In two separate posts on the Office Blogs on October 8, Microsoft announced ways to easily share files in Outlook Web App and Outlook.com directly from OneDrive for Business and OneDrive respectively.
Advantages of sharing links vs attaching files
The advantages of attaching links as opposed to actually sending the files are:
- Large files don’t have to move in email necessarily, thereby reducing the chances of emails bouncing off email servers which don’t accept attachments above a certain size.
- If this is a file which can be edited online (for example, Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint which can be co-edited in Office Online), it does not have multiple versions floating across multiple people’s emails.
- Permissions can be revoked at any time by the person sharing the file. This way, if a project is done and one does not want the rest of the team to have access to that file anymore, they can go to OneDrive for Business or OneDrive and remove that person’s email address from the list.
How it works: Outlook Web App
The way it works on Outlook Web App is as follows: start an email as always, and under the file attachment area, use the “attachments or OneDrive files” option. After a file is selected from OneDrive for Business, it creates a link to the file in the email as well as applies the appropriate permissions to everyone in the To and CC list. By default, everyone on To and CC get permissions to edit the file, but each file’s access can be edited after attaching, so certain people can be limited to read-only vs edit.
If one chooses a file on the local PC instead of from OneDrive for Business, the file is first uploaded to OneDrive for Business and then a link is generated to the file as above.
In addition, this functionality is also available on the OWA apps on iPhone, iPad and Android.
Another feature to note here is that when someone gets an attachment in this way, and they open the file, it opens the file in co-author mode. This way, multiple people can edit the documents at the same time, keeping a single version of the file.
How it works: Outlook.com
Much like how it works with Outlook Web App, when you insert an attachment from OneDrive in the Outlook.com web app, it will send the file as a link. In both Outlook Web App and Outlook.com, the recipients will see the attachments almost the same as how they see normal attachments. The recipients will see a cloud icon on the icon of the attachment, and text which says that the file is on OneDrive.
This is a neat idea and I do hope we move away from email attachment overload, it’s just that we are so used to physical attachments, it is going to be a hard change to see through. However, with more and more cloud storage being offered by the key players in the platforms space (Google, Apple and Microsoft), I do see a future where many of us will make cloud storage our primary document repository. If that happens, I am hoping the email attachment culture will reduce and we move to link-sharing.
How do you send large attachments? Let us know in the comments below!