Do you spend time getting people to email documents to you that you then need to file? Often from outside your organisation?

Do you sometimes need to get several people to send you files at once? Fed up of sorting through emails (WhatsApp message, FB Messenger notification, WeTransfer – however people chose to get in touch and send you stuff), saving attachments and renaming documents.

OneDrive has a useful feature that allows you to choose a folder where other people can submit files directly, using a link you send to them. You then simply request that the file is uploaded to that folder. You don’t have to worry about access issues or looking out for files being returned to you. The people you request files from only have access to upload files; they cannot see the content of the folder, edit, delete, or download files, or even see who else has uploaded files. 

Why would you want to use OneDrive File Requests?

Perhaps you’ve sent out a form or an Excel worksheet that requires individuals to complete and return it to you. Instead of having everybody email the form back to you and then you having to individually move them over, your people can just send it to the folder themselves by following the link – job done!

Or you are asking people from outside your organisation to send you large files, you might otherwise use something like WeTransfer, where the sender uploads to temporary file space provided by WeTransfer, then you login and download the file (and move it into you OneDrive!). Using the OneDrive request files function allows files of up to 250mb to be loaded directly into your OneDrive. Avoiding email file size restrictions and without the need to use additional 3rd party tools. Best of all, the sender does not need to be an M365 user, you don’t necessarily need their email address (just any way of sharing a link with them) and the file does not have to be moved after submission.

Real life examples I have used this for include getting choir members to submit their recordings (organised into folders for each voice part) so the choir director didn’t have to take (often large) audio files from a variety of sources, manually sorting them into folders. Another was in a school setting, where parents and children were asked to submit photos for a photography competition (organised into class groups).

Fantastic – how do I set this up?

Go to your OneDrive on the web (not in File Explorer) at www.office.com and navigate to the folder you want to store the requested files. Or you can create a new folder for this purpose. Click on the 3 dots to open the menu and select Request Files.

Screenshot of OneDrive library

Next enter the name of the files that you are requesting and click Next

Screenshot of Request Files window

The next window then provides you with the unique link to use to send to your team. You can either copy the link and send out to your team, or you can use the facility in this window to send the link out.

What do the recipients see?

Here’s what the recipient sees once they follow the link. They then click Select Files and choose their form to upload.

If your recipient is a Microsoft 365 user and is logged into OneDrive, their name will appear automatically. If they are not logged in, they will be prompted to enter their name. You do not need to be an M365 account holder to submit files using this systemno log in is required.

Once uploaded, your team member will see a success message ✨

And this is what you will see when the files have been submitted. Each file is uploaded with the name of the person submitting added to the file. This makes it easier for you, the requestor, to identify which file belongs to whom.

👍Congratulations! You’ve now automated a tedious and unnecessarily time-consuming task!

Summary

With a OneDrive file request:

  • Anyone can send you a file – they don’t need to have OneDrive.
  • All the files sent to you are saved in a single folder that you choose.
  • People who respond to your request can only upload files. They do not have view or edit access to your OneDrive.
  • You can set a time-limit on submissions – so you don’t get files being added after your deadline has passed.

Pre-requisites

To use OneDrive File Requests,

  • You must be the owner of the folder, or have shared owner rights.
  • You must have an M365 for Business, Enterprise, or Education subscription. This feature is not available with a Personal or Family subscription.
  • Your M365 administrator must enable Anyone links in OneDrive for file requests to work.