Sharing files on Box

Before you begin using your IU Box account, be sure to revise your settings according to How do I securely set up my IU Box account?

On this page:

About the different options for sharing

To share files in your IU Box account, you can either share a link, or invite a collaborator into the folder containing your files.

  • Collaboration:

    Collaboration is intended for longer-term projects requiring that the other person be able to continually access the files. Collaboration has seven permission levels, and requires the collaborator to have a Box account. You can invite collaborators to share folders only, not individual files. Depending upon the permission level selected, collaborators may be able to edit, upload, and delete the files in a folder. When you want help revising a document, inviting a collaborator into a folder allows you to revise just one version of a given file, rather than creating multiple versions that you must reconcile later.

  • Shared links:

    Shared links are intended for a quick, one-off need to share a file. Shared links have three access levels, can be password protected, and can be set to auto-expire. Depending upon the access level selected, a person may not need a Box account to access a shared link. Shared links grant read-only permission.

  Collaboration Shared links
User needs a Box account Yes No
User can edit files
If given appropriate permission level
Password-protected No
Available when access set to anyone with the link
Auto-expiration No Yes
Read-only permission
With Previewer permission level
All access levels
Appropriate for internal and external use
Yes Yes
Stats show name for access Yes
Yes, except when access set to anyone with the link

For scenarios in which you may want to use Box to share and collaborate on content, as well as other ideas for how to use your Box account, see What kinds of tasks can I accomplish with my IU Box account?

Box at Indiana University is not appropriate for storing or sharing most types of institutional data classified as Critical. However, with certain additional security measures you may be able to use IU Box with some data that contain protected health information (PHI) regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). For more, see What types of data are appropriate for my IU Box account?

You can generate a link to share either individual files or folders. If you want to share more than one file with certain people, it's best to put them in a folder first, and share a link to the folder.

To share a link to a file or folder:

  1. To the right of the file or folder, click Share.
  2. A link will appear in a pop-up window. By default, the link is restricted to collaborators in the folder. To change the access level (if you have permission to do so), click the current access level under the link and select the appropriate access level from the drop-down list.
  3. To access advanced settings listed below, click the gear icon to the upper right of the link.
  4. You can use Box to email the link to recipients by clicking Email in the pop-up, and then entering the email addresses of your recipients. Alternatively, you can copy the link and paste it into any type of message you choose.

To disable the share link:

  1. Click Shared to the right of the file or folder.
  2. In the pop-up window, click the current access level (e.g., People with the link), and from the drop-down list, select Remove Link.
  3. Click Okay to confirm. Your file or folder is now available only to you and any collaborators you have invited via the process described below.

Advanced settings

  • Custom URL: Available on all access levels, a custom URL allows you to name a link so it is quickly identifiable. Under "Custom URL (Optional)", enter your desired URL; for example, to make a resume available to potential employers, you could make the URL "". Then click Save to finish.
    Custom links must be unique in the entire IU Box space.
  • Password Protect: When using the "People with the link" access level, you can set a password for greater security. Check Require Password and type a password of your choice. Click Save to finish. Others will be prompted for the password before being able to see the file or folder.
  • Link Expiration: For all access options, by checking Disable Shared Link on, you can set a date when the file or folder will no longer be accessible. Select the date, and then click Save to finish.
  • Allow Download: For both the "People with the link" and "People in your company" access levels, you can control whether others can download the file or folder, or only preview it. To allow only the ability to preview, uncheck Allow viewers to download, and click Save to finish.

Inviting collaborators

Maximum file size and account quota (where applicable) depend on who owns a given folder. For example, IU accounts have a file size limit of 15 GB and an unlimited quota, but free Box accounts have a file size limit of 250 MB and a total quota of 10 GB. Files stored in the folder count toward the overall quota of the folder owner only, not toward collaborators' quotas, but if you collaborate on a folder owned by someone outside IU, that person's account limits will apply to the folder.

Inviting individual collaborators

To invite collaborators to a folder:

  1. Do one of the following:
    • In list view, click ... to the right of the folder and select Sharing and thenInvite Collaborators.
    • From within the folder you wish to invite people to, click Invite People in the right pane.
  2. In the pop-up, enter the names or email addresses of the collaborators you wish to invite in the "Invite:" box.

    When collaborating with others at IU, be sure to use each person's primary email address, such as,, or If you use a different address (e.g., an Imail address), the recipient will not be able to log in and access what you sent.

    When collaborating with people outside IU, UITS recommends that your collaborators create their Box accounts before you invite them to a folder. You can then use the email addresses they used when creating their accounts to invite them to collaborate.

  3. From the drop-down list below "Invited Permission", choose the appropriate permission level for the collaborators. As a best practice, give your collaborators the lowest level of permission they need to accomplish their tasks with the files.
  4. Edit the message, if desired, and click Send Invites.

