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Google Drive File Sharing and Permissions

Google Drive Sharing Permissions: 2024 Guide

Google Drive has a granular sharing system that lets you determine how the recipients of your shared files or folders can interact with your data. You can choose from three options: editor, commenter and viewer. This guide will cover Google Drive sharing permissions and how to change them.

Jason StagnittoValentina BravoJasna Mishevska

Written by Jason Stagnitto (Writer)

Reviewed by Valentina Bravo (Editor)

Facts checked by Jasna Mishevska (Lead Fact-Checking Editor)

Last Updated: 2024-04-03T10:40:00+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

Key Takeaways: How to Change Sharing Permissions in Google Drive
  • Google Drive has three sharing permission options: editor, commenter and viewer.
  • You can change sharing permissions by choosing the email address from the “shared” menu and updating the permission.
  • You can also set general access to “restricted,” “anyone with the link,” or anyone in your shared drive membership. 

Facts & Expert Analysis About Google Drive:

  • Editor Access: Editors have the highest level of access and can perform most of the same functions as file owners, but can’t delete files.
  • Reduced Access: People with “commenter” access and “viewer” access have fewer permissions. A viewer can only view the file’s contents, while a commenter can add comments to the file and suggest edits. 
  • Transfer Ownership: Other options include access from and transferring ownership to each user you share data with.

Sharing files and folders is a primary function of Google Drive. When you type in the recipient’s email address, Google Drive allows you to determine permissions for sharing. Adjusting permissions gives you control over how others interact with your data. In this guide, we will cover everything about Google Drive sharing permissions.

Sharing permissions is an important feature, especially when sharing with a large group or team. Things could get out of hand if everyone had the ability to edit a document. Fortunately, you can limit recipients to comments or even view-only. 

Luckily, changing permissions in Google Drive is incredibly easy — the service’s ease of use and collaboration features are some of the reasons it’s ranked as one of the best cloud storage services. Read on to learn more about sharing permissions in Google Drive.

  • 04/03/2024 Facts checked

    We rewrote this guide on sharing permissions for Google Drive.

How to Change Google Drive Sharing Permissions

The following steps will show you how to update sharing permissions in Google Drive. If you want a more general guide on the service, first read our guide to using Google Drive.

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  1. Open the Sharing Menu

    Pick a file or folder you want to share or have shared, and from the three-dot menu, choose “share.” You can also share within the file by going to “file,” then “share,” then “share with others.”

    google drive file share
  2. Choose the Permissions

    Enter the recipient’s email address — you can even include multiple addresses if needed. Click the dropdown menu next to each recipient and choose whether they will be an editor, a commenter or a viewer. When ready, click “send.” You can change the permissions after sharing if necessary.

    google drive share permissions
  3. Evaluate General Access

    You can also change the “general access” from “restricted” to “anyone with the link” or to anyone within your organization.

    Google general access

You can also set expiration dates when you share a file, but you must use the Google Drive API. With it, once you add a user, click the down arrow next to the name and select “add expiration.” This can give 30-day access that will automatically expire after you share the file.

Google Drive File Sharing Permissions Explained

Sharing permissions with Google Drive gives you control over how others access and interact with individual files. As our Google Drive review explains, this service’s biggest strengths lie in its collaboration features and ease of use. It’s simple to make adjustments to people with access, and we strongly recommend using this feature to make Google Drive more secure.

Google Drive gives you three options: editor, commenter or viewer. Editors have the highest level of access to the shared files and can do everything the owner can except delete the files. 

Commenters and viewers have fewer permissions. A commenter can add comments to the file and suggest edits, while a viewer can only view the file’s contents. As highlighted above, you can change permissions for each email address at any point. Other options include transferring ownership and removing access.

Default PermissionsViewerCommenterEditor
Can access
Make comments
Make suggestions
Edit document
Share document

Google Drive Folder Sharing Permissions

Folder sharing permissions are nearly identical to file sharing permissions. The main difference is in the editor access role. Editors have almost the same access level as the original owner. They can add, organize, edit or share one or more files. However, an editor can’t delete files within a shared folder.

Default PermissionsViewerCommenterEditor
Can access
Make comments
Make suggestions
Organize files
Add files
Edit files
Share files

What Can a Commenter Do on Google Docs?

Commenters have a slightly higher access level than viewers. In addition to reviewing a file’s contents, commenters can leave comments and engage in conversations with others who have access. They can also leave editing or content suggestions in the file.

Google Sheets Commenter vs Editor

Editors have a deeper level of access than commenters and can perform almost all of the same functions as the original owner. Editors can make changes to the content, add new content or make deletions. They can make, accept or delete suggestions as well as leave and engage with comments. Editors can share with others but can’t delete files.

Google Drive Could Not Update Sharing Permissions: Easy Fix

If you run into issues with Google Drive’s sharing permissions, try troubleshooting with the following tips:

  1. Verify that the email address is correct.
  2. Make sure the recipient is an authorized collaborator.
  3. Check sharing capabilities with other email addresses.
  4. Clear your web browser cache and cookies, or use a different browser.
  5. Restart your computer.

Final Thoughts: How to Change Permissions for Google Accounts

Google Drive makes managing and changing sharing permissions for your files and folders easy. Even if you’ve already selected a specific permission for a recipient, you can change it at any time to editor, commenter or viewer. 

Ease of use and collaboration make Google Drive an excellent service to use, but if you’re not fully satisfied, check out the best Google Drive alternatives.

Do you use Google Drive to share items? Do you like the permission options? How often do you change permissions on your shared files or folders? Let us know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading our article.

FAQ: Google Drive File Sharing Settings

  • You can learn how to share a Google Drive folder in a few quick steps. Pick a folder from your Google Drive account, click on the three-dot menu and select the “share” option.

  • You can grant access to any folder in your Google Drive account by sharing it with the recipient and granting them the necessary permissions.

  • You can unshare a Google Doc by selecting the email in the “share” window and choosing “revoke access” from the dropdown menu.

  • If you no longer want to receive shared files on Google Drive, you’ll need to block the user from sharing with you.

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