What happens when you share via OneDrive?

As an MVP, it is easy to get caught up in all of the latest announcements and features and forget that many users are still learning the basics. As I’m preparing to schedule another M365AMA (Ask-Me-Anything) recording later this week, I’ve been compiling questions for us to cover, but thought I’d address some questions around OneDrive.

OneDrive is one of those fundamental tools within the Microsoft ecosystem that I don’t think much about, but use almost every day. It is a cloud storage service that provides you with a secure place to store, share, and access your files. With OneDrive, you can store photos, documents, videos, and other types of files in the cloud and then access them from any device with an internet connection — you can log in from anywhere and access all of your content. You can also share files or folders with others so they can view or collaborate on your work.

Here are some questions from the community on how OneDrive works:

What happens behind-the-scenes when you share a file using OneDrive?

When you share a document in OneDrive with an external contact, the document is first uploaded to Microsoft’s cloud servers where it is stored. Then, a secure link to the document is generated and sent via email to the external contact. This secure link provides access to the stored document without requiring any additional logins or passwords from the recipient. Once they click on the link, they will be able to view and edit the document depending on your specified permissions. The changes made by the external contact are then synced back automatically to OneDrive so that everyone with access can see them.

Can I change permissions/access to a file that has already been shared externally?

When you change a document’s permissions after you’ve shared the document via OneDrive, the changes will be reflected automatically for everyone with access to the document. This means that any user who already has access to the file will be able to view and/or edit it based on the updated permissions. On the other hand, external contacts who have not yet accessed the document will have to follow the new permission settings once they attempt to access it.

Can I revoke access to a file that I’ve already shared, or is it too late?

Yes, you can easily revoke access to a document that you have shared using OneDrive. All you have to do is go to the ‘Shared with’ tab and select the person or people whose access you would like to remove. You will then see a prompt asking you to confirm your decision. Once confirmed, the selected user will no longer be able to view or edit the document.

What happens if I revoke access while that file is in use?

If you have revoked access to a file shared using OneDrive, the recipient will be unable to save changes to the document and will be unable to access it again if they close it. Any unsaved edits will be lost and the document’s icon in their OneDrive folder or on the desktop will be greyed out.

Can I use OneDrive without a Microsoft 365 subscription?

Yes, you can use OneDrive without a Microsoft 365 subscription. You can store files on your computer or a USB drive and then sync them to the cloud with OneDrive. With this method, you will not be able to access your files from anywhere like with a Microsoft 365 subscription, but you will still be able to access those files from any device with an internet connection and the OneDrive app installed.


Do you have any other OneDrive questions that I can answer, or that the M365AMA panel can address? Leave a comment.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (https://rencore.com/), leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.