Google Drive: Sharing Files

Objectives and Overview

This lesson introduces the process for sharing and collaborating with others with Google Drive.

Lesson Objectives

  • Identify how Google Drive can be used for collaboration
  • Recognize how to share files with other collaborators
  • Identify the different sharing permissions and how to change them

Collaboration With Google Drive

Google Drive is very useful as a storage and organization tool. However, this isn’t the only benefit. You’re able to share files and folders with collaborators! This is one of the most useful features of Google Drive. There are many times when you would want to share files and collaborate.

One situation is that you’ll need to create a document and share it with a coworker that you’re collaborating with, for a team event like a meeting.

You also may be working alongside a coworker in a Google Doc or a slide show. Sharing files and folders with others is at the core of both of these examples.

Sharing Files With Others

You may originally use Google Drive to organize your own files and folders, but as you start working more with others you’ll need to share content. Let’s take a look at how to do this!

As your comfort and familiarity with G Suite increases, you’ll likely find that there are multiple ways to accomplish the same thing. This lesson introduces two of the most common methods for sharing content.

Here’s a gif showing the steps for sharing a file with others:

Sharing a file with others by clicking the "share" button in the toolbar.

First, click on the file you want to share:

Google Drive main view with an arrow pointing to a Google Doc.

You’ll know the file is selected because it’ll have an outline and light background color. Click on the share button above the file view:

Google Drive main view with an arrow pointing to the "share" button.

Next, enter the email address for the person you want to share with. In this example, the document will be shared with “” Enter one (or more) email addresses and hit then Done button:

Google Calendar "Share with people and groups" window with an email entered.

A window pops up asking you to type a quick message. Type a short message providing some context:

Google Calendar "Share with people and groups" window with an email entered and a brief message written.

Before sharing, make sure to review the permissions. The default was set to Editor. This means that whoever you share with can edit all of your file. You may not want this. To change, click the dropdown and select the permission you want:

Google Calendar "Share with people and groups" window with an arrow pointing to the file permissions dropdown.

You’ve now shared the file!

Sharing Permissions

In the previous example, you set the permission before sharing, but what happens if you need to change them? You may find that you accidentally gave someone edit permission when you intended them to view. Fortunately, you’re able to change these settings even after you’ve shared the file! Before starting, let’s go over what each of the permissions does. These are listed in order of least to most permission:

  • Viewer: Grants read-only access to the file. The person can only view the content.
  • Commenter: The person can read and make comments (but not directly edit the content).
  • Editor: The person can read, make comments, and edit the actual content.

If you’re giving someone Editor access, you’ll want to be sure that you trust them with the document. They can change anything in it! Let’s look at how to change permissions once they’re set.

Here’s a gif showing the steps:

Sharing a file with others and setting the permissions.

To start, select on the file (or folder) and click the Share button like you did when you shared the file. This brings up the window where you first set the permissions. Since the file has been shared, you’ll see the names of people you’ve shared with:

Google Drive "Share with people and groups" with an arrow pointing to one of the people the file is shared with.

Find the person whose permissions you want to change, and click on the dropdown to the right of their name. In this example, you’d click on the dropdown that says Viewer:

Google Calendar "Share with people and groups" with an arrow pointing to the file permissions dropdown.

Once you click on this, you can change their permissions. You’re also able to transfer the document (Make owner) or unshare the document (Remove). These options are helpful to know.

Google Calendar "Share with people and groups" with the file permissions showing and a box around the "Remove" option.

Files Shared With You

Being able to quickly list and access files and folders that are shared with you is beneficial. You’ll often need to open a document shared with you for a meeting. Google Drive has a shortcut to list all files and folders shared with you.

Clicking on the Shared with me entry on the left sidebar lists everything that is shared with your account. This ranges from individual files (such as Google Docs) to entire Google Drive folders. At first, you may see an empty view like this example:

Google Drive main view with an arrow pointing to the "Shared with me" item in the left sidebar.

Once a file is shared with you, it’ll show up in this view accessed by the Shared with me section. This section fills up as more folders and files are shared with you. You can use this section to quickly find and access this content. The list at the bottom of this view provides information about who shared the document. You can find this in the Shared by and Share date columns:

Google Calendar main view with an arrow pointing to the "Shared by" document owner.