Google File Sharing

Google Drive isn’t just a service for cloud storage and syncing, it’s also a nice alternative to Microsoft Office. It provides a word processor, a presentation program, a drawing program, a form builder and spreadsheets. It also fully supports popular Microsoft file types, including PDF, HTML, TXT and more. 

This makes it easier to share files with collaborators, whether or not they have Office or other similar programs. That means collaborators can view and edit files with you, provided they have a browser and an internet connection. 

In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of file sharing with Google Drive, plus how you can control who can view, edit, write comments and much more. You can also read our Google Drive review to get more information about this file storage and synchronization service.

How to Share Files in Google Drive

You can share Google Drive files with anyone, as long as you have their email address. When you share those files, you can control who can view, edit or comment on them. We’re going to show you how to share your files stored in Google Drive from a PC, Android or iOS device.

Sharing Files on Google Drive With Your Browser

Open Google Drive and find the specific file that you’d like to share. Click on the file and then hit the “share” icon — which looks like a person with a plus sign — at the top-right side of your screen. You can also right-click on the file and select “share.”


For multiple files, hold “shift” on your keyboard and select two or more files. Then click “share” on the top-right side of your screen. 

For Google Forms, the sharing options are different compared to other types of files. You can share a form with collaborators to work on it together. To do this, open the form, click the three dots at the top-right side of your screen and select “add collaborators.” 

Type the name or email address of your collaborator, and then click “send.” The collaborator can then edit any part of the form, including saved responses. 

Note: If you don’t want the shared link to be sent as an email to each collaborator, click “advanced.”

Then you can deselect the “notify people” box.

Sharing Google Docs Files With Specific People and Permissions

To share a Google Doc file, click the “share” icon, or right-click on the file and select “share.” This pops open a box that reads “share with others.” Under “people,” you can enter the email address of the person or people you want to share the files with. If the recipient doesn’t have a Gmail account, they will only be able to view the file.

To define access permissions, click the “pencil” icon on the right side of the “share with others” pop-up box. You’ll get three options: “can edit,” “can comment” or “can view.” Select the option you want and then click “send.”

How to Share Files in Google Drive

  1. Open Google Drive
  2. Find the file you want to share
  3. Click the “share” icon or right-click on the file and select “share”
  4. For multiple files, hold “shift” on your keyboard, select two or more files and then click “share”
  5. For Google Forms, open the form, click “more” and select “add collaborators.” Type the name or email address of your collaborators, and click “send”
  6. In the “share with others” box, enter under “people” the email addresses of the person or people you want to share the files with 
  7. Click the “pencil” icon on the right side, select “can edit,” ”can view” or ”can comment,” and click “send”

Sharing Files With Groups

Google file sharing is limited to 200 people or groups. Up to 100 people can simultaneously comment and edit, but more than 100 people can view the file, though it’s easier to publish it and create a shareable link.

You can also share files with up to 200 people or groups, but beyond that, you’ll need to create a Google Group and share the file with the group via a single email address.

For instance, you can create a group with a specific email address — such as [email protected] — and add members to the group. You can then use the group email address to share files with group members.

If you share content with a subgroup of a main group, the subgroup’s members can access the same content that’s shared with the parent group. You can also remove members from the group, and they’ll lose access to the content shared with the group. 

New members who you add later to the group can open the files through URLs, but the shared content won’t immediately appear in their “shared with me” view in Google Drive. Instead, you will have to share the content again with the group, or individually with each new member.

You can also limit your group’s content-sharing abilities with others and only allow those from your organization to access the files.

To share a file with a group, create a document in Google Drive or open an existing one, then click “share.”

Click “advanced,” then enter the group’s email address under “invite people” and select the access permission levels: “can edit,” “can comment” or “can view.” Then click “done.”

How to Share Files With a Group in Google Drive

  1. Create a document in Google Drive or open an existing one
  2. Click “share”
  3. Under “invite people,” enter the group’s email address
  4. Select the access permission levels: “can edit,” “can comment” or “can view”
  5. Click “done”

How to Share a Link to a File

Select the file, then click the “get shareable link” icon — which looks like a link of chain — at the top-right of the screen. Otherwise, right-click the file and select “get shareable link.”

Click “sharing settings.” 

Click the “down” arrow next to “anyone with the link” to select the permission options.

Copy the link and paste it in an email or wherever you want to share it. 

To publicly share your file so that anyone on the web can search, find and open it, click “get shareable link,” click the “down” arrow next to “anyone with the link” and click “more.”

Click on “public on the web,” then hit “save.”

Note: If you open your file and see an anonymous animal instead of a person’s name, this means the person accessing the file isn’t signed in to a Google account.

