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.

Box application updates

In its December Product Newsletter Box highlighted a number of updates that have been released recently.

The first is their Box Notes app.  As you can see in the following image they made several changes.

  1. They now have an “Inbox” that will show you notes that have been updated.  Updated notes will appear at the top of your list of notes will be bolded with a blue dot indicator.
  2. There is now a presence indicator at the top of the note page indicating who is currently in your note or who has recently accessed it, whether it was just for a quick review or to add content to your note.
  3. If someone made an update to your note it will highlight that update in purple the first time that you access that note.
Box Note changes

In Box Drive update 1.3 they changed the drag and drop experience for Windows users.  Previously dragging and dropping a file into your Box folder would move the file into Box from its original location.  Now, it copies the file rather than moves it. This is the same behavior that Mac users see when they drag and drop a file into a Box folder.

They updated the login process to optimize the flow for better support for SSO users.  Previously, a users would have to select the “Sign In with SSO” link that appeared under email address and password fields.  Now, they just enter their email address and they will be taken to their organizations SSO login page rather than being asked for a Box password.

Last but not least, Box has introduced a new navigation design for their Box for Android app.  This makes it easier to access your most critical content.  They also make it possible to monitor your file upload and download progress in the tool bar.

Box for Android screenshot
Box for Android.

While it is still in beta, Box is doing some exciting work with machine learning as applied to image recognition.  Behind the scenes they are leveraging Google Cloud Vision’s state-of-the-art machine learning models.   Some of the the planned features for this technology is:

  • Automatic identification of objects in images
  • Text detection of hand-written and typed text (OCR)
  • Indexing of metadata for improved search and discovery of images and faster image-centric workflows

For more news on this including lot of Box helps and knowledge base articles, check out the Box Community pages.

Box Notes – Box’s native collaboration tool

I guess the title says it all.  Box Notes is a light weight, real-time collaborative note taking and editing application native to Box.   Besides basic font settings you can create ordered, unordered, and check lists, set justification, insert images and create basic tables.  Box notes are great for meeting agendas, brain storming sessions, as a project management tool, and to-do lists.  To see examples of this watch this video.

Box Notes can be worked on or viewed collaboratively in real-time.  You can see who is working or viewing the note and changes made are immediately seen by all parties.

Collaborating on Box Note

Box Notes were only accessible through the Box web UI until earlier this year when Box released Box Notes for desktops for both the Windows and Mac OS.  Now you don’t have to open Box in a browser to create and interact with your Box Notes.  With Box Notes for desktops you can create and edit your notes directly.  The desktop application makes finding and accessesing your note easy by showing you your recently opend and favorited Box notes.  If you don’t see a note in the list you can easily search Box for all your Box notes using the search tool.

Box Note Sidebar

So check out Box Notes.  To install visit the Box notes download page here or go to the Apps menu item in your Box profile, search for “Box Notes Desktop” and click on the “Add +” button once you find it.   If you use Box Drive you can you can open a Box Note simply by clicking on the note.

Need more information?  Take a look at Box Notes: Overview and FAQs.


Box Drive at OSU

Box Drive is the latest in Box’s client tools.  It was released in June of this year in a public beta.  Box drive supports both Windows and Mac OS’.   Since its initial release as Box for Desktop, users at OSU have been putting the application through its paces and have been quite satisfied with how it works. I would like to encourage you to try it out if you haven’t already done so.

One thing to note is that this is a beta product which is still being actively developed by Box so the full set of features are not currently available.  One key feature that has yet to be released is a sync function that will allow users to control syncing from the desktop client rather than having to open the web UI.

If you use Box and you don’t need to sync files to your desktop or you have limited space this is likely the tool you’ve been looking for.   For users it makes your Box account appear as if it is part of your local file system as shown in the following images.

Box Drive on OSX
Box Drive on Windows

To work with your files you don’t have to open the Box web UI.  You simply browse Box using file explorer in Windows or Finder in MaxOS.  Box drive also has a built-in search feature so you can search your Box account for files and folders.  Once you find what you want you simply click on the file and start working with it.

