Google Drive is a giant in the cloud storage world. It is by far the most used storage option out there, and it’s no slouch when it comes to sharing files. In fact, Google Drive is among the best cloud services for sharing because of its ease of use and simple interface. 

However, as easy as file sharing is for people familiar with cloud storage, it can still take a while for newcomers to get used to it. In this guide, we’ll help you understand how Google Drive file sharing works, so you can start taking advantage of all of its excellent features.

We’ll go over the basics, such as how to upload files and use the Drive folder, plus some more advanced features, like Google Docs collaboration. We’ll also explain some of its failures, like its suspicious privacy issues.

If you want a more in-depth look, you can check out our Google Drive review. You can also check out our most reliable cloud storage services, like Sync.com and pCloud. Otherwise, keep reading this article to get the latest information on how to share files on Google Drive.

What Is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a cloud storage service. Cloud services let you upload and sync files and folders to a remote server, so that they don’t take up space on your computer. You only need an internet connection to access them, and there are various ways to do that, but we’ll explain that later in this article.

01_Google_Drive_Sharing_Guide_home_page

Drive comes for free with every Google account, so if you already have one, you don’t need to create a separate account. It has one of the best free plans for cloud storage, offering 15GB of space. 

If you feel like that’s not enough, though, you can upgrade your plan to 100GB for only $1.99 per month. Its 2TB plan, rebranded as Google One, is a real bargain, too, costing only $9.99 monthly.

15GB
  • Free plan
  • 15 GB Storage
100GB
  • 100 GB Storage
1-year plan $ 1.67/ month
$19.99 billed every year
Save 16 %
200GB
    1-year plan $ 2.50/ month
    $29.99 billed every year
    Save 16 %
    2TB
    • 2000 GB Storage
    1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
    $99.99 billed every year
    Save 17 %
    10TB
    • 10000 GB Storage
    20TB
    • 20000 GB Storage
    30TB
    • 30000 GB Storage

    It’s also an excellent productivity option because of its seamless integration with Google’s G Suite of office apps. These apps include Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, and they can totally replace Microsoft’s Office suite apps if your business relies on online collaboration.

    Google Drive File Uploading

    You can upload files to Drive using either its website or one of the desktop and mobile apps. The desktop app is called “Backup and Sync,” and installing it on your computer will create a Google Drive folder where you can see all of your cloud files.

    To upload a file using the Drive folder, simply drag and drop the file into the folder. If you make any changes to the file, it will sync automatically, so you don’t have to reupload it.

    Using the website to upload files is easy, as well. The easiest way to do this is by dragging and dropping them straight into the main window of the website. Alternatively, you can click the “new” button and then select either “file upload” or “folder upload.” Next, choose the file or folder you want to upload and you’re done.

    Google Drive File Sharing

    Now that your files and folders are in the cloud, you can share them with other people. Just like before, you can do this either via the website or the desktop app. However, the website offers more sharing options for collaboration using G Suite apps.

    Google Drive Sync Folder Sharing

    To share a file using the Drive folder, you first need to navigate to the folder and then right-click on the file or folder that you want to share. Next, hover your mouse over the option called “Google Drive.” From the dropdown menu, you can click “copy link to clipboard,” which will create a share link for your file. To set share settings, though, you can simply click “share.”

    This will open a dialog box with sharing options. You can share with specific people by adding their email address. You can add multiple email addresses at once. This lets you set separate permissions for each person on the list. You can set each person’s permission level to “viewer,” “commenter” or “editor.”

    You can then click on the little cog icon in the top-right corner to open a settings menu and change what these permission levels do. From the settings menu, you can choose to block “viewers” and “commenters” from downloading, printing or copying the shared files. You can also stop editors from changing permissions and adding more collaborators.

    However, if you don’t need to set specific permissions for people, you can simply create a shareable link. You can set permission levels for the link, but keep in mind that everyone with the link has the same permissions. You should be especially careful about sharing links with “editor” permissions, because you can’t set a password for share links.

    Google Drive Web Interface Sharing

    Using the website to share files and folders works similarly to the method we just described. The same options and dialog boxes are there, but getting to them is a little different.

    Like before, you can right-click on the file or folder you want to share. Then you can click “share” or “get shareable link” to share your file. You can also find these options in the top-right corner of the screen. They will appear when you click on the file.

    Clicking on either of these options will bring up different tabs of the same dialog box. The “share” button lets you share files by adding them to an email address list, and the “get shareable link” lets you copy a link to share with anyone who has it. Both of these options have the same settings and permissions that we talked about previously.

    However, there’s one big difference here, and that’s the G Suite apps, which are all accessible from the Google Drive website. You can open G Suite documents directly from the website and edit them with your coworkers. This kind of collaboration power is what makes Drive one of the best cloud services for collaboration.

    When you share a G Suite document, such as a Google Docs file, you can set the permission level to “editor” to let the recipient edit the document. This will let up to 100 people open and edit the file simultaneously. You can see the edits each editor makes in real time and leave comments for each other in the margins.