Self-inviting collaborators

If you wish to invite a large number of collaborators, or if your list of collaborators is an undefined subset of a larger group, it may be easier to send collaborators a self-inviting link, rather than entering them individually. For example, if you wish to invite everyone on a particular mail list, email the link to the list. Note that, although you are sending them a link, you are still inviting them as collaborators into the folder by this method, rather than using a shared link, as described above.

To allow collaborators to choose to join a folder:

  1. Click ... to the right of the folder, and select Properties and then Folder Settings.
  2. Under "Invitation Link", check Enable collaborator invitation links.
  3. Choose the appropriate permission level for the collaborators.
  4. Copy the link.
  5. In the upper right, click Save Changes.
  6. Distribute the link to those you wish to invite.

Assigning tasks

To assign tasks to Box collaborators, when previewing a file, click the comment bubble icon to the right of the preview, and select Task. Enter the names or email addresses of the appropriate collaborator(s) in the "Assignees" box, and click Due Date if you wish to assign one. Enter the task details in the "Description" box. Click Assign, and the assignees will receive notification about their task. When they've completed it, they can mark the task as complete.

Removing collaborators

Once a collaborative project is over and collaborators no longer need access to the content, to end collaboration:

  • If you are the folder owner, remove collaborators who no longer need access. In the right pane of the collaborative folder, click the collaborator's current permission level, and then select Remove from the resulting drop-down list. If the collaborator list is large, click the link for more collaborators at the bottom of the list to view collaborators you can't already view.
  • If you are a collaborator, you can remove yourself from the folder. Enter the folder you wish to remove yourself from, and click your current permission level. Select Remove from the resulting drop-down list. Alternatively, you can remove yourself from a folder you do not own by clicking ... to the right of the folder and selecting Remove Folder. (This does not delete the folder; it merely removes you as a collaborator.)

Permission levels

Box offers the following collaborator permission levels:

  • Co-owner: Can upload, download, preview, share, edit, and delete files and folders in the collaborative folder. Also has owner privileges, but cannot remove the folder owner.
  • Editor: Can upload, download, preview, share, edit, and delete files and folders in the collaborative folder.
  • Viewer Uploader: Can upload, download, preview, share, and edit files and folders in the collaborative folder.
  • Previewer Uploader: Can upload and preview files and folders in the collaborative folder.
  • Viewer: Can download, preview, and share files and folders in the collaborative folder.
  • Previewer: Can preview files and folders in the collaborative folder.
  • Uploader: Can upload files and folders to the collaborative folder.

Box uses waterfall permissions, i.e., permissions that flow downhill and can only expand at lower levels, meaning that collaborators will have the same permission level in subfolders as they do in the top folder. You can assign a given collaborator to a role with more permissions in folders deeper in your folder hierarchy. To do so, first invite the collaborator to the subfolder at the higher permission level. Then invite the collaborator higher in the folder structure at the more restrictive permission level. This will allow your collaborator to have different permissions at different levels of the folder structure.

For example, suppose a department head has a folder structure like this:

  • Department A
    • Team 1
    • Team 2
    • Team 3

The department head wants the leader of each team to be able to view documents pertaining to other teams (in the other subfolders) and documents pertaining to the department as a whole (in the top-level folder), but not to be able to change them. However, each team leader needs to be able to upload, edit, and delete files in the folder for his or her own team.

The department head first adds the leader of Team 1 to the Team 1 folder as an editor, and then adds that person as a viewer to the Department A folder, which also grants viewer permissions in the Team 2 and Team 3 subfolders.

Folder properties

You may wish to set some of the following options for a collaborative folder. To do so, click ... to the right of the folder, go to Properties, and select Folder Settings. Check or uncheck boxes as desired, and then, in the upper right, click Save Changes.

  • Invitation Restrictions:
    • Only Owners and Co-owners can send collaborator invites
    • Restrict collaboration to within Indiana University
    • Hide collaborators (Owners and co-owners will still be able to view collaborators. All other collaborators will see their fellow collaborators listed as "Someone" in the collaborator list.)
    • Allow anyone who can access this folder from a shared link to join (This option allows people who have access via shared links to become collaborators, similar to self-inviting collaborators, but with fewer choices for the permission level of the collaborators joining in this fashion.)
  • Commenting:
    • Disable commenting for this folder
  • Shared Links:
    • Restrict shared links in this folder to Collaborators Only (Once you check this, you can choose to apply this restriction to files and folders, just folders, or just files.)
  • Notifications:
    • Disable all email notifications for all collaborators in this folder and all subfolders

More resources

For more on collaborating with Box, see:

This is document bbvd in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2016-06-09 00:00:00.

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