Anonymous Site Access in Office 365 (SharePoint Online)

Recently, I have been asked a question about Anonymous Access in Office 365 (SharePoint Online). The question was – Can we give anonymous access to users within and outside the organization, so that just like any other Internet facing website, users will not enter their credentials and can directly see the SharePoint site contents ?

The requirement was – To share a Video Library/Document Library with all users (internal & external).

WOW. My first reaction and response to the question was “NOT POSSIBLE”. We can apply anonymous access in on-premise SharePoint Site/List/Library, but not in Office 365. There might be some third-party web-parts or sandbox solutions to deal with this, but there is no direct way to give anonymous access in Office 365.

To confirm my statement, I explored on Internet and found the same answers. We can only share list items with external users but cannot share a site/list anonymously. Also, I was sure that even Public facing sites cannot solve this purpose. Then I explored more on Public facing and Private sites in Office 365 and surprisingly, found the following facts from MS sites which details about Office 365 updates and plans:-

  1. Beginning May 1, 2017, anonymous access for existing sites will no longer be available.
  2. On September 1, 2017, when Microsoft deletes the public site collection in SharePoint Online, customers will no longer have access to the content, images, pages or any other files that reside on their public website. Before September 1, 2017, customers should make a backup copy of all their public website content, images, pages, and files, so they don’t lose them permanently.
  3. On March 31, 2018, Microsoft will delete all public sites that have been postponed.

I have listed only few updates and announcements from MS, the complete information, you can get on this site – Information about changes to the SharePoint Online Public Websites feature in Office 365

Finally, to conclude on anonymous access in Office 365, I will say that you can use external sharing features of SharePoint Online to share content with people outside your organization who do not have licenses for your Microsoft Office 365 subscription. However, that is just a sharing and not anonymous access, which means every user has to enter username and password to access the site resources. Share sites or documents with people outside your organization


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