How to Share a Link in Google Drive

  1. Click “get shareable link,” or right-click the file and select “get shareable link”
  2. Click “sharing settings” and then click the “down” arrow next to “anyone with the link” to select permission options
  3. Copy the link and paste it wherever you want to share it
  4. To share your file publicly, click “get shareable link” and then click the “down” arrow next to “anyone with the link”
  5. Click “more” and select “public on the web.” Click “save,” then “done”

How to Stop Sharing a File on Google Drive

If you no longer want to share a file with somebody, the easiest way to change this is to right-click the file or folder, go to “sharing,” then “advanced.” From there, you can remove the people you no longer want to share with by simply clicking on the “x” on the right.

Sharing Files on Google Drive With the Mobile App

If you’re using Google Drive from your Android or iOS device, the process is similar but with a few slight changes from the desktop version. To share a single file, open the Google Drive app and tap the “more” icon (three dots) next to the file’s name.

Tap “share.”

For multiple files, create a folder and add the files to it, and then tap the “more” icon next to the folder’s name to share the entire folder.

File Sharing Permissions on Android or iOS Devices

If you use an Android or iOS device, you can share files with specific people who have a Google account. Under “people,” enter the person’s email address or the Google group you want to share with.

Tap the “send” icon.

Note: If you don’t want people to be notified via email, tap the “more” icon (three dots) at the top, and select “skip sending notifications.”

How to Share a File in Google Drive on Mobile

  1. Open the Google Drive app and tap the “more” icon (three dots) next to the file’s name
  2. Tap “share”
  3. For multiple files, create a folder and add the files to it, and then tap the “more” icon next to the folder’s name to share the entire folder
  4. Under “people,” enter the person’s email address or the Google group you want to share with
  5. Tap “send”

Sharing Files Using a Link on Mobile

Tap the “more” icon (three dots) next to the file’s name and tap “link sharing off” to turn it on.

Tap “copy link” and then paste the link wherever you want to share it.

Note: If you don’t own the file, you won’t see the “share link” option. In this case, ask the file owner for permission to share the file.

How to Share a Google Drive Link on Mobile

  1. Tap the “more” icon (three dots) next to the file’s name and tap “link sharing”
  2. Tap “copy link” and then paste the link wherever you want to share it

Sharing a File Publicly From Your Mobile Device

You can also share your file publicly via your mobile device so that anyone can search, find and open it on the internet.

Tap the “more” icon, then “share.” Scroll down and tap “who has access.”

Tap “link sharing off” to turn it on.

Tap the “down” arrow to choose permission options: “edit,” “comment” or “view.”

Paste the link wherever you’d like to share it.

How to Publicly Share a Google Drive File From Your Mobile Device

  1. Tap the “more” icon, then “info” and select “link sharing off”
  2. Tap the “down” arrow to choose permission options: “edit,” “comment” or “view”
  3. Paste the link wherever you’d like to share it

Google File Sharing: Privacy and Security

It’s easy to share and distribute files in Google Drive, but it has a few shortcomings. One of the biggest ones is that you can’t set expiration dates or passwords for links so that only those with the password can view or download the shared file. Secure file sharing with Google Drive is tricky, and we don’t recommend using it for sensitive files.

Most other cloud storage services lack this, too, although there are a few exceptions among our best cloud storage for sharing providers. Our top suggestion from that list is, which encrypts file sharing and lets you set expiry dates, passwords and download limits on links (read our review).

Additionally, you should know that Google Drive’s terms-and-conditions agreement grants permission to the company to scan content that’s stored and shared. One of the reasons for this is to protect copyrighted material, like movies, from being shared, especially if they’re torrented

If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, you’re better off using one of the best zero-knowledge cloud storage providers, such as, Tresorit or pCloud.

Final Thoughts

File sharing is one of Google Drive’s most vital elements, without which it wouldn’t be among our top picks for the best cloud storage for sharing. For the most part, the process is straightforward, and we hope this guide puts you on the right path.

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If all you want is to collaborate, share and work with documents, Google Drive is a great option. If your priority is security and privacy, give our best cloud storage tools for collaboration a read for more options. Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.

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43 thoughts on “Google File Sharing: The Complete Guide for 2020”

    1. - Chief Editor

      Yeah, anyone you’ve shared with can see all the others.

        1. - Chief Editor

          Making multiple copies is probably the best and most foolproof way.

  1. I am a graphic designer and photographer and Gmail has destroyed my business. I no longer can file share. Even when I give permissions the recipient CAN NOT access the files. I am just LIVID this process is so complicated. Google has totally dropped the ball on this mess. I am at a total loss.

