Microsoft 365 Frequently Asked Questions

Microsoft 365 


Undergraduate students, staff, faculty, and graduate students can sign in to with their username ( and WatIAM password.

All University of Waterloo undergraduate students are provided a Microsoft 365 account.

Waterloo alumni will receive a Microsoft 365 email account that will provide anywhere access to a more secure, reliable, and much improved email experience.

Undergraduate and graduate students:

  • Microsoft 365 applications will be licensed for approximately 16 months after your last registered term. Your email account will work indefinitely, if you graduate from the institution (see 'What happens to my Microsoft 365 account (email and apps) after I graduate?' for more info).

  • If you do not graduate from the institution, you will retain access to your Microsoft 365 account (email and apps) for approximately 16 months after your last registered term. 

Staff and faculty:

  • Staff and faculty will have access to their Microsoft 365 accounts for the duration of their employment or enrolment.

The mailbox quotas are as follows:

  • Shared mailboxes: 50GB

  • All employees/students/A3 licensed email accounts: 100GB

  • Accounts with A1 full licenses: 50 GB

  • Accounts with A1 mail and calendar only licenses (e.g. retirees, former students): 50 GB

Undergraduate and graduate email: You will keep your Microsoft 365 email account after you graduate.

Microsoft 365 Applications: You will keep your account for approximately 16 months after your last registered term. In order to keep any files, they will need to be saved to a new location. (See also FAQ entitled "How can I transfer files from my undergraduate OneDrive account to a secondary account (personal, staff, faculty, graduate student, etc.)?"

Staff and faculty will have access to their Microsoft 365 accounts for the duration of their employment or enrolment. In order to keep any files, they will need to be saved to a new location. (See also FAQ entitled "How can I transfer files from my undergraduate OneDrive account to a secondary account (personal, staff, faculty, graduate student, etc.)?"

Apps from Microsoft 365 such as Microsoft Teams and OneDrive can be installed onto your work computer.

The use of Microsoft Office 2016 on University computers should continue to be accessed only through the IST Webstore.

No, the full Microsoft 365 suite is only available to current staff, faculty, and students. An A1 mail and calendar only license is available to retirees. See also, access to M365 apps and email by audience.

Please see the Terms of Service and Service Level Agreement from Microsoft.

Data stored in this service are subject to Microsoft data retention policies which may change from time to time. There is no capability to restore deleted data beyond the user-accessible facilities (e.g. versions and recycle bin) provided by Microsoft. Currently, Microsoft maintains a file history for 30 days.

  • Staff and student OneDrive accounts are identical in terms of storage size and access.

  • Students will use Microsoft 365 to access their UWaterloo email account and will have access to the full suite of Microsoft 365 apps.

  • Staff, faculty, and grad students will have access to the full suite of Microsoft 365 apps and email.

  • If you have both a student and a staff account, you should use your primary account to access Microsoft 365:

    • If you are a student on co-op, continue to use your student account to access Microsoft 365/OneDrive.

    • If you are a staff member taking classes, continue to use your staff account to access Microsoft 365/OneDrive.

A Microsoft 365 mailbox gives you 100GB of storage. 


Troubleshooting Microsoft 365


Search your Archive folder. The Archive button is easy to accidentally select while typing an email reply. The Archive button has been deactivated on the managed version of Microsoft 365, however pressing the backspace key while a message is selected will still move the message to the Archive folder. 

You should be prompted to authenticate. Click the top right log in button, enter your WatIAM ( credentials. If you are not affiliated with the University of Waterloo (e.g. Laurier or University of Guelph student), you can use your home institution credentials to authenticate M365 (e.g., 

Log in to your Microsoft 365 portal, go to My account > My installs > Deactivate as needed. Please note that Microsoft 365 on IST managed workstations will not count as one of your activations.

Make sure you are logged in to your computer and into M365 with the correct University of Waterloo account. Check all recent documents under File > Open in the appropriate M365 application.

Check your recycle bin and second stage recycle bin in your OneDrive online portal.

Authenticate with your personal Microsoft account or contact your IT service desk for more help.

Disable hardware graphic acceleration: File > Options > Advanced, under the Display section, make sure the 'disable hardware graphics acceleration' is selected. Note: this has already been done for IST managed workstations. 

In Skype for Business, select Settings > Personal, make sure the ‘Automatically start the app when I log on to Windows’ option is selected. In addition, open Task Manager > Startup and make sure Skype for Business is listed and enabled.

Make sure all users editing the document are using the same version of Office. There may be minor problems between users collaborating and using different versions of desktop Office suites (such as Office 2016 and Microsoft 365). Some features may not exist in an older version of Office or may be implemented in a new way. If the same desktop version cannot be used and problems occur, we recommend using Office Online (web version) available in M365.


Microsoft Apps


Microsoft Apps is the version of Office that is available through Microsoft 365 (M365). It includes applications such as Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Skype for Business, and Word. You can use these applications to connect with Microsoft 365 services such as SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Skype for Business Online.

Contact your IT support team for information on how to have Microsoft 365 installed on your computer.

