How can you request files from external partners using SharePoint?

This question is popular on the Microsoft Forum, with more than 200 votes and 35 comments.  Currently you’ll need to use some kind of workaround. You can’t just use SharePoint to collect files from people external to your organisation.

Let’s have a look at your options:

  • The situation with SharePoint and file requests
  • Use SharePoint and OneDrive to create a file request
  • Use SharePoint and file upload software
  • Turn to a competitor to collect files

The situation with SharePoint and file requests

At the moment, it isn’t possible to collect files from people external to your organisation using SharePoint, like you can for OneDrive.

Microsoft users want the same functionality for SharePoint as they have for OneDrive.

Confusingly, the file request feature was briefly available in 2020 for SharePoint. However, it appears this was a mistake and the feature was quickly withdrawn.

Use SharePoint and OneDrive to create a file request

As a workaround, you can use the file request feature of OneDrive to actually request files (see the Microsoft tutorial).

You can then use Power Automate to automate sending the files to SharePoint.

Be aware though, that the file request OneDrive feature is not available for Office 365 Government, Office 365 operated by 21Vianet, OneDrive for home, or Office 365 Germany though. You will need a business or school account.

For more information about how to use the file request OneDrive feature, as well as its limitations, look at our article on Microsoft OneDrive.

Use SharePoint and file upload software

Another option, is to use file upload software that specialises in providing customisable file upload pages. These pages allow you to easily gather files from anyone.

There are a number of file upload services, like ContentSnare and FileInvite. However, these require you to use Zapier to connect their product to SharePoint. File Request Pro is the only one (at the time of writing) with a native integration to SharePoint.

The advantage of file upload software is that you get a more sophisticated and customisable experience.

You can create forms to gather text content, as well as files. You can then customise your upload page, embed it in your website, set up automated reminders, and approve or reject files before they enter your cloud storage system.

Find out how to create a file upload page that integrates with SharePoint.

Turn to a competitor to collect files

If you don’t need to use your Microsoft ecosystem for requesting files, you can always use a competitor. Dropbox is a possibility: here is their help article on collecting files from people using a Dropbox request. Crucially, people don’t need a Dropbox account to send you files.

Using Dropbox to request files has limitations, as you’d expect of a service that offers file collection as an ‘add on’ rather than as core functionality. You can’t customise upload forms or gather any type of content. However, it does the basic job of collecting files.

Google Forms is also a popular choice, although people uploading files will need a Google account. Here’s our article on how to upload files using Google Forms.