Provide anonymous access to sharepoint lists on Office 365 (Sharepoint online)

06 Sep

Office 365 introduction

Office 365 basically provides you with collaboration services consisting of the following components:

  • E-mail (Exchange online)
  • Instant messaging (Lync online)
  • Internal and external websites (Sharepoint online)
  • Office (either locally installed or through web apps).

I really like this service offering because of the following reasons:

  • All services (and servers) are hosted by Microsoft. This means you don’t have to invest in servers, software. You also don’t have to do the initial setup nor do you have to maintain the servers, operating system and software. This all helps you to be able to focus on your core business.
  • You pay monthly fees, which are predictable.
  • Since you are using a cloud based service, the functionality is continuously being improved and newer versions are being provided at no additional cost. Currently Office 2013 Preview is available for testing only on Office 365, but when it is released it will probably also find its way to the current Office 365 users.

But don’t take my word for it, just try it for yourself and see if and how you can benefit from it.

Configuring anonymous access to sharepoint lists on Office 365 (Sharepoint online) 

Even though I like Office 365, it is far from perfect. For example, one of the reasons for me to get and Office 365 subscription was because (I thought) it would let me easily share website links, applications, scripts using sharepoints lists to the internet.

In reality however, the public facing sharepoint site was very limited and did not provide an easy way to do this. Another option was to create these lists on my “internal” sharepoint site and then provide access to people by inviting them by e-mail. This would however limit my audience / knowledge sharing potential.

After searching for people with similar issues, I came across a workaround that would help me accomplish my goals:

Steps to configure a sharepoint list on my public facing sharepoint site that is accessible for anonymous users:

  1. Download the anonymous365 sharepoint solution from
  2. Go to the “Site Settings” of your public facing site using by example :
  3. Go to the “Galleries” section and go to “Solutions“.
  4. Click under the “Name” colume and in the ribbon interface under the “Solutions” tab choose “Upload Solution“.
  5. Browse to the previously downloaded anonymous365 sharepoint solution : “Wsp365.Anonymous.wsp” and press “OK“.
  6. Check the checkbox of the uploaded “Wsp365.Anonymous.wsp” and in the ribbon interface under the “Solutions” tab choose “Activate“.
  7. The go to the “All Site Content” of your public facing site using by example:
  8. Press “Create
  9. Choose the list type you want, enter a name and press “Create“.
  10. Then in the ribbon interface under “List Tools” and “List” press the button “Anonymous Access
  11. Choose what access you want to give anonymous users for this specific list and press “OK”.

PS: You can also use a list to share files using the attachments.

Closing thoughts

I hope this explanation was helpful and I love to get feedback. Because the groundwork is done now, I can focus on the actual knowledge sharing by populating the lists with content. So you can expect some major updates soon on both my blog posts and the lists below:


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29 responses to “Provide anonymous access to sharepoint lists on Office 365 (Sharepoint online)

  1. Mark Freemantle

    November 15, 2012 at 18:01

    Well detailed and explained. It should work. Not sure why it didn’t for me. When I click on the Anonymous Access button I get the error msg “Web does not allow anonymous access.” then it shows me the List Security options that I’d like to be able to check; they don’t work.
    Any suggestions? On on O365-P1 if that matters


    • Bjorn Houben

      November 16, 2012 at 20:07

      Are you trying to add anonymous access to a list on your PUBLIC facing website ? If not, this is probably why it’s not working.


  2. AnitaT

    November 16, 2012 at 06:54

    Fantastic article as I too have been learning of the restrictions on the current SharePoint Online 2010 and how it impacts with public facing sites.

    I look forward to any tips regarding managing customisation/branding for the public facing sites and the template limitations. I see references that suggest there are ways to edit the master pages away from the inbuilt designer ???


  3. AnitaT

    November 19, 2012 at 01:15

    Bjorn, do you know if there is any ability of public users to complete online forms anonymously ? I would see this as the next step with lists, allowing anonymous contribution (but not editing). It does seem like you need to upload infopath form templates to use forms on the public website.

    I am still trying to get my head around the SPO licencing and whether any security can be applied to a public website (restricted to login) without paying additional user licences to a Office 365 plan. Does the free 50 external user allowance only count towards the Team Sites for example?

    So much finer detail is lacking on the MS community and documentation 😦


  4. Mark Freemantle

    November 20, 2012 at 22:15

    Well, I had some problems with configuring the right side of my O365SP site, but finally got it to work. This is going to be very helpful with my collaboration project. thanks for sharing (isn’t that the point?) 😉


  5. Denis

    February 5, 2013 at 12:17

    Hi Biorn,
    This is a great post – sad, that I found it so late 🙂 While it is working great for my blog I am facing a problem with the search. To display the search results I am prompted for a login. Do you know of a solution here?


    • Bjorn Houben

      February 5, 2013 at 12:47

      Unfortunately this is not working indeed. I’m hoping the new Office 365 will provide better options.


  6. Denis

    February 5, 2013 at 14:24

    Nevermind – I just found out, how to do it.
    – Use this to create a search site:
    – Go to the top-site search settings (append “_layouts/enhancedSearch.aspx”)
    – Change the destination page for search results to your address. In my case it is “/Blog/Search/results.aspx”

    That does the Trick!


    • Bjorn Houben

      February 5, 2013 at 16:10

      Thanks for the info, I will be sure to try it myself as well because this is the only thing that I was missing up until now.


  7. Aladdin

    May 12, 2013 at 01:38

    I have installed Wsp365.Anonymous.wsp and I have created a list. When I want to give anonymous access I am getting the following error:
    Web Part Error: The site collection containing this sandboxed solution has exceeded its daily resource usage quota. Correlation ID: 29851a9c-ac2d-f017-9e00-232173891b84.
    I have office 365 P1 plan.


  8. Angie

    May 23, 2013 at 16:54

    i have managed to resolve the error faced by Aladdin but another error pops up:

    Web Part Error: Sandboxed code execution request failed. Correlation ID: 0c441e9c-b014-f0ac-1176-73796885b102.

    Any advise?


    • meir

      August 26, 2013 at 07:59

      did you get any help with that error? i have the same error.


      • Ahmed

        November 1, 2013 at 17:31

        I have the same error, Sandboxed code execution request failed. Have anyone found the resolution?


        • Ahmed

          November 1, 2013 at 18:39

          I just published the site, it was not yet public to internet, and after doing it. I was able to use the anonymous setting


          • Bjorn Houben

            November 1, 2013 at 18:41

            Thanks for sharing the solution


    • rav

      January 21, 2014 at 01:49

      Hi Angie

      How did you resolve the error faced by Aladdin.


  9. katika555

    January 18, 2014 at 16:55

    Bjorn, thanks for great post,

    I have one error: you write that “PS: You can also use a list to share files using the attachments.:
    but after filling form fields, and attach document the form prompt for credential, redirect to page, please see my public site form:
    thanks in advance,


  10. John Wiese

    June 16, 2014 at 19:11

    This looks very promising, but I wonder if something changed. I can add the solution to my private O365 SharePoint site but can’t seem to get it added to my public facing site, there is no “solutions” section and I don’t have a “Galleries” section, just a “Web Design Galleries”. Has anyone gotten this to work on a public facing O365 SharePoint site recently? If so, how?


  11. lupus

    November 1, 2014 at 13:21

    Anyone solved this Problem? “Web Part Error: Sandboxed code execution request failed. Correlation ID: 0c441e9c-b014-f0ac-1176-73796885b102. “



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