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Sharing files without login, preview files in Trello

I have been using Trello for some time now, but a recent update makes this tool less usable than just a month ago. 

First, sharing files via a link now requires login.  That us a huge problem for us, as we are no longer able to send a file for approval. We cannot force clients to create an account.

Second: we no longer can preview Excel files, and I just read that PDF preview will be also disabled. That seriously complicates our workflow as we need to review Excel files and PDF files on a regular basis multiple times daily.

Is this a problem for other users and if so, how did you solve it?  I am considering migrating to another app that could accommodate my needs similar to Trello a month ago.  Did you find such tool if the above "upgrades" make Trello less useful. 

Any advice appreciated. 

3 answers

0 votes
Adam Cao Rising Star Aug 24, 2021

👋 Hi @Martin Purmensky @mia @Brittany Joiner

I just updated the External Share Power-Up to support sharing individual attachments.

Screen Recording 2021-08-25 at 12.03.42 AM.gif

Here's the example share link from the above demo:

I hope it helps! Let me know if you have any other requests or questions! ❤️

Adam Cao Rising Star Aug 24, 2021

🎉 Kudos to @Daniel Eads for reaching out to me and letting me know about this thread!

@Adam Cao - appreciate you trying to help with this but given the access that External Share gets by enabling that power up is not a possibility - that would never be approved by any of our clients' security teams. What every studio in Hollywood has approved in terms of security is the way we were able to share links in Trello until last week.


@Daniel Eads @Brittany Joiner @Martin Purmensky 


Screen Shot 2021-08-25 at 10.47.27 AM.png

Like Entrepositive likes this
Adam Cao Rising Star Aug 25, 2021

Unfortunately, that's not something I can control since the Trello OAuth API has very limited support for scoping. @Michael Pryor and @bentley any chance you guys could push for better API scoping?

If you aren't allowed to enable Power-Ups then unfortunately I don't have an answer that will satisfy the conditions you've laid out.

Trello just used AWS as the cloud provider and created an obfuscated url. I suspect there are other apps/sites that may do this or you can do it with AWS directly.  

Unfortunately for confidentiality, and security reasons, we are not going back to using obfuscated urls that don't go through Trello authentication.  If you upload files to Trello's servers, then you need to have a Trello account with permissions enabled.  

From reading the complains it looks like the sharing feature was used by many for approval reasons. I cannot force each client to make an account. Downloading each file and uploading it elsewhere makes it time consuming and forces us to upload an identical files to several locations - in a way degrading the security that was supposed to be updated in the first place. 

Ideally there feature would be still enabled per user basis. I understand that some users may require Trello authentication for ALL content, but many do not. 

Like Mia Fletcher likes this
milynnus Rising Star Aug 25, 2021

@Mia Fletcher @Martin Purmensky 

When this change had been apparent to me, I set out to find a solution with a server side implementation such that your api and token is not exposed to the client.

Clients can be given their own user id and password. The end point supports basic authentication. 

A custom power up (kind of your own power up) was later added to exclude files so that the client can download. Only files with /download/ in the URL will be evaluated. Not sure whether this would address the concern highlighted by you. 

My personal challenge is storage. 

I'm a bit late to the game here, and solving a similar issue on our end here.

@Mia Fletcheris it possible to have your files securely shared from a cloud tool like Drive or Dropbox? We're working on solution using a third-party automation tool called Integromat that pulls {cardattachment} and saves it to the cloud. Then we can share the cloud link.

Would a solution like that work for you?


0 votes
Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Aug 17, 2021

Hey @Martin Purmensky , in addition to @Brittany Joiner 's suggestion of making the board Public, I'd like to add a bit more context around why this suddenly changed on you.

From the help article about attachments :

For boards created prior to July 2021, the URLs for the attachments are cryptographically unguessable, meaning that no one is going to be able to guess your attachment URL. However, if you share the URL for a Trello attachment, anyone with the URL will be able to see the attachment.

Beginning in July 2021, attachments uploaded to newly created Trello boards will check for user authorization in order to display the file. This means you won't be able to share an attachment link to another person who doesn't also have access to the board in Trello where that attachment was uploaded. If you try to load a Trello attachment when not logged in, you'll be prompted to first log in before being able to view the attachment.

