Free Microsoft Teams for communities: public file sharing

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In my last post on using Microsoft Teams as an online community hub I looked at how to setup Teams. In this post I want to talk about how you can use Teams to share files with your community.

A challenge the Azure Sydney User Group has been facing is providing access to presentations, etc, from our meetups so they are easily accessible to members and guests alike.

We have been using the consumer version of OneDrive for a while, but it's problematic from a user group like this one that has multiple sub-goups and organisers.

To address our challenges using Teams we've created a "Meetup Content" Channel and will then use this for our presentations and other collateral to share with people. By default our Team members have access to this content. At time of writing the free edition of Teams provides 10 GB of shared storage and 2 GB per user private storage.

The hierarchy we're using is: Year > Meetup where "Meetup" is the format of "Month - Location - Topic" (2020 > March - CBD - Dev).

Teams Files for Meetup Content

Note: it might take a little while for the Files capability to be available in your free Teams tenant for use as the Files capability is provided by SharePoint Online which is provisioned as a separate automated process when you create a free Teams tenant. The process usually completes within a couple of hours though.

Controlling who can post content

In the case of this particular Channel in Teams we want to make sure only authorised people can post updates so we set the Channel permissions as follows.

As an admin user you can access the Channel settings by clicking on the three dots, then Manage Channel.

Channel setup - step 1 - access settings

We have set the Channel to be moderated and to allow only Teams Owners to post new messages.

Channel setup - step 2 - settings

Anonymous file sharing

You can view the PDF of our main presentation for our March CBD meetup using this shared link (no Teams access required!)

The Teams free tier requires a little bit of a workaround to get that anonymous sharing link which involves digging into the underlying platform for Files in Teams - SharePoint Online. In the paid version of Teams the "Share" capability is a standard feature, but in the free edition of Teams links produced by "Copy Link" will require people to login which we didn't want.

Here's how to get an anonymous, view-only link.

Let's start, in Teams, by clicking on the 'Copy Link' for the file we want to share anonymously.

Anonymous file share - step 1 - Copy link in Teams

Once the "Get link" dialog opens (see below) click on "SharePoint" to get the full SharePoint link. Copy that link.

Anonymous file share - step 2 - Get link dialog in Teams

The resulting link will look similar to this:

(Note that if you click the above link you'll be asked to log into Teams).

This protected URL does provide us with what we need though!

Using a browser as as an authorised Teams user you can paste the following portion of the URL into the address bar:

This will open the Folder in SharePoint containing the file you want to share as shown below.

Anonymous file share - step 3 - SharePoint Document Library Folder

Now hover over the file and the Share icon will show and you should click on it.

Anonymous file share - step 4 - Open File Share Dialog

The Send Link dialog opens (see below) - note that it says "Anyone with the link can edit". Let's change that before we share!

Click on the text that says "Anyone with the link can edit".

Anonymous file share - step 5 - Change Shared File Permissions

This opens the Link Settings dialog (below) where we can now modify by unchecking the "Allow editing" box (highlighted with orange square) and then clicking "Apply".

Anonymous file share - step 6 - Link Settings Dialog

When we return to the Send Link dialog we can see the permission has changed to "Anyone with the link can view". Click on "Copy Link" to get the shareable link.

Anonymous file share - step 7 - Click Copy Link Button

In this final dialog we can copy the link that anyone can access.

Anonymous file share - step 8 - Link Copied

At this point you now have the link in your clipboard and can reuse it wherever you like - in an email, on Meetup, even in Teams itself!

Happy Days.