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 enterprise 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?

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Using shared links

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. 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, click the arrow to the right of the file or folder, select Share, and then select Remove Link from the Access drop-down list. Your file or folder is now available only to you and any collaborators you have invited via the process described below.

To access the other settings listed here, click the gear icon to the immediate right of the link.

  • Access levels:
    • Open: Allows anyone who has the link to access the file or folder
    • Your Company: Allows anyone who has the link and is within the IU domain to access the file or folder
    • Collaborators Only: Allows access only to invited collaborators
  • Set custom URL: Available on all access levels, a custom URL allows you to name a link so it is quickly identifiable. Click Set Custom URL, and enter your desired URL; for example, to make a resume available to potential employers, you could make the URL "". Then click Save.
    Custom links must be unique in the entire IU Box space.
  • Password protection: When using the "Open" access level, you can set a password to have a higher level of security. Click Set Password, type a password of your choice, and click Save. Others will be prompted for the password before being able to see the file or folder.
  • Restrictions: For both the "Open" and "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, click Set Restrictions, and then check Turn download off.

  • Expiration: For all access options, by clicking Set Expiration, you can set a date when the file or folder will no longer be accessible ("Unshare On"), and a date on which the file or folder will automatically be deleted ("Delete On"). To set one of these dates, click the calendar icon in the appropriate field and select a date from the pop-up calendar.

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 the down arrow to the right of the folder and select Invite Collaborators.
    • From within the folder you wish to invite people to, click Invite People in the right column.
  2. In the pop-up, enter the 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, even an Imail or Umail 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 Permissions drop-down list, 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.

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 generate a self-inviting collaboration link:

  1. Click the down arrow to the right of the folder and select Invite Collaborators.
  2. In the resulting screen, click Get Invite Link near the top.
  3. Check Enable invitation links, select the proper collaboration permission level, and then copy the link. (You'll need to generate different links for different permission levels for the same folder.)
  4. After clicking Okay, send the link to your collaborators.

Assigning tasks

To assign tasks to Box collaborators, when previewing a file, click Assign Task to the right of the preview, and enter the task instructions. To change the task type, click To Review, and select from the drop-down list. Enter the name or email address of the appropriate collaborator(s), and click Due Date if you wish to assign one. Click Add, 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 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.

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:

  • Email notifications: To adjust notifications collaborators will receive, click the down arrow to the right of the folder, go to Properties, and then click Email Options.
  • Security: To access the following security properties, click the down arrow to the right of the folder, go to Properties, and then select Security. Check the box for each property you want to enable.
    • 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.)
      • Disable commenting for this folder
    • Membership:
      • Allow anyone who can access this folder from a shared link to join (Once you check this, you'll be prompted to set the permission level of the collaborators joining in this fashion. For more, see Using shared links above.)
    • Shared Links:
      • Restrict shared links to collaborators only (Once you check this, you can choose to apply this restriction to files and folders, just folders, or just files.)

More resources

For more on collaborating with Box, see:

This is document bbvd in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2015-09-21.

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