Prevent Document Download in SharePoint Online

Good day colleagues, wanted to share with you all how to configure a document library that doesn’t allow users to download his content. In our scenario here is to expose a document library to a group of people inside the company, but the requirement was that these people shouldn’t be able to download the content, this is just a document library for content consumption, no collaboration at all and of course read only for visitors.

It is simple to achieve the desired outcome because there is a permission already in the system that allows us exactly what we need, but it has some limitations that you should know first before you commit to deliver what business ask us to do.

As general understanding please read the following descriptions about the permissions already available in SharePoint, please read to the end because you will see what permissions makes sense for us to use.

  • Full Control – Has full control.
  • Design – Can view, add, update, delete, approve, and customize.
  • Edit – Can add, edit and delete lists; can view, add, update and delete list items and documents.
  • Contribute – Can view, add, update, and delete list items and documents.
  • Read – Can view pages and list items and download documents.
  • View Only – Can view pages, list items, and documents. Document types with server-side file handlers can be viewed in the browser but not downloaded.

Yes, the View Only permission gives us the required behavior. In other words, this permission allows us to visualize documents inside a browser (of course with the help of Office Web Apps or Office Online Server) and documents cannot be downloaded. The question here is: What are the documents we can visualize in the browser using Office Online Server? The answer is Only Office Documents and what Office Documents are we talking about? Word, PowerPoint, Excel.

This means that:

PDF or any other file type that is not an office document can be downloaded ☹

Let’s explore how to configure this:

  1. Create a security group that has the View Only permission
  2. Create and configure a document library
  3. Test with another user that the download is not possible

Let’s see it in action here in this video, since now, thanks for reading, thanks for watching, thanks for sharing.

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