Google Drive Quick Tip #10

There is no better Google Drive feature with which to close out this series than its sharing feature. You can very easily share folders and/or files with anyone. What I will show you here are the basic steps for sharing a folder and sharing a file, but you should take a few minutes to check out Google's more detailed description of this feature.

1. Who Can Access?

The first thing you must do before sharing the folder or file is to decide to whom you will grant access. The three basic options are:

  • public on the Web—this means anyone can access the file or folder on the Internet through search results or the Web address without needing to log into a Google account first.
  • anyone with the link—this means anyone who is given the link to the file or folder can access it without needing to log into a Google account first
  • private—this means only you have access to the file unless and until you share it with specific people, and you and any person with whom you share the folder or file must log into a Google account

If you are part of an organization (e.g., a university) that has adopted Google Apps for use across the enterprise, a fourth option becomes available:

  • anyone at [organization name] with the link—this means anyone at your organization can access the folder or file if you give them the link and if they are logged into the Google account associated with the organization

2. How Much Access?

Next, you need to decide what level of permission you want give to those with whom you are sharing. Google has simplified this for you by giving you two basic options for folders and three basic options for files.

Folders

When you share a folder, you only have two options:

  • Can edit—this means a person can
    • view files and folders
    • download or sync files to another device
    • make a copy of files to save in her or his own Google Drive
    • comment and suggest edits in files
    • edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings
    • share or unshare files with others (this can be changed, however)
    • add or remove files from a folder
    • upload and delete file versions
  • Can view— this means a person can
    • view files and folders
    • download or sync files to another device
    • make a copy of files to save in her or his own Google Drive

Files

When you share a file there are three options:

  • Can edit—this means a person can
    • view files
    • download or sync files to another device
    • make a copy of files to save in her or his own Google Drive
    • leave comments with the commenting tool
    • suggest edits (in suggestion mode)
    • edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings
    • share or unshare files with others (this can be changed, however)
    • add or remove files from a folder
    • upload and delete file versions
  • Can comment—this means a person can
    • view files
    • download or sync files to another device
    • make a copy of files to save in her or his own Google Drive
    • leave comments with the commenting tool
    • suggest edits (in suggestion mode)
  • Can view—this means a person can
    • view files
    • download or sync files to another device
    • make a copy of files to save in her or his own Google Drive

A Scenario

Suppose you're on a team that is responsible for writing weekly blog posts for your organization. You've decided to split up the work among the five members of the team, but you want each member to look at the text of each entry before it is posted to the live site. You can use Google Drive and Docs to accomplish this quite easily. Here's how I would envision it working:

First, the team leader could create a folder on her/his Google Drive and then share it with the other team members, giving each edit access. This would allow each team member to create a doc for each post they're responsible for writing while also giving the other team members edit access to those docs.

But, let's say that, although the folder itself should have edit access for all, each document should only allow comment access to everyone in the team except the author. In that case, when the author creates the Google doc in the shared folder, she/he should click the "share" button in the top right corner of the doc to open the sharing settings dialogue box. Then, she/he should click the "advanced" link in the bottom right corner of the sharing settings box; this will display all of the people with whom the doc is shared (all the people with edit access of the folder). From there, she/he can set each person's privileges to "Can comment."


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