End User Experience Testing - Inconsistent Warning Messages

Brass Contributor

We've been doing some user experience testing before enabling OfB for our users and came across what we think is an odd behaviour.


Our tenant has the following settings for sharing:

- Only existing external users (sign-in required)

Allow or block sharing with people on select domains

For testing purposes, we've limited the allowed external sharing domains to "gmail.com"


When sharing a file in OneDrive to a "outlook.com" email address, the warning message returned is...

"We couldn't find an exact match." - Not the most helpful message


When sharing the same file to a "gmail.com" email address, but the account does NOT exist in the AAD, the following warning message is returned...

"Your organization's policies don't allow you to share with these users.  Go to External Sharing in the Office 365 admin center to enable it" - Even less helpful if you are an end user.


Just wanting to confirm this is the experience we should have in this use case and whether or not anyone thinks this could be done a little better?


OneDrive Sharing.gif

13 Replies
I think the problem could be related to the fact that this setting is expecting a corporate domain and not gmail.com / hotmail.com / similar...but I hope someone from the team can provide the right answer

In my mind, these scenarios should return a similar error message if we are talking about end user experience.  A message indicating that this email address is not allowed to be shared with or something to that effect.

Hey @PGraham,


Are your end users seeing that exact message as well or is it only your admin account? The message directing you to the admin center should only appear if your account is an SP admin or an O365 admin. More broadly, we definitely know that some of our error messages are less than useful and it's something we're looking to improve. Thanks!


Stephen Rice

OneDrive Program Manager II

Can OneDrive be a replacement for file server?

I sure wouldn't just because of the headache of permissions.

Seems like SharePoint and/or Teams would be a better match up to work pseudo-like a file server.

@Jaffer Mohammed,


Technically yes but Cary is right that SharePoint will be easier. 


In a user's OneDrive, create a folder and share it with all the people who need access. The files will be owned by whoever's OneDrive it is (and thus content will need to be moved if that person leaves).


In SharePoint, create a new team site and add everyone to the team. There is an Owners group you can configure that will allow you to manage content and change owners if needed.

I hear you but Sharepoint online is expensive, I have used Sharepoint in past. 

@Cary Siemers wrote:

I sure wouldn't just because of the headache of permissions.

Seems like SharePoint and/or Teams would be a better match up to work pseudo-like a file server.


Only you and your company can decide if the expense is worth it or not.

Thanks @StephenRice for the reply.


You are correct the experience using a general user is slightly better, but in my mind the error messages should be the same, no?





The error message has two parts: The first is meant to tell you why the action you're taking didn't work (and this is where we could be more specific). The second is to help the user find remediation. If it's an end user, they can't fix this on their own so we direct them to talk to their IT person, admin, etc. For an admin though, we wanted to let them know where the setting was so that they could follow up. Thanks,


Stephen Rice

OneDrive Program Manager II

I agree with you on that point and sorry for the confusion, but I was referring to the two original warning messages in my scenario (non-existent vs non-allowed domain).


If they are not meant to be the same, then they should be more descriptive to the reason why it is failing maybe?

Oh I see, I misunderstood. Yep, we should definitely be more descriptive. We're doing some work here to improve error messaging (not sure if this particular distinction will be covered) but I'll surface this internally as well for discussion. Thanks!


Stephen Rice