SharePoint Online : External users can and can’t

Who is an external user in SharePoint Online?

An external user is someone outside of your organization who can access your SharePoint Online sites and documents but does not have a license for your SharePoint Online or Microsoft Office 365 subscription. External users are not employees, contractors, or onsite agents for you or your affiliates.

External users can… External users can’t…
Use Office Online for viewing and editing documents. If your plan includes Office Pro Plus, they will not have the licenses to install the desktop version of Office on their own computers. Create their own personal sites (what used to be referred to as My Sites), edit their profile, change their photo, or see aggregated tasks. External users don’t get their own OneDrive for Business document library.


Perform tasks on a site consistent with the permission level that they are assigned. For example, if you add an external user to the Members group, they will have Edit permissions and they will be able to add, edit and delete lists; they will also be able to view, add, update and delete list items and documents. Be an administrator for a site collection (except in scenarios where you’ve hired a partner to help manage Office 365. You can designate an external user as a designer for your Public Website.

NOTE   The SharePoint Online Public Website information in this article applies only if your organization purchased Office 365 prior to March 9, 2015. If you purchased Office 365 after March 9, 2015, use an Office 365 website hosting partner

See other types of content on sites. For example, they can navigate to different subsites within the site collection to which they were invited. They will also be able to do things like view site feeds. See the company-wide newsfeed
  Add storage to the overall tenant storage pool


  Access the Search Center or execute searches against “everything.” Other search features that may not be available include: Advanced Content Processing, continuous crawls, and refiners.
  Access site mailboxes
  Access PowerBI features such as Power View, Power Pivot, Quick Explore, or Timeline Slicer. These features require an additional license, which is not inherited by external users.
  Use eDiscovery. This requires an Exchange Online license.


  Open downloaded documents that are protected with Information Rights Management (IRM).
  Excel Services features, including Calculated Measures and Calculated Members, decoupled Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts, Field List and field support, filter enhancements, search filters.
  SharePoint Online data connection libraries
  Visio Services




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