University of Southampton


Sharing documents publicly from SharePoint Online and OneDrive

Sometimes it's necessary to share documents with people who you don't know. This means not having an email address to provide shared access to a document. Instead you need to create a link that doesn't require any login in order for other people to access your file(s).

There are two methods to doing this:

  • The first is for temporarily sharing files (up to 60 days).
  • The second is for permanent access via the University's public facing website.

Note: you should check that any document shared with either of these methods is safe to do so i.e. no data protection or legal concerns exist.

Method 1: Temporarily sharing files:

  1. Go to your SharePoint Online or OneDrive space
  2. Select the file or folder you wish to share
  3. Use the Share link and select 'Anyone with the link'
  4. This will generate a link that you can then email to others
  5. You should not share a file for editing via an anonymous link
  6. After 60 days the link will expire and no longer work

Method 2: Permanent public access (via the University's public facing website):

  1. First you'll need access to a folder in the 'public documents' SharePoint Online site - request this via ServiceLine stating the name of your department and the names of those people who need access to create documents for sharing publicly.
  2. Once you've received notification that your folder has been created and you have access to it, go to the public documents SharePoint Online site 
  3. Upload your files to your prescribed folder (given to you from step 1)
  4. In a few minutes your files will be accessible on the following public web address:[foldername]/[filename]
    where [foldername] is the folder you deposited your files and [filename] is the filename of the document. Use this link in your web page. Make sure you include the file type at the end e.g. .docx, .pdf

If you previously shared documents saved in SharePoint 2010 ( or, this method will be discontinued when Groupsite and Intranet are closed later this year. The above (method 2) replaces this. If you have existing files shared from or, let us know and we can setup redirects so you don't have to update all your existing content with the new web address. Please use the new address for any new related pages though.

If you manage your documents elsewhere but want to use method 2 above, you can use an application called Flow to synchronise files and folders between locations. Thus copying any changes into the public documents folder and therefore ensuring the publicly shared version is always up-to-date. Please contact us for further information on using Flow.

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