If we want to share a file or folder inside a document library, we have 3 main methods:-

  1. Direct Access
  2. Share
  3. Grant Permission, as follow:-

User's image

now based on my testing and reading i found those points:-

Point-1) using Share and Direct access (unlike using Grant Permission) will allow the external user to access the File/Folder without having to login. and at the end the users will access the file/folder without having a guest account created inside our tenant.

Point-2) Unlike the Share & Direct Access >> using Grant Permissions >> will show the invitation inside "Access requests and invitations"

User's image

Point-3) Using Grant Permission (unlike share and direct access), and after the user access the file/folder a guest account will be created for the user inside out office 365..

Point-4) If we want to share a document library or list or a site when we only have the option to use Grant Permission

So i have those 3 questions:-

Question-1) is my above 4 points valid and accurate? or i am missing something?

Question-2) when to use each option ? and is there a method that is preferred over the other?

Question-3) Is Share and Direct access have the exact same behaviors and results ?


1 Answer 1


Here are my answers to your questions:

  1. Your points are generally accurate, but you should note that Direct Access requires a guest account to be created for the external user in your tenant.

  2. You should use Grant Permission when you want to explicitly invite external users to access a file or folder and control their access level. Direct Access and Share are more suitable for quick sharing without explicit invitations or for sharing with external users who do not have a guest account in your tenant yet. The method you choose depends on your requirements and the level of control you need over external access.

  3. Share and Direct Access have similar behaviors and results, but Direct Access is more suitable for sharing with external users who do not have a guest account in your tenant yet, while Share is more suitable for inviting external users to create their own guest account in your tenant.

  • regarding point-1, i already test it , and no Guest accounts will be created when we share a file with external users using Share or Direct access. for example, i shared a file with my Gmail account >> and I used "share with Specific users" option >> the user got an email and accessed the file after entering an access code send to his email>> but when i checked my Office 365 Guest accounts under Office 365 Users management, my Gmail account was not there. did you test it at your end? May 8, 2023 at 9:25
  • ..actually i already shared some files with around 10 external users using the Share option, and currently my Guest account section under Office 365 User is empty .. any advcie? May 8, 2023 at 9:25
  • Did you check your gmail account got created with some special character in your username? Cause external user accounts get created with different username what you expect it to be.
    – Pradip R.
    May 8, 2023 at 9:42
  • yes i know they got special chars in the username when they are added to the guest list; my guest account list is empty although i shared some files with 10 users using the share link.. at the end did you test this at your end? as based on my rest sharing a file using the Share option will not create a guest account unlike using the Grant Permission May 8, 2023 at 12:20
  • Can you advice if at your end a guest user got created for an external user when they access a file that have been shared with them using "Share", as at my end this is not the case.. May 11, 2023 at 21:35

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