External sharing in modern sites

Frequent Contributor



I need to share a communication site with external users. I have enabled external sharing through powershell and checked that the admin settings allows for anonymous sharing on the tenant level. But sharing with anonymous users or users with a microsoft account does not work. 


What is the definition of an "external user" for extranet scenarios? Does this user need to be a licensed O365 user?





10 Replies
If this user is not a corporate user, he/she is not going to require a SPO license. If you have configured your communication site to enable external sharing, you should be able to share it with a externa user using a Microsoft account

@Juan Carlos González Martín, thank you.


I have another question. What is exactly the definition of an external user?


Microsoft definition:

“An external user is someone outside your organization who can access your SharePoint Online sites and documents but does not have a license for your SharePoint Online or Microsoft Office 365 subscription. External users are not employees, contractors, or onsite agents for either you or your affiliates.”


In my case, I have one large company (1500 employees). 500 of these are Head Office-employees and will require an Office 365/SPO license to manage content and communication. The rest, 1000 employees, work in the company stores. We do not want to license these employees (too costly) as they only need to view company news and documents through a shared device or computer. Can these users be regarded to as external users? If not, what is the best way to realize the requirements?



best response confirmed by Maggan Wåhlin (Frequent Contributor)
Well, my understanding is that in your case you will need a license for all the employees just because they are in the end employees no matter the role they play in your company
I was afraid of that :-). Thank you for the quick response!

You can get them the new F1 (used to be K1) license, see

@Dean Gross, thank you, this seems to be what we need. But how does it work really? If there are several people using the same device, do every person need to log in personally or is it possible to use a shared log in like

Using shared logins is typically not recommended. This makes auditing impossible and is a bad security practice. Microsoft published an excellent set of documents for managing accounts in the retail industry that you may find helpful, see Let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.

At the moment, this is a known issue by Microsoft. It is my understanding that the initial rollout of the Communication sites is set with external sharing turned off, hence, you cannot see a communication site in the Admin UI, and therefore cannot turn it back on to either share annonomously or with authentication. Simply having a microsoft account will not work since sharing is turned off.  It is my understanding that microsoft is still testing this feature and at some point will enable it in the Admin UI.  It is also my understanding that some users have reported having some success turning shareing on with Powershell, and that some also have not. If you are not well versed in this command line interface, I advise not to go there. You may really screw the pooch. 

@Robert Ranta, thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I am aware of this issue and the rollout plan. In my communication site, I was able to enable external sharing with powershell and encountered no problems. However, I am just in the testing phase at this point using my personal developer tenant. So I am not worried :)

Great articles, thank you for directing me :)