SharePoint Online’s Useful Manage Access Option

How to Check That You’re Sharing with the Right People

If you’re not a SharePoint professional, the permissions to allow people to access files can be confusing. The advent of Office 365 Groups and Teams makes it much easier because everyone in a group has the same level of access to data (and you should resist the temptation to mess with the permissions for a group-enabled SharePoint site).

The permissions assigned to group members give them direct access. You can also give access to other people inside and outside the tenant by sharing files or folders with them. Unless they know about user sharing, owners of a site can lose sight of the access non-site members have to content, and that’s a bad thing. Fortunately, SharePoint Online now has a Manage Access option to help.

Managing Access

To access the Manage Access (or manage permissions) panel, select a document and open the details pane (the pane that shows you the document title and other properties and allows you to assign a retention label). Click Manage access and you’ll see something like what’s shown in Figure 1, which comes from a document stored in the site we use to build Office 365 for IT Pros.

SharePoint Online Manage Access
Figure 1: SharePoint Online Manage Access

The Direct Access section lists the permissions granted through the Office 365 Group that owns the site. You can change these by clicking the Advanced link, which brings you to the old-style permissions management screen (Figure 2). Don’t make changes here. As noted above, it can lead to a world of hurt.

Managing SharePoint Site Permissions the Old-Fashioned Way
Figure 2: Managing SharePoint Site Permissions the Old-Fashioned Way

Above Direct Access, we see any sharing links that exist for the document. In this case, there’s just one. If you click […] beside the link, SharePoint shows you details of the link. You can edit the link settings to add people, remove people, change what the link allows (from view only to edit or vice versa), or remove the link entirely (Figure 3).

Editing details of a sharing link
Figure 3: Editing details of a sharing link

Remember to Save when you’re finished changing permissions. It’s amazing how often people don’t and then can’t understand why the permissions they set aren’t active!


For more information about how to manage SharePoint Online, read the riveting chapter in Office 365 for IT Pros.

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