Office 365 Document Sharing Guide

How to share Office 365 documents directly from Office 2016

Part 2: Whether you use Office 2016 in Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, or the web, you can share Office documents directly with others

How to share Office 365 documents directly from Office 2016

Office 365 Document Sharing Guide

The easiest way to share Office documents is from Office 2016 itself. All the apps allow you to share the currently open document, and apps on some platforms also let you share files from the file list, even if they are not currently open.

Whether you're using Windows, MacOS, iOS, or Android, you can share an open document the same way: Click or tap the Share button (the person icon on the right side of the toolbar; in Windows it also carries the label Share).

Microsoft offers Windows users a fairly complex set of sharing options in the Share pane. Several involve sending a link to collaborators via email. Recipients can open or view the documents in a browser or in Office 2016, and they will need an Office 365 account.

Here are the related options for email-based sharing:

  • Use the Invite People field to type in the names or email addresses of those you want to share with, or click the Address Book icon to open your company’s Exchange Global Access List, as shown in Figure 7. Only people in the GAL can get shared documents this way, unless IT has enabled third-party sharing for Office 365.
  • Use the Can Edit menu to enable recipients to edit the document, such as for collaborative editing or review cycles, or to grant them read-only access to the document, such as for shared documentation.
  • Use the Automatically Share Changes menu to control whether any changes you make are shared with the recipients automatically, only when you authorize them to be shared, or never. People editing the document will have the current version of the contents, so this menu is really about whether notifications are sent to those people.
  • If you want to provide information about the document you are sharing, enter it in the comments field. That comment will be placed in the body of the email they receive.

When ready to share the document via email notification, click the Share button.

Office 365 in-document sharing: Windows

Figure 7. The Sharing pane (at right) from within a document in Office 2016. If desired, click the Address Book button to find colleagues from your company’s Exchange Global Address List (shown at left).

You can also share documents by copying a link to it in an email, text message, or other digital medium. To do so, click Get a Sharing Link at the bottom of the Share pane. A new pane will open that lets you choose what kind of link to send: read-only or editable from Office Online. Paste that link into a message, document, or whatever; when your colleague clicks the link, the document will open in Office Online in their browser.

The options are similar but simpler for non-Windows users. MacOS and iOS have very similar UIs for sharing in the Share pop-up that appears when you click or tap the Share button:

  • Invite People lets you send an email to recipients that contains a link to the document. You can't access the Global Access List in MacOS or iOS, so you’ll have to begin typing at least part of their names to find them. Select Can Edit in the form that appears if you want recipients to be able to edit the document in Office Online or Office 2016.
  • Copy Link copies a link to the document. Click the option to have the URL automatically saved to the MacOS or iOS Clipboard, for pasting into a message, text, or other digital medium. Note that you can't specify whether the document is editable or not using this method. Instead, you control editing status via OneDrive Online as described in Part 4.
  • Send Attachment opens your email client and attaches the document to a new message, for you to send to whomever you want the old-fashioned way. This emailed document is a copy of the original, so you can't collaborate on an edit when sharing via this method. When you click Send Attachment, you get a choice of file formats to send: the native file format or a PDF.

Android users get only two options in the Share pane:

  • Share a Link opens a window from which you choose your preferred method of sharing the link: via email, Google Drive, or any of several other apps. You cannot choose to make the document editable as you can in Windows, MacOS, and iOS.
  • Share an Attachment works exactly like Send Attachment in MacOS and iOS above.

In iOS and MacOS, you can also share files when they are not open:

  • In MacOS, click Recents in the File window to show recently opened documents. Right-click a file and choose Share from the contextual menu. You get the Invite People and Copy Link options in its submenu.
  • In iOS, tap the Share button to the right of a file name in the File window's Recents list, then tap Share in the menu that appears. You get the Invite People, Copy Link, and Send Attachment options.
Office 365 online editing

Figure 8. After opening a file in Office Online, you can choose to edit it in the browser or in a native Office 2016 app.

If other people are editing or have been granted editing access to a document, you should see their names in the Share pane in Windows and MacOS. In iOS, click Shared With in the Share pane to see the list. If you see a name more than once, it means that person has opened the document from more than device. In those three platforms, you'll see a badge next to the Share button showing how many users are currently editing the document. Unfortunately, the Office apps in Android do not show how many people are editing a document or who has access.

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