While Box Drive makes working with Box content easier there are some things you may need to do that will require opening the web UI.  Such things as creating or updating a folder collaboration, opening an Office or Google doc in an online collaborative space, creating a unique shared link name or expiring a shared link, and restoring a file from the trash just to name a few.

If you would like to know more about Box Drive or would like to start using it, here are some handy links to get you started.

House Keeping Tips

You finally jumped in a moved all those files off your local hard drive, file share, G Drive or wherever into Box.  You carefully planned this move and you have it all neatly arranged in folders and sub-folders with descriptive names so you know at a glance what is where.  But then you have the miscellaneous or work folder.  In it you have stuff that doesn’t fit in the other folders, it is short term work, or there are copies of files that you have shared because you didn’t want to share it out of the original location.  It is a pain to keep up and you don’t really have time to keep going back once a week or once a month or once a year to clean it out and figure what to keep.  So, what to do?   Enter Box’s expiration settings!

While I focused on a particular folder what follows can be applied to any file or folder anywhere in your folder structure.

Folders: You can set entire folders to auto delete and if it is shared via a shared link you can auto expire the link.  To access these settings, click on the box with the three dots to the right of the folder name,

Access Folder Settings

In the drop-down menu click on Settings and then scroll down to Auto Actions.

Folder Auto Actions

Here you have two check boxes, one to allow you to set the deletion date of the folder and the other to unshare the folder on a selected date.  To unshare a folder it must be shared with a shared link.  This will not affect collaborations.  Once you select a date to delete and save your changes you will see a scissors icon added to your folder and in the folder details there will be a notification of when that folder will be deleted

AutoDelete Icon
Auto deletion icon
Details auto delete date
Folder details

You will also get a notification in your messages as the date gets near.  If you decide later to either not delete the folder or change the date you can do that at any time before the set date.  Besides setting auto unsharing in the folder settings you can also set the date by clicking the gear icon on the shared link dialog and checking the “Disable shared link on …” checkbox.  This is the dialog that popped up when you created the shared link.  Setting the auto unsharing of a shared link will not add an icon to the folder name but you will see in the folder details the date set to delete the shared link.

Files:  Files have similar settings for auto-delete or expiration, and auto unshare for links.  To access the auto-delete settings you go to the three dots to the right of the file name in the drop-down menu scroll down to “… More Actions” and then select Set Expiration.  Choose a date and save.  A scissors icon will appear to the right of the file name and the file details will show the set deletion date.

Set file expiration

To access deletion of shared links check box, click on the gear icon above the shared link URL on the shared link dialog box.  This is the dialog that pops up when you first setup the shared link.

This will take you to the next page of the dialog where you can set the link expiration date.

As in the previous image you will get a little clock on the shared link dialog that shows the date when you mouse over it along with a notice in the details that your link has a date set.

Now you don’t have to visit or fiddle with those files or folders.  They will unshare and/or be deleted on the date set.

Want to improve your Box skills?

You logged into Box created a folder or file or uploaded some data and now you want to learn more.  You want to improve your skills and  be more productive with Box.  Problem is, you just don’t know where to go for that information.  Well here are a few links to help figure out where to go.

One of the first places you could start is the OSU Box site and specifically our Getting Started with Box and FAQ pages.  On the Getting Started page you will also find links to the local information sessions we conducted at OSU during our Box launch phase.   This blog is also a good source of information as we will try and publish new and relevant information for OSU Box users.

Traveling a bit farther afield you will want to head over to Box’s Community and Training sites.   On the community pages you can get information about how various elements within Box’s web UI work, read what issues other users are experiencing and what they did to fix or work around those issues.  One thing that Box is introducing is an Ask the Expert event tomorrow March 31st from 9am to 2pm PST.  You have to sign in to the Training forum to participate.

Speaking of Box training, Box maintains a large collection of training material.  Besides the forum you will also find a video tutorial library with 19 videos that you can watch on-line or download to watch later.  If you want to go deeper you can go to the Box University which has a number of free courses, both self-paced as well as live, that will take you through additional elements of Box.  When accessing Box University you can login with your OSU account.  To do that click on the “Login with Box” button, then select “Use Single Sign-on (SSO)”, enter your ONID email address (, and then your username and password.  Once you’re logged in browse the various courses available to you.