    How to Share Large Files on Google Drive

    Drive is especially useful for sharing large files because of its very high file size cap. You can upload files up to 5TB, but the limit is lower for G Suite documents. For Docs and Sheets, the limit is 50MB, and the limit for Slides is 100MB. Folders have no size limitations. However, the largest file that you can share is 10GB, even though you can upload larger files.

    How to Share Entire Google Drive

    If you find yourself needing to share everything that’s on your Google account at once, there’s no option to do that by default. However, you can select all the folders in your Drive at once and use the “share” option to share them. You can also move all of your data to one folder, which you can then share any way you like.

    Google Drive Shared With Me

    If you use Google Drive a lot, the links that you receive can pile up quickly. Thankfully, Google has included a separate tab for all of these links called “shared with me.”

    This tab includes everything that you’ve received via Drive, all in one place. Next to the file name is the name of the person who shared it with you and the date when it was shared. This lets you easily keep tabs on links that you receive without having them clutter up your own folders. There is no such option for the links you’ve created yourself, though.

    Google Drive Sharing Weaknesses

    Even though its sharing features are among the best, Drive still has some glaring weaknesses, mostly regarding security and privacy.

    Drive doesn’t let you set passwords, download limits or expiry dates for shared links. This is one area where competitors like Sync.com and pCloud are much better options. Only Sync.com has all of these features, though, and its privacy policy is much better than Drive’s, but that’s an entirely different issue.

    Data farming is Google’s main source of income, so your data is never truly private when using its services. It scans everything you upload and collects information on everything, from the ads you click on to the videos you watch.

    However, if none of that is a concern for you, Drive is still among the best cloud services, and its collaboration features and free plan are very enticing.

    Final Thoughts

    Despite its issues, Drive is still Google Drive when it comes to sharing and collaboration. Editing documents with multiple people is a breeze, and Google tries its best to make it easy for its users to share anything they want, the way they want.

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    Its free plan is excellent, with 15GB of storage and no limitations on features. Its paid plans are very competitively priced, but if you’re looking for a real bargain, you can take a look at our best deals in cloud storage list.

    We hope this guide helped you to better understand how to share using Drive. If there’s something we haven’t covered, feel free to ask us about it in the comment section below.

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    42 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide On How To Share Files on Google Drive”

    1. I have parts of my biography that I cannot attach how I was able in the past. I have two parts of the biography finished. The Part VI Biography has creaaated for me a great deal of consternation when I try to attach it. What is the most expedicious avenue that I should take to overcome this problem?
      I used the email vector.

    2. I’ve tried to share a large file of pic’s w/gf & she can only view, etc one pic at a time – not nice. How can I share these so that she’s able to see, view, edit, comment as I am. (seeing all the pic’s in the folder & easily moving between them) Thanks

    3. Trying to download 100s of large video files from a friends Shared folder. Google drive attempts to zip them up and then complains that it is too large to create. The only way I’ve been able to do this is to individually download them. This is an incredibly slow process, please advise.

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        Nope, you’re pretty much stuck there, sorry. Next time maybe consider using a different service? Off the top of my head, I’d say MEGA and Sync are your best bet.

    4. I want more storage, but hesitate to purchase it when at only 15GB I can’t download, view, or share the files with any reasonable system intact. Yes, zip files download, but limitations are not specified. When zips open the files are sketchy at best, a many files don’t download for unknown reasons, The directories are all gone which leaves a massive wad of unsorted files that take forever to reorganize (just to find out what is missing). Question—If I invest any $$ into an ever-changing online storage system that lets me down at 15GB would I be Insane to actually pay $$ for 1 or 2 TB without documented file management, documented share system, and a without a reliable upload-download system that won’t loose, distort, or otherwise compromise what may amount to many years of my life’s investments? Not yet I think

    5. I’m just setting up my Google Drive and have three folders in the root directory. When, in the web interface, as a trial, I give permission to view but not edit only one of the folders to one specific person only, she can see any of the three of my files and copy, delete, etc. Nothing I do is able to change this behavior. What am I doing wrong?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        That’s weird. Have you tried maybe going to the sharing settings of the other two files and seeing whether she’s on there? That could fix it.

    6. When I “add” a “shared with me” file to my own Drive, the activity log for the file says that I “moved” it, even if I access the file info from “shared with me.” Did I really move it away from the owner’s storage? If so, what will happen if/when I remove it from my drive? I want to be very clear on the expected result before I do this, because the file contains massive information about the owners business that could not be recovered if I accidentally delete the file.

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        Generally you can’t just remove a file from somebody else’s cloud. That said, to be extra safe, just duplicate the file and move the copy.

        1. I want to own some ‘shared with me’ files. How do I do that? I have done it in the past but forgotten. That way if the person who shared them in the first place decides to delete them, I am at a loss. If I own them I won’t have to worry about that situation happening. Thank you!

          1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

            You don’t need to own them, just copy them into your own drive and you’re good to go 🙂

            1. Can you do a bulk copy of files on your drive, either to download or to a second gmail drive?

            2. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

              Yes, you can. The download will just get you a massive .zip file, which you can then reupload to your other Drive.

