Block Downloading For View-Only Links In SharePoint Online And OneDrive

Another great feature released by Microsoft in Office 365 for SharePoint/OneDrive for Business is file sharing. Let us get an overview of this new feature that enables the user to share view-only links with other users without allowing them to download the file.

File Sharing is one of the great features released by Microsoft in Office 365 for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. On the "User Voice" page, a request was created and more than 2500 voted for it. Finally, Microsoft heard about it and implemented the changes in late November 2018. As of today, it is almost released worldwide. This new feature lets the user share view-only links with other users without allowing them to download the copy of the shared file.

Issue

Sharing a link for documents with anyone is a common practice. When I share it with users, they can download the copy of the file, which is not good.

What I want is that when I share a file with some users and ask them to review the file, they should not be able to download the copy of that file. I want them to use Office Online to view the document. There should be some option on the Link Sharing screen where I can select the option for blocking the download.

Resolution

Microsoft heard the voice and worked on that feature which is finally implemented worldwide (depending upon your tenant release model). This will unify the sharing experience and give the users more control how they want to share the file in SharePoint or OneDrive for Business.

With this new option, when a user wants to share a link with other users (depending upon your settings), it gets the option to block download under the “Other Settings” tab. A user can turn it off/on as per the requirement.

*This option only works with view-only links. If you want more than the View option (Edit), then this option will be grayed out.

Let's do the step by step exploration of the new "Blocked Download" option.

  • Open any SharePoint Online Site in the browser.
  • Go the document library.
  • Select the document and from command bar, click on "Copy Link" (You can do it via clicking on ellipsis and then clicking on the "Copy link" option or click on "Share" and select "Copy link").

    SharePoint Online And OneDrive, Block Download For View Only Links
  • On this, you will get the link of the document and below that, you will see whom you are sharing and what permission level is already assigned to this document.

  • Now, click on the sharing option “Anyone with this link can edit”.
SharePoint Online And OneDrive, Block Download For View Only Links
  • On this "Link Settings" page, you will see “Who would you like this link to work for?” and other settings for this document.

    SharePoint Online And OneDrive, Block Download For View Only Links
  • The following sharing levels will be available (Depending upon your tenant/Site Sharing settings)

    • Anyone
    • People in your Organization
    • People with existing access
    • Specific People

  • Under the Other Settings, the following options will be available.

    • Allow Editing
    • Set expiration date
    • Block Download

Note
If you check the “Allow editing” on the document, then "Block Download" will be grayed out. Only the help icon will remain available which will tell to uncheck the “Allow editing” option so as to block the download.

  • Select the Sharing option, set the expiry date, and block the download.
  • Click "Apply".

    SharePoint Online And OneDrive, Block Download For View Only Links
  • Now, copy the link address and send it to the desired audience.

    If you notice two small icons appearing next to the sharing details, you will see one for expiration date and the second one for blocked downloads.

    SharePoint Online And OneDrive, Block Download For View Only Links

This will complete the blocking of the downloads process. Now, whenever a user opens the link, they will see the document in Office Online in blocked mode.

Now, let’s see when users open this link in the browser, what options they can see.

SharePoint Online And OneDrive, Block Download For View Only Links
  • Open the URL in a browser.

  • It opens the file in Office Online in the web and there is a notification on the top of the document that informs the user that “You don’t have permission to download or print this file.” So, the user cannot even copy the data in this case.
SharePoint Online And OneDrive, Block Download For View Only Links
  • Another interesting thing - If a user ignores the message and tries to type something on the document, another notification will appear on the document. Read-only This Document is read-only.”

Wow, this is a great option. Well done SharePoint and OneDrive teams for this wonderful feature.

Please give me your feedback and tell me on which topic you want more information. I will try to write about that.

Till then, enjoy SharePointing.