Stop sharing the Public folder in Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive is Microsoft’s online storage, what was for a long time called SkyDrive. You can store up to 15GB of files there for free and it is a great facility. Sharing files is encouraged and there is a ready-made Public folder designed for just that, but you need to think twice before using it or you could unintentionally share more than you intended.

The Public folder is exactly what it says and the general public is able to access any files that are stored in it.

Suppose you have a file that you want to share with Bob. You put it in the Public folder, select the file with the tick box next to the filename and then click the Share menu. There is an option to Invite people, which sends them an email containing a link to the file, or you can use Get a link, which you can then copy and paste anywhere you like, such as in an email or on a blog page.

Suppose you then want to share a file with Sue. You follow the same procedure, putting it in the Public folder and either using Invite people or Get a link.

When Sue gets the link in an email on on a blog web page, she can click it to access not just this file that you have shared with her, but every file you have shared in the Public folder. It is a trivial task to view every file you have shared with anyone.

Remember, everything in the Public folder is public. This is fine if you want to share every file with the whole world, but there are times when you don’t. It means that photos shared with your family could be accessed by a work colleague or customer when you share a file with them. This is clearly a problem if you use OneDrive for both work and personal use, because family can access work files and work colleagues can access personal files.

Even if you don’t use the Public folder and leave it empty, it doesn’t look good. When you share a file with someone, even if it isn't in the Public folder (the sharing facilities can be used with any file in any folder), and they access it, there is an odd empty Public folder next to the file they actually want.

After giving this some thought, the best option is to stop sharing the Public folder. When you want to share a file, just select it and use the Share menu at the top of the page in the menu. When files are shared this way, only the shared file can be seen and any files shared with other people are hidden. It gives people a restricted view of OneDrive that contains just the one file you have shared.

Select the Public folder and click Share in the menu at the top.

Share files on OneDrive

You can now see the sharing options and who the Public folder is shared with. Click Everyone underneath Shared with and on the right is a button to Remove link. Click it and the folder is no longer shared.

Stop sharing a file on OneDrive

This won’t stop existing shared files being shared, it just means that the folder cannot be seen by everyone and the files put in there are not automatically shared with everyone. It allows sharing, but in a private way, in other words, you can share a file with one person without letting the whole world access everything.

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1 Comment on Stop sharing the Public folder in Microsoft OneDrive

  1. I am unable to get this to work. Without deleting the shared folder sharing can not be disabled.

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