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.
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.
1-year plan $ 1.67/ month
$19.99 billed every year
Save 16 %
1-year plan $ 2.50/ month
$29.99 billed every year
Save 16 %
1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
$99.99 billed every year
Save 17 %
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.
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.
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.
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. We also have a guide on how to transfer ownership of a Google Drive folder, in case that’s something you want to do.
Also, although we have talked about G Suite in this article, it has recently been rebranded as Google Workspace.