  2. if a person shares a file with me, and i click on “add to my drive”, then if the person deleted the file in his computer, i am aware that it will also be deleted from my shared folder. but what about from “my drive” will it also be deleted or is it that once i click on add to my drive, it makes a copy and no matter what the owner does, i will have a copy in “my drive”?

    1. - Chief Editor

      Yes, you should still have a copy. To make sure, you could consider moving it to a different folder.

  3. When I share a file in Google Drive, are the people with whom I shared it able to access the other files or folders in the same folder as the file I shared, or can they only see the file I chose to share? Is there a difference regarding this between how much access I grant them?

    1. - Chief Editor

      No, it’s limited only to the file or folder you’re sharing.

  4. hi, a few weeks ago I share a video through gmail, file was heavy so i shared via google drive. and I think I choose share and send option. now they can access my google photos back-up as well. as proof they share with me. link showed on whats app as: album archive- auto back up and some with date. URL starts with // etc. can you tell me how it is possible?

    1. - Chief Editor

      It’s a weird Google SNAFU. You’re going to have to manually disallow them from seeing the photos, it’s a pain.

  5. Folks, folks.. calm your horses. People moan and groan about all the data Google has on them, some go so far as to boycott Google or limit themselves to the services they can use because they refuse to create a Google account.

    If you are on the internet, guess what, if anyone cares enough they too can get data of you.

    I have every single option for data mining turned on for Google. All my activity, my locations, my history, all open for Google to track. Why? For a few reasons:
    It’s come in handy for me more times than I can count.. Knowing where I was at a specific time, or being able to search my gmail for a needle-in-a-haystack email from over a decade ago because it’s the only email that can verify account ownership or my identity somewhere, has been priceless.

    Also, browsing history dating back months has come in handy more often than I would have ever thought.

    About the only thing I don’t let Google store are my passwords, I use trust LastPass with that sensitive information..

    Besides, Google having all my data is the ONE company in the entire online eco-system that I would rather have my data than anyone else. They are open and honest with what they do.. and contrary to what some people wrongly assume, Google doesn’t make their money from selling off their data of you, rather they sell their ability to use your data for targeting for specific purposes (advertising).. They do not give their advertisers the data they have, if they did it would instantly lose it’s value, instead they sell their ability to search through your data and use it on behalf of their customers.. Just wanted that to be clear to people.

    Google Fan-girl signing off, writing this on my Chromenbook 😉

    1. Not so nice! Many people want to mantain many things private: documents about money, ID documents, nude-sex content, children info in a risk environment, and a long long etc. Letting them know “everything” is, by far, too risky. It can be useful for you, but it can also be it for thieves, fraudsters, crooks and so on. If we speak corporate, we will speak about a lot of money, risking jail, employment, bankruptcy, etc., etc. Google need to be crystal clear about MANY issues. Supose just this example: someone share with you a video of a child being abused. They don’t need your consent, just need your email. They can send you and old video, so it could be thrown into the bottom of “MyDrive”. They send it to you with a boring file name, very similar to any other normal file (“work (2).mpg”). Which will be the legal consequences of having that file in your drive? Not knowing or not having play it, demonstrate your innocence? The possibilities are huge. Huge and dangerous.

  6. If I share a file from a g suit googledocs account and set the shared file to *can edit. And the original account gets deleted. Can the person who I shared that file with still have access to it?

    1. - Chief Editor

      I have no idea, honestly. Why don’t you give it a try and post the results here?

  7. I have a slightly off-topic question. Is there a privacy-secure alternative to Google Drive and the other online collaborative Google apps? Something like DuckDuckGo vis-a-vis Google Search?

    1. - Chief Editor

      Nah, you’re going to have to go with an entirely different online ecosystem, like OneDrive or something.

  8. Why would google files and folders continue to show up in the “shared with me” section of my google drive after my email address has been deleted from the share with advanced settings of those files and folders?

  9. I shared a Google Drive file with a list of e-mail addresses some of which are not Google accounts. I know that those non-Google accounts can only view the file. Later when right click the the shared file and click the “share” icon, only the people with Google accounts are listed as my file sharer. Is this par for the course? Any way or any where I can dig up who have been on my list of file sharers?

  10. If I share a parent folder with someone, do they automatically see/have permission to every subfolder and documents within them?

    Also, if I create a new document within a folder and share only that new document with someone – will they see/have permission to the other files within that folder or just the single file I shared?

    Lastly – Basically the same question as above but with Sharing a single subfolder – will the person see/have permission to all other subfolders/parent folder?

    Thank you!

    1. - Chief Editor

      Let’s break it down: questions 1 and 3 the answer is both yes, you’ll have to manually disallow people from subfolders after sharing its parent. It’s a massive PITA, but there you go. As for question 2, only the file shared should be visible and accessible, but only if you specifically share a file.

