file. You may want to do this if you are sharing information that changes regularly, or if you want people to collaborate on a document.

How to share your OneDrive files

From your browser

From the main Intranet page, go to Office 365 at the top right.

Screenshot of Office 365 link

Click on OneDrive (if you can’t see the icon, click on All Apps).

OneDrive icon

Find your document and click on the Share symbol.

Share icon as shown in OneDrive

From File Explorer

Open File Explorer (usually on your taskbar).

File Explorer icon

You should be able to see your OneDrive files in the File Explorer. If not, go to OneDrive as above and click on Sync.

Sync icon

In File Explorer, find your OneDrive folders in the left column. Find the file you want, right click and select Share.

Share icon as shown in File Explorer

Watch a video from Microsoft Support on how to share your files.


First click on the top box where it says ‘People you specify can view’ to bring up all your options.

Screenshot of Link settings

In the Link settings, leave ‘Specific people’ selected if you want to enter specific email addresses or a distribution list (such as a particular module). This will work for non-UWE email addresses as well, so you can share outside the organisation. As you start typing, suggestions will come up from your Outlook contacts.

Choose ‘People in UWE Bristol with the link’ if you need to share with lots of people in UWE and there isn’t a specific distribution group, as long as it does not contain any sensitive information. Choose ‘Anyone with the link’ if you are happy for anyone to see the document. There are additional options here to set an expiration date and/or a password.

By default, people who receive the link will be able to view the document and download their own copy if they wish to edit it. If you want them to edit the copy that is in your OneDrive, for example so you can work on it simultaneously, tick the ‘Allow editing’ box. If you want recipients only to view the information and not be able to take a copy for themselves, toggle the ‘Block download’ setting to On (you cannot do this if you have allowed editing). Click ‘Apply’ when you are happy with your settings.

Back in the ‘Send Link’ box you can now:

  • Send the link directly to specified people with an optional message. They will receive an email notification.
  • Copy the link, for example to put on a Blackboard site (note that if you have selected ‘Specific people’ you will have needed to enter their details already).
  • Go to your Outlook to compose a full message. Clicking this button will populate a new email with the recipients you have specified and a link to the file, and you can add anything else in the usual way.
A note on sharing and its limitations
While OneDrive provides technical solutions for great control over your documents, as always there is a human element. Use your common sense and be aware of GDPR and confidentiality rules. Even if you restrict download of a document, there is nothing to prevent users taking a screenshot if they really want to share or retain the information. When dealing with personal data, always limit your sharing to those who need to know.

Keeping track of shared files

You can always see when a file is shared.

In One Drive:

Icon showing a file has been shared in OneDrive

In File Explorer:

Icon showing a file has been shared in File Explorer

In OneDrive you can also go to your Shared area on the left and you will see two tabs that show you all the files that have been shared with you or that you have shared.

Screenshot of Shared Files tabs

Click on the three dots next to your file and select ‘Manage Access’ to stop sharing or change the sharing permissions.

Screenshot of Manage Access menu item

See also:

Sharing files using OneDrive – Sharing to a module

Sharing files using OneDrive – Sign-up lists

Sharing files using OneDrive – Working in breakout groups