IST and some faculties will be deploying Microsoft 365 ProPlus 64-bit via SCCM (on managed computers) in the near future. The managed version is tailored for Waterloo’s faculty and staff with scheduled monthly updates.

The downloadable version from will have Microsoft's default settings, and may be 32 or 64 bit. Updates will happen on Microsoft's schedule. This is only recommended for home, and unmanaged computers.

Microsoft 365 ProPlus will work as long as you are logged in with a Nexus account. If you use a generic account, you can request to either keep Microsoft 2016 or install Microsoft 2019 on the laptop. Please contact your local IT support for advice on the best approach to use Office on a shared laptop.

Some user interface changes may occur during the monthly Microsoft 365 update.

No, M365 apps can be used offline. However, you need to be connected to the Internet the first time you run any office application for the initial authentication. After that, you will need to connect to the Internet at least once every 30 days to renew the token (done automatically once connected). If M365 fails to renew the token, it will enter reduced functionality read-only state.


Troubleshooting Microsoft Apps 


Log off and/or restart your computer and log back in.

If your Microsoft applications are crashing, troubleshoot using the Software Center: click on the Windows Start menu > Software Center > select Licensed – Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus > click Repair. All of the Microsoft applications can be repaired using the Software Center. If the issue persists, please contact your local IT support for further assistance.

Note: All associated Microsoft software (i.e. Visio, Project) will be re-installed using this method. 

AutoSave in Microsoft has two meanings. When using M365 OneDrive AutoSave does a real-time save as you edit Office files, and this option is visible as the AutoSave toggle in the upper left. When saving to another location (local drive or SharePoint) Microsoft provides a timed automatic save, and the AutoSave toggle in the upper left will not be available.

Try a Microsoft Quick Repair. Open Control Panel > Programs and Features and look for Office 365 ProPlus; select the Change button. This will prompt you to select a Quick Repair. For managed workstations, if Quick Repair doesn't work, submit a request to to request assistance.

Try a Microsoft 365 ProPlus Quick Repair. Open Control Panel -> programs and features and look for Office 365 ProPlus; select the Change button. This will prompt you to select a Quick Repair. For managed workstations, if Quick Repair doesn't work submit a request to to request assistance.

Click File > OptionsAdd-in, go to COM Add-ins, and uncheck 'Microsoft Teams Meeting add-in for Microsoft office'.


Sharing and file storage


Sharing files with students is possible but please be aware of the General principles section on the Guidelines for Cloud-Based Educational Technologies document. LEARN is the preferred method to share academic work; auditing file logs are possible in LEARN but not OneDrive.  

Please see How do I share files using OneDrive?

Yes, you can real-time co-author documents with your colleagues. See the Microsoft documentation on how to share the document and invite others to edit it with you. 

Microsoft 365 allows file sharing with off-campus (external) users. Please see How do I share files using OneDrive?

Yes, OneDrive may be used as a replacement for the N: drive. Highly restricted information may also be stored in OneDrive if two-factor authentication (2FA) is enabled. Please also review the Guidelines for secure data exchange: Choosing information transmission methods based on the security classification for more information.  

Expectation of privacy

Please see Guidelines on use of Waterloo computing and network resources.

Expectation of use

  1. Use of this service is governed by the Guidelines on use of Waterloo computing and network resources.

  2. Data stored in this service are subject to Microsoft data retentions policies, which may change from time to time. Currently, files may be retrieved from the users recycle bin for up to a period of 93 days. 

  3. Users of this service are expected to exercise the utmost care when sharing files, e.g. verify spelling of names and email addresses.

Please see the Guidelines for secure data exchange at

When saving to ‘OneDrive’, you are saving to your Microsoft 365 account. When saving to ‘SharePoint’, you are given the option to save to a recently used University of Waterloo (on premise) SharePoint site on which you have edit permissions. If you try to save to ‘Sites-University of Waterloo’ you will see an ‘UPLOAD FAILED’ error since this saves to a Shared space where all staff/faculty using Microsoft 365 would see your file.

IST's recommendation is to use the supported Microsoft Services. 

Method 1:

  1. Log in to the desktop version of OneDrive using your undergraduate email account (

  2. Log in to the web-based version of OneDrive using your secondary account (staff, faculty, graduate student, personal, etc.) at .

  3. Select all files from your desktop OneDrive folder and drag them into the web-based version.

  4. Keep your web browser open until the sync completes.

Method 2:

  1. Log in to the desktop version of OneDrive using both accounts.

    1. Adding a second OneDrive account for Windows 10.

    2. Adding a second OneDrive account for MacOS.

  2. Drag and drop files from your undergraduate folder, to your secondary folder.

  3. Allow time for OneDrive to sync.

Method 3: 

Follow the steps from the IST Knowledge Base article on Moving files from a OneDrive account to another OneDrive account.


Maximum File Size


Maximum File Size


15 GB

Microsoft Teams

15 GB

The Microsoft Teams OneDrive has 25 TB of storage. 