  11. I want to share a file anonymously via Google drive, meaning i dont want people to know its coming from my account, if i share a file with a link that anyone can view can they tell its from my account?

  12. hi fergus!
    thanks for your very appreciated service here!
    also, i have a question:
    my husband put an elaborate work together and kept saving it on google drive, although i asked him not to be so trustworthy.
    have you ever heard or is there a risk of losing ownership by fraud and theft of intellectual property through google? and/or is it easy to hack these accounts for pro’s?
    thanks, ava

    1. - Chief Editor

      Not really, your husband should be fine, though you can always save it twice, maybe to (it’s free).

  13. Is there a way to make a Google doc that I own so that I am forced to make a copy of it each time I open it? I want to preserve that original doc as a clean template.

  14. Im sharing a gsheet to some friends and im he cant copy it is there anyway to fix this? i have unticked everything in advanced

  15. I made a map of a garden trail for an event last year. When the event was over, I put it in the bin so the public who bought tickets could no longer see it. Brought it out of the bin this year to update with current information. Now event is over. So the only way to hide it from link holders is to put it back into the bin? Isn’t there a better way to take something off-line? It does not make sense for the map with custom icons, etc to be up there. Some of the locations are private gardens and people might think they are open all the time. It would be too annoying to delete it all and rebuild each year as there are photos and descriptions that go with the map pins.
    Someone said the business version of Google Drive lets you do this?

    1. ETA I tried to change the sharing to just me, but am worried that the link and QR for next year will have to be redone?

      1. - Chief Editor

        Just change the permissions back to just you, and then next year change it back to everybody again. That should work. Let us know if you have any other problems with it.

  16. OK great… so no one is going to be annoyed to be presented with the login to a google drive dialogue box vs the URL just saying not found as it did when I would put it in the bin as I did last year when it said there were/was no map at that link or something similar? I did what you said, but I don’t think I saw it properly as an incognito, as it still wanted to recognise myself, but on my husband’s machine I still got the drive login box. So am just curious what the general public will see. Thanks for the fast reply.

  17. Regarding item 7, while the checkbox disables the download, print, and copy buttons, a savvy web user can still save, copy, and print any data that shows up. If they can view it, they copy that appears on screen can be captured and used however the viewer wants.

    Be careful with what you share. Just because the copy button is gray and the ctrl+c shortcut does not work for you doesn’t mean the data is uncopyable. They protections against downloading, copying, and printing make the actions slightly more difficult but offer no true data protection against anyone able to view the documents.

  18. If I change ownership of all files from a previous employee to another google account on my domain, will it look as if the new owner actually created the file? Is there a way to search for files created by the previous employee? Right now I have the previous employees marked as suspended so that we can still get to their files but that is getting expensive as the company grows and we have turnover. Basically I’d like to keep it as is an not have to pay for that person any longer but as it is we are paying 10/mo for each suspended user.

    1. - Chief Editor

      If you transfer ownership, the original creator should still show in the version history.

  19. I have a question, I Just shared some files for a colleague thru Gmail, but have to linked it from Google Drive as the Files have many contents and large in file size, If I moved those items in my Trash, will they still be able to have access to the subfolders within the folders I shared?

    1. - Chief Editor

      Probably not, so don’t trash anything until you know they’ve copied the files into their own Drive.

  20. I wanted so unshare a large file with many sub files with three persons. As an experiment, I shared it with another gmail account I have. Then, I unshared it from that gmail. Even though unshared, I was still able to access the file. Also, I deleted the 3 gmails I wanted to unshare. However, the share icon still shows in the folder boxes. How do I know these folders are unshared? Thanks for your help!!

    1. - Chief Editor

      Right click on the folder, go to share, click “advanced” and you’ll see a list of people that it’s shared with. Click the X to remove them. Good luck!

  21. I have several hundred docs shared with me. I want to organize them. I can make folders in My Drive and ‘link’ each doc to an appropriate folder. But they’re still all listed in “Shared with me”! Which means I can’t tell which files I’ve organized, and which ones I haven’t! Is there any way around this?

    Ideally, I’d love it if, once I’ve ‘linked’ (some people call it “moved”, but it’s not really a move) a file to a folder in My Drive, I’d like it to stop appearing in “Shared with me”. Or at least be marked somehow so I know I’ve already organized it.

    1. - Chief Editor

      Yeah, that one is on my wishlist as well. It’s annoying, but no fix on the horizon, I’m afraid.

  22. I clicked something on google sheet, I think it’s the link sharing on. But after that when I wanted to open the sheet, I can’t find it anymore. I tried to look for it in the shared google drive and shared folder but can’t find it. Will the owner of the google drive still have the sheet or still can access it? Sorry if it’s confusing. Thank you!

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