Attachments and previews on public boards will remain fully accessible without an account. Deleting the attachment in Trello permanently removes the file from Amazon S3. Deleting a card will also delete any files attached to that card.

I hope that helps clarify the change!

Daniel | Atlassian Support

I can see the usability here.  Still, I assume for many of us to be able to share a file without letting somebody accessing the entire board was a good thing.  If there would be an add-on for this function to continue, or some kind of modification in setup, that would be great and would accommodate both - the needs for sharing and, with some users disabling it, the needs for extra privacy. 

Together with the disabled previews of other files (Excel) that is a big problem for us that makes us look for alternatives. 

Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Aug 17, 2021

Hi Martin,

You've mentioned you have Dropbox - potentially the Dropbox power-up might help publicly share files from your private board without severely impacting your workflow. With a couple additional clicks, you can upload attachments to Dropbox from Trello cards. This is a bonus powerup, so it does not count against the power-up limit for Free / Gold boards.

Hi Daniel,
That would work, but I work with Chinese suppliers that have no access to the typical cloud storage services like Dropbox. Actually, many of my suppliers adopted Trello for project management with other clients.  For my set of circumstances the upgrade is a downgrade that will be difficult to solve. 

Like Susan Bradley likes this
Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Aug 18, 2021

Understandable - thanks for that additional context. I've shared this with out product teams.

While it's not an exact match for your need, the External Share power-up lets you generate unique URLs to share a private board, or even parts of a private board using filters for cards with particular labels or in specific lists. People can then use the links to view those cards without being members of your board. If you don't have pricing information on the specific card that the attachments are on, this might be a great option.

I also mention this since the developer of the External Share power-up does do custom solutions. If you found that External Share seems to be close, but not quite what you need, you could contact them to discuss.

Thanks for the suggestion.  I tried it, but if I would get an access to my client to a board or a card, then they would see my entire communication with my supplier, purchase price, shipping charges, etc.  If External Share would allow sharing only a file, that would work, but I cannot share an entire card or a board. 
My supplier upload a proof and only the proof should be accessible to my client. Not the entire history or the entire card. 

Brittany Joiner Community Leader Aug 18, 2021

@Martin Purmensky have you thought about hosting the pdf's/proofs on something besides trello and then linking to that attachment in the card? For example, if you hosted the pdfs on google drive, you could control view permissions there and have that link to send to your clients where they could see them, and you could attach that same link to the trello card so it's still there.

@Brittany Joiner thank you for the suggestion.  As I mentioned to Daniel, my project management needs involve companies in China (several of which are using Trello thanks to my introduction) that have no access to our typical services like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.  Furthermore, they are the ones (Chinese suppliers) that uploaded a proof and I simply sent the link to my clients in the US.  I did not have to do anything beyond copying the link. I cannot ask my suppliers to upload a PDF or MP4 to Google Drive as the access to that is rather complicated even with VPN (slow). There was no problem with Trello as, I expect, it is not blocked/slowed down by the government. 
So basically, we are all looking for a service that is Trello like and works like Trello 2 months ago. 

Brittany Joiner Community Leader Aug 20, 2021

@Martin Purmensky got it. Sorry this doesn't help. I also personally enjoyed being able to share attachment links from time to time, but 100% understand why they got rid of that and think it makes sense for most use cases and from a security standpoint. I think it would be difficult to find a really great project management tool that's also a really great/customizable hosting service too, but I could be wrong!

@Brittany Joiner @Daniel Eads 

Like @Martin Purmensky this has become a huge issue for our team as well and will be an issue for a number of agencies who have migrated to Trello and used it for years to track the creation and approval of assets. I have been using and paying for Trello for my team for years now for this sole purpose - to easily manage sharing files with our clients for reviews and approvals via Trello links in an email.

This change now puts an even bigger strain on my team and other delivery platforms/storage as I now have to right click an asset once it's approved internally to go to the client for review, then save it locally to my hard drive or external drive, then upload it to a file sharing site like Box, then create a link from there to send out the file.

So now, especially with working with extremely confidential assets, that confidential asset has to live on multiple sites/harddrives just to go out for review. We cannot make our boards public as we're dealing with materials in many cases that are in progress assets and not ready or approved for the public to see.

