For an overview of attaching files from SharePoint, and an explanation of the different choices you can make depending upon exactly what you are sharing and to whom, please see SharePoint - Attaching Files to E-mails and External Sharing

This article will show you how to attach a file from a modern SharePoint team site to an e-mail that you are sending from the Outlook web app. If you want attach a file from OneDrive, please see Attaching a File in Outlook from OneDrive, but you'll notice that it is a very similar process.

You will see that if your recipient is an external user (i.e. not part of your school), then requiring them to sign in to access a file may not be the smoothest process when attaching and sharing a file using Outlook. For this reason, if you need to send a file as an attachment to an external user consider these alternatives:

  • Share Anonymously - As detailed below, you can change the sharing permissions when attaching the file, and allowing Anyone with the link to view / view and edit makes it much easier for the recipient to access the file. Use this method if it doesn't matter if someone other than the recipient might get to view the contents of the attachment.
  • Attach as a Copy - As detailed below you can attach the file as a copy, just like a traditional e-mail attachment, rather than sharing from SharePoint. You can combine this with Office 365's built in e-mail encryption and protection when you need to share secure information.
  • Share the file directly from SharePoint - Rather than attaching the file to an e-mail, just share it directly from SharePoint, as per How to Share a File or Folder Directly from SharePoint or OneDrive. This makes it easier for an external recipient to access the file, but allows to share with specific person and retain control of the original file.

How to Attach a File in Outlook from SharePoint

Click New in Outlook to start creating a new e-mail

Create new e-mail

Click Attach > Cloud locations

 Attach File to e-mail

Click Group Files

Select the Group (SharePoint Team Site) from where you want to select a file.

Select Group Files

Select the file that you want to attach

Click Next

Select file to attach

The file you selected will be attached to the e-mail. By default, this will be a 'Cloud Attachment'.

If you would rather 'attach the file as a copy' (like a traditional e-mail file attachment), then click the drop down arrow on the attached file and click Attach as a Copy

If you choose to just 'Attach as a Copy',  you can just go ahead with completing your e-mail and send it.

 Choose to Attach as a Copy

If you stick with the default 'Cloud Attachment', so you are sending a link to the original file rather than creating a copy, then you can change the permissions for that link.

The default sharing permissions for your Office 365 tenancy will have been applied. In this example it is 'Recipients can edit' which means that recipients will have to authenticate (not shared anonymously) but they can then edit the file.

To change the sharing permissions click the drop down arrow and click Change Permissions

Choose Change Permissions

Select the permission you want to apply

Recipients can edit - recipients will be able to edit the file. External users will have to authenticate.

Recipients can view - recipients will only be able to view the file. External users will have to authenticate.

Only people in the 'school' tenancy can view and edit - As it says, only members of your school will be able to edit or view

Only people in the 'school' tenancy can view - only members of your school will be able to view

Anyone with the link can view and edit - the  file is shared anonymously. External users will be able to view and edit the file without verifying their identity

Anyone with the link can view - the  file is shared anonymously. External users will be able to view and the file without verifying their identity

Once you have made your choice, click OK

Select Permissions for cloud attachment

Once you have completed making your choices about how to add your attachment, you can finish completing your e-mail and click Send

Send e-mail


What Is It Like For The Recipient?

If you shared the file attachment anonymously (Anyone with a link…)


Click the link to open the attached file

received e-mail with anonymous attachment

The file will just open directly in Office online

attachment opens in Office Online

If you shared the link requiring external recipients to sign in


The recipient will get 2 e-mails: Your original e-mail and one sent by Office 365 saying that someone wants to share a file.

The recipient can click either file

two e-mails for attachment shared to specific person

Depending on which e-mail the recipient clicks on, they can either click on the attached file, or the prompt to sign in.

e-mail 1

e-mail 2

The recipient will be prompted to either sign in with a personal Microsoft account (e.g., LIVE, xbox), or with an organisational account (e.g. Office 365 account).

If the recipient doesn’t have an account they can create a Microsoft account, using the link at the bottom of the message.

Rather than just giving the user one-time access to the file, SharePoint is actually adding them as external user to Office 365. Hence the recipient is seeing the same process as if accepting an invitation to SharePoint. Making someone a guest user of your Office 365 can make future external sharing with that user easier, but makes the initial process more difficult, and so this method may not be appropriate for occasional sharing. Consider either anonymous sharing, as detailed above, or sharing directly form SharePoint.

Sign in with Microsoft or Organisational account

Once the user has an account they can sign in

Microsoft sign in
Depending upon how Access request settings have been configured on your SharePoint, if the user has never accessed a file from your Office 365 SharePoint before they will then have to request access. This will then send an access request to an owner of the SharePoint site to which they require access. Access request prompt

The owner of the SharePoint site may need to now respond to an access request to grant the external user access to your SharePoint. Once this is done the user will be able to get access, by clicking on the links in the e-mails again

Access request to SharePoint Administrator