Email-undergraduate students


You can select a 'friendly' email address ( by updating your profile WatIAM.

Instructions to create a friendly email address:

  1. Once you sign in to WatIAM, select "Manage Familiar Name".

  2. You can change choose your "familiar name" to whatever you would like as shown below:

  3. Select “Submit” to save your “Familiar Name”. 

  4. Select "Manage Email Settings" 

  5. Select your friendly email address, and select “Submit”.

Yes. However, you need to change your familiar name in WatIAM. The familiar name change will be reflected in your Microsoft 365 account. 

  1. Go to WatIAM.

  2. Select "Manage Familiar Name".

  3. Enter your familiar name.

  4. Click Submit.

Please refer to information on recovering deleted items or email in Outlook Web App.

When setting up your new Microsoft 365 email account on your Android device you should be aware that if you use the ActiveSync method, it asks you to allow the following: 

"Remote Security Administration: The server requires that you allow it to remotely control some security features of your Android device. Do you want to finish setting up this account?"

Spam filtering is managed by Microsoft. Please see the documentation for anti-spam and anti-malware protection. You can report spam messages to Microsoft to help them to improve their services.


Microsoft Stream 

Microsoft Stream is an enterprise video management and sharing service where people in an organization can upload, view, organize and share videos securely. It allows users to connect, collaborate, learn and share information through a video format. Anyone can search for videos easily and consume them on their device, whenever and wherever. 

Stream is intended for all students, staff and faculty members within the University who are interested in using videos in the workplace to connect, collaborate, learn and share information.  

Stream has full integration with the Microsoft 365 suite. Your video data is also hosted on a Canadian based server providing better privacy and security.

With Stream (on SharePoint), users can:

  • Upload video or audio files to SharePoint, Teams, or OneDrive just like any other file.

  • Find and get back to recent videos, ones shared with you from the Stream start page in Office.

  • Generate a transcript and closed captions for the language spoken in a video in SharePoint, Teams, or OneDrive.

  • Manually add chapters, letting a viewer jump right to the part of the audio/video file they want.

  • Collaborate with comments, just like with any other Microsoft 365 document.

  • Add custom thumbnails, titles, and descriptions.

  • Share videos with others, including external partners or guests, just like you share any other file.

  • Feature videos in pages, sites, portals, and Microsoft Teams.

  • Get analytics to know how your viewers are watching.

For more information, see current features and upcoming roadmap for Microsoft Stream (on SharePoint).

On the Stream start page, click the Upload button and select a video file to upload to your OneDrive. Alternatively, upload a video directly to a SharePoint site, Microsoft Teams channel, or your OneDrive directly.

Since the videos are stored on SharePoint, Teams or OneDrive, you manage permissions for videos the same way you manage permissions for any other files in those locations.

Students can create content and watch video in Stream. Videos can be shared with external users using their email address. 

When you share items with others in OneDrive, Teams, or SharePoint, you can give them access to view, but not download. Fore more information, see block downloads for view-only files in SharePoint and OneDrive.

Microsoft Stream is supported in the current versions of Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. 

MP4 is recommended, but most common audio and video formats and codecs are supported. For more information, see the full list of supported video codecs and formats.

There is currently no retention period for Stream videos. For videos stored on OneDrive, they will remain until the user’s Microsoft 365 license expires (then be recoverable for 30 days). For videos stored in Microsoft Teams, they will remain as long as the team exists. If a team is deleted, then all files, including videos, will also be deleted (then be recoverable for 30 days). For videos stored on a SharePoint site, they will remain as long as the site exists. If a SharePoint site is deleted, then all files, including videos, will also be deleted (then be recoverable for 93 days).

You can download the Microsoft Stream app to access on a mobile device: 

  • Microsoft Stream for iOS for iOS 14+ (download

  • Microsoft Stream for Android 6.0+ (download

If you need additional help with Microsoft stream: 

Privacy and security


Microsoft 365 physical and logical security is managed by Microsoft and their service and data center staff. UWaterloo manages the authentication and login credentials. Microsoft is the hosting service and does not get user IDs and passwords. UWaterloo has administrator access to our instance of Microsoft 365. The University is the service provider to the community and we control our data.

No. Users gain access to Microsoft 365 by logging on to our standard University web login screens. When a user wants to access email, Microsoft 365 sends a request to the University’s authentication system (CAS) asking for UWaterloo credentials. This takes the user to the University’s web login screen, on equipment hosted by the University. When log in is successful, a token is sent back to Microsoft 365 that verifies the user’s identity. This is part of the separation of duties designed to better protect the privacy and confidentiality of community members.

In our digital world, most forms of communication are potentially exposed to electronic surveillance regardless of where they are hosted. Microsoft has stated that they do not provide back doors to their servers to governmental agencies. The University’s instance of Microsoft 365 is fully hosted on Canadian servers.

Yes, two-factor authentication (2FA) is currently available via opt-in for web-based logins only.

Microsoft will remove support for these protocols. Disabling these protocols in April 2020 is part of the migration to the @uwaterloo tenant/domain minimizes future disruptions.