Having worked at several agencies, this was one of the greatest if not most valued reasons for using Trello and was approved by all of our client's security teams given the nature of the URL string and who had access to boards, etc.

Not having this function for the last few days has seriously affected the way we have worked with Trello for years. If that ability could be reinstated, I'd continue to sing the praises and merits of using Trello but without it, I can't say that we can stay clients of Trello and may have to look for alternative project management software solutions that let us do the same.

Like Martin Purmensky likes this

A few months back I was complaining about the issue of not being able to share uploaded attachments with Trello-unregistered users. At the time I was told that 

"Unfortunately for confidentiality, and security reasons, we are not going back to using obfuscated urls that don't go through Trello authentication.  If you upload files to Trello's servers, then you need to have a Trello account with permissions enabled. "

External Share was suggested, but at the time it was sharing the entire board or a card, not only one file. Turns out, now the option of sharing file is available, but only once you pay for it (together with chat and other functions).  The fee is only $1 per month, but it is still on top of Trello subscription fee.  I have no knowledge of organizational structure of Atlassian and the people that run "Tiny Power-Ups", but I assume this feature that disappeared after the summer update for "confidentiality and security reasons" is now back available for a fee.  If "security and confidentiality" would be such an important issue, why would Trello allow this power-up to be functional? I am happy to pay the extra $1 per month as it will make my life  easier, and I am very happy it is again available.  Still...

Now, I need to preview Excel files as I was able to do within Trello, not downloading them, like I have to now.  Is there a subscription for that? 

Adam Cao Rising Star Dec 10, 2021
Hey, Martin! I'm the creator of the External Share and Tiny Power-Ups. I can say for sure that I don't work for Atlassian or Trello. I'm probably not good enough of an engineer for them.

The External Share Power-Up was created before Trello made the change to prevent you from sharing file attachment URLs directly. If Trello wanted to make it a paid feature then they would have implemented some kind of permissions layer on top of their attachments model and put the feature behind their Standard or Premium offerings.

Think about your files in Google Drive or Dropbox, by default they aren't publically available unless you make it so. It's the same as a Trello board not defaulting to "public" when you create it. The External Share Power-Up was created so that you don't need to share your board and files to the entire Internet but still want some folks to access your content through a secret link that you create. Google Drive and Dropbox have similar features where "only people with this link" can see the file.

As for the Excel preview, I might be able to whip something up for you in a few weeks when I get time off work for the holidays. If I do get around to it, the Power-Up will be offered as a part of the Tiny Power-Up subscription you already have!  I'll keep you posted.

Thank you for being a customer! I'm really glad that we're able to help make your life a bit easier.

@Martin Purmensky 

Now, I need to preview Excel files as I was able to do within Trello, not downloading them, like I have to now. Is there a subscription for that?

I just released the Office File Viewer Power-Up which lets you preview .xlsx, .docx, and .pptx files directly in Trello.

It is a part of our Tiny Power-Ups suite so $1/month will get both External Share and Office File Viewer as well as all of our existing Power-Ups (and future ones).

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions. 

Happy new year!

Like milynnus likes this

@Daniel Eadsthe help article you shared is unfortunately not accurate, not on our end anyway.

Our boards pre-date July 2021, yet newly-added attachments are behind a login gate. I didn't bother to check attachments added before then because those are irrelevant now. It's definitely annoying, especially that the grandfather promise wasn't kept. This is not the first withheld grandfather promise we experienced in the recent Trello changes.


0 votes
Brittany Joiner Community Leader Aug 17, 2021

@Martin Purmensky could you make your boards public? You don't have to login to view attachment links if they're hosted on a public board (which I assume is the reason behind making them public vs private - in a private board, truly everything should be private).

I cannot make my board private, because it contains estimates and pricing details. 

But, in the past a link like this

was complicated enough to send out without fear that somebody would guess it.  My print shop uploaded the proof file and we simply send it to the client - no login required.  That has changed and now we will have to download it and put it on Dropbox and send the link.  That is a big step back for us. 

The decision to also disable preview of various files is another headache for us. Mainly we can't preview Excel files and apparently soon we will not be able to preview PDF. 

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