    7. In Explorer, when I drag and drop a file into my G-drive and then right-click and go to Drive File Stream, it shows the file is available Online Only (Available Offline is not checked). Is the file being deleted from the local drive when I move it into the Google File Stream drive?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        No, it’s not. You’re basically copying the file into the cloud.

    8. I tried to share just 1 folder in my drive to my wife to test with link. she is now able to see all the folders and files in my drive. Can or how do i allow just the one folder in drive to be seen by other users without seeing everything in my drive.

    9. I just created an email account with G-suite because my student email is expiring soon. I want to transfer ownership of my files to the new account, but keep getting the message that it’s not possible because my new email is “not a gmail” – even though it is? It doesnt end in “@gmail.com” but it is a g-suite email…

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        Changing ownership is rife with issues, if not this it’ll be something else. You’re best off simply copying all the files from your old Drive to a new one. You may have to download it to your own system first. Good luck!

    10. I have 50 individual photo files in my ipad Google Drive that I want to put into one sharable folder. Ipad doesn’t have a mouse so no right click anything. The 50 images are art related so wishing to send one file folder. How to please?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        A google search of “how to use Google Drive on an iPad” gave me a bunch of results with some pretty good guides. Try that and let us know how you got along.

    11. Great article! My question: If I want a person from Odesk to do work on a file (Office 365 files) but not be able to download the files onto their own laptop or PC, does google drive provide that safety. If I send them a link to their gmail account to my google drive, can that person then download the files (Microsoft 365 powerpoint, word, PDF and excel) onto their own pc, or are the files safe and the person from Odesk can only edit the files while on my google drive site and won’t be able to download the files onto their computer? If Google drive won’t work do you have any recommendations?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        No, Google Drive won’t work, and nothing else springs to mind, TBH. Generally speaking, edit permission also means download permission. Good luck finding a way around your issue.

    12. Scenario: There are 2 G-suites with domains attached. G1 is all locked down so that anyone accessing any files, even view only, require a personalised login. Those who need editing rights have them for the appropriate folders etc.

      G2 is attached to a public-facing website and includes files such as public gallery images and newsletters. The member area is accessed via a single login but no secure documents are stored here. Only one or two people have editing rights to this.

      Question: Is it possible to have a link on the website to the G1 “general members” files (read only) without having to use the share link option?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        That sounds like a scenario Google’s support has the answer to. Please ask them, but do post the answer here, thank you!

    13. I have a problem.
      I have 100G on my gdrive, and I have shared one folder with another person.
      I have 70G free, and the person I’m sharing with can not see all 70G. They see just couple of gigs.

      why? whats the point? is there any fix, settings or workarround?

    14. I use 2 google drives – one for personal files and one for my charity. The files from the charity have been shared with me and show as shared files in my personal account. However, the whole file also appears in my personal drive. I would like to delete the files from my personal drive to save the room, but it deletes from the charity (owner) drive as well. What am I doing wrong to have the files duplicated and can I remove them from my personal file to only show in “shared with me”?

    15. I have a family history file for which I want to send email links to family members. Security is not a problem.

      The master file on my computer is a Word file with internal links, URL links and links to other Word files. I also wish to link PDF files and a KMZ (Google Earth) file. These I have placed into intermediary Word files. So the link within the main file is to a Word file which contains either a PDF or KMZ link. It is not so clunky as it appears as I can put information in the intermediary Word file relating to the link which is better left out of the main file.

      I prefer to export the main file as a PDF as they are more robust. But I want to leave the linked Word files as they are.

      When I convert my master Word file to a PDF file all the links work perfectly on my computer. How much of this can be made to work when others access it via a Google Drive email link which I export?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        I’ve never had trouble with getting links in PDFs to work when they’re hosted in Drive, so you should be okay.

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        If you send a file to just one person nobody should be able to look in. Is that what you mean?

    16. Thank you for this article! Much appreciated.
      Is there a storage provider that enables you to have people register/submit their contact information (email, mobile etc) to download your link?

    17. If I create a sub folder or a document within a folder that is shared with me; on whose Drive do they sit? On my Drive or the Drive of the shared folder?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        On your drive, usually, but you should be able to change that.

    18. Is there a way to share a Google Drive link with EVERYONE who can view it simultaneously? I have a list of 115 viewers and I would prefer not to copy and past them one by one

    19. Thank you for the article. Is there a way for a person with editing rights to a Drive folder to upload a file without a Google account?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        You can’t have editing rights without a Gmail account, IIRC, so I’d just get a quick email and you’re off to the races.

    20. kind of new to drive, having problems with sharing. i set up a folder with some images on drive. opened the sharing panel and entered 3 mail addresses. none of them has received the mail invite. addresses have been checked and are correct. any thoughts?

      1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

        Try creating a separate folder, putting the images in that, and sharing the folder by right-clicking. Let us know if it works or not, if not, we can go from there.

        1. ok, that’s exactly what i did but nobody got the links. tried sending a link to myself using another email, nothing there either.

    21. I am trying to share a presentation with videos with someone but they keep having to request access to the videos and cannot see the videos at all. How can I bypass this?

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