Box also maintains a YouTube channel that has a number of informative videos on how to use the various features in Box as well as videos showing how others are using Box in their organizations.

If you can’t find what you need or want help doing something in Box feel free to reach out to the IS Service desk for help.

Box Feature Changes

Box support on Internet Explorer (IE) Browser Versions 9 and 10

Box ended browser support of IE versions 9 and 10 and they do not support compatibility mode for any of the unsupported browsers.  It is Box policy to support only the two latest browser versions and with Microsoft pulling support for IE 9 and 10 as of 1/12/2016 on the Windows operating systems that Box supports – Windows 7, Windows 8 (64-bit only) and Windows 10, Box will no longer support these older versions.

Users who try to access Box, including Box Notes, on either of these unsupported browsers (including on the associated compatibility modes for these browsers and/or if IE11 is manually set to run as IE9 or IE10) will be blocked entirely from Box until they have upgraded to a supported browser. This will happen in early May 2017

Total Previews and Downloads in End User File Access Stats

In summer 2017, Box will launch the ability for end-users to export up to seven years of file-level access stats.  When exporting seven years of file-level access stats launches, Box will simultaneously change the visible total file preview and download calculations to only include the last 100 events in the last year.  Find out more about file access stats.

Folder Invitation Links

Folder Invitation links (see screenshot below) which can be found under folder settings will stop being supported in early May 2017. At that time, the folder invitation link will disappear from the folder settings page and existing folder invitation links will stop working.

Folder Inivtation link setting

Users will be able to achieve similar functionality with shared links. Shared links can be used as invitation links by enabling the setting “Allow anyone who can access this folder from a shared link to join as a collaborator” on the folder settings page (see screenshot below). Users that have shared folder invitation links outside of OSU’s Box, they should replace them with shared links with this setting enabled before early May 2017.

Folder Restrictions

New Box User Interface (UI)

The Box team released a new and improved, more personalized user experience on the web that includes a completely re-built back end foundation. With this new experience, you can work with ease.  Starting March 30th, all OSU Box accounts will be changed to the new Box UI. After that, you will no longer be able to revert to the old interface.

For a high-level overview of the features of the new Box interface, watch New Box Experience , a short video from Box Training. Some noteworthy features of the new UI include:

  • The new interface has increased speed for uploading, accessing, and editing content.
  • You can set the collection of items you mark as “Favorites” to be your Box home page.
  • You can sort all files by name, date, or size from directly within the file list headings.
  • By clicking the icon of a file or folder once, you can see details about the item, including collaborators, its shared link, metadata, and so on. By clicking the name of a folder, or double-clicking its icon, you will open the folder. Upon clicking the name of a file within the folder, you will preview the file and also see the version, description, and access statistics.
  • Copy (Ctrl-c) and paste (Ctrl-v) are supported within the new interface. You can copy multiple files from one Box folder to another using keyboard functions. You can also copy items from your computer and paste them into a Box folder.
  • The search features of the new interface are more specific. You can search and filter your documents by type, size, time, owner, and metadata directly from the search bar. For instance, if you type the name of any of your documents and filter the search by file type (e.g., a Word document) and the Date Updated (e.g., ‘this past week’), all of your Microsoft Word documents you have edited or opened within the past week will be returned.
  • Find content faster: Our improved, advanced search is faster and more helpful- you don’t even need to type anything to search for your work. With a few clicks, find what you’re looking for by selecting owners, last date edited and file type.
  • View content the way you want: We’ve made it easy to switch between views – either use list view for quick scans or thumbnail view for rich previews, so you can see files in the way that works best for you. Now you can also watch HD and 360 videos right from Box without downloading, making it easy to experience and share immersive media just like any other file.

Enabling and disabling the new Box user interface

Enabling the new UI
To enable the new Box user interface, do one of the following:

These actions set a cookie in your browser. If you want to see the new UI in a different browser or on a different machine, you’ll need to take one of these steps in the new browser.

Disabling the new UI
After you’ve enabled the new user interface, to revert to the old one, do one of the following:

  • Visit
  • At the top right of the Box home page, click the ? icon. To disable the new UI, below the text box for feedback and next to “Need to switch back to the old Box Experience?”, click Click here.