Collaboration with Box

Box is a collaboration tool.  The problem is that many users tend to think of it and use it as if it just another place to store your stuff.  So, they put stuff in their Box folder and there is sits.  Gathering dust.  If they need to share a file they attach it to an email and send it to one or more recipients.  If it requires editing someone edits it and sends it around.  Soon there are multiple versions and different edits.  So how do you get around all that using Box?

Collaboration options.  There are several options open to the Box user to short circuit the scenario above.

Files:  If you need to send someone a file and they are not at OSU and don’t have a Box account of any kind, you can send them a shared link.  In fact, if you have Box for Office installed you can do this without ever leaving Outlook.   Shared links can also be used with users at OSU if you’re not planning on collaborating on the file.  A shared link will allow the recipient to view and/or download the file depending on the permissions you set.  Here is a great how-to-video that goes over shared links.   One short coming of a shared link is that recipients of the link can only view or download.  They cannot edit and save the file back to its original location.

What if you need to collaborate on a file, but you don’t want to collaborate on the entire contents of the folder that file is in?  Previously, you had to create a new folder, move that file to the folder and invite a user as a collaborator to the new folder.  Now it is possible to collaborate on a single file.  You don’t need to move the file to a special folder, you invite a collaborator to the file and they will only see that file.  They can edit and save the file back to Box.  Note that the same restrictions apply, the collaborator must have a Box account and the permissions are limited to editor or viewer.

Folders:  Shared links can also be used with folders.  Like shared links on files the recipient of the shared link has the option of viewing and/or downloading the folder contents depending on the settings you apply.

You can invite users to collaborate on a folder or set of folders.  Unlike files you have a greater range of permissions you can assign to those you invite as a collaborator.  If you need more information, folder permissions are discussed in greater detail in our Box FAQ on this subject.


Using a mail list: If you’ve ever setup collaboration for a group of people in the WebUI you know that it can take time to put each user’s information into the invite dialog.  What if you have a mail list?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to invite them using that?  Well you can.  Here is how you do that….

  1. Go to the folder you want to invite user to collaborate in and highlight it.
  2. Go to the “More options” (box with three dots) to the right of the folder name.
  3. Click on it and scroll down to “Settings”.
  4. Under Collaboration find “Allow anyone who can access this folder from a shared link to join as a collaborator” and check the checkbox.
  5. Choose whether they can join as an editor or viewer.
  6. Click “Save Changes” in the upper left of the screen to apply the changes.
  7. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  8. Select “Share” and “Get a shared link”.
  9. Copy the link into your email and send it to your mail list.  Make sure you let them know it is coming so they don’t think this is a phishing email.

If you are on Windows with Outlook and have Box for Office installed, you can skip steps 7 and following and create the shared link from within your email.  In your email message click on the “Message” menu and select “Attach from Box” that appears in the ribbon bar.  Browse to the folder you selected in step 1, highlight it, set the Access level.  Then click “Insert”.  This will insert a link in your email.  Now send your email as normal.

Upload by email: What if you wanted to allow users to upload files but they don’t have a Box account, or you don’t want them to see the files in the folder?   Follow steps 1 through 3 above.  This time scroll down until find “Uploading”.

  1. Check the check box for “Allow uploads to this folder via email”.
  2. if you want to limit this to collaborators, check the “Only allow email uploads from collaborators in this folder”.
  3. Copy the displayed email address which will look something like this,, then send that email address to your users.

Recipients will be able to send an email with an attachment to the address.  Once received, Box will save the attachment to the folder.  Note: none of the email body or text is saved, just the attachment.   This includes images and graphic items included in a person’s email signature.

Using the Web: If you wanted to share content with anyone with an internet connection and a browser inviting them as a collaborator or sending emails isn’t going to work well.  In this case you can use an embedded widget in a web page.   Follow steps 1 and 2, but when you get to step 3 skip settings and continue on to “… More actions”.

  1. Mouse over more actions and in the pop up menu you will see “</> Embed Widget” and  possibly “Upload Embed Widget”.  You won’t see the later if you are not the folder owner or co-owner.
  2. Select one or the other and check or select the appropriate settings.   Click the following links to get more information.
    Embed Widget
    Upload Embed Widget
  3. Select “Preview” if you want to know what it will look like, otherwise copy the code provided and embed it in your web page.  An example of using an embedded widget can be found near the bottom of our Getting Started page.

Hopefully, this has helped.  If you have more questions browse over to and check out the content in Getting started or in the FAQs.  Drop us a request if you have a question or need assistance  with using Box.