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Google Drive Sharing Settings

Visibility options

Visibility options let you control how people access your files and folders. By default, anything that you create, sync, or upload in Google Drive starts out as private.

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Private:

When you create a private document, you're the only person with access to it. From there, you can give access to other people. Users who are given "Can edit" or "Can comment" access will have to sign in to a Google Account (or sign up for a new one) in order to make any edits or comments.

Private is the best setting for your personal documents, like a list of contacts, or a resumé. It's also a good option if you want to collaborate with a small circle of people. For example, you and a friend or family member could work together on a private letter or taxes.

Anyone with the link:

A document set to Anyone with the link is like an unlisted phone number. Another person can only view it if they have the exact URL of the document, file or folder. If you also select the "Allow anyone to edit" option, anyone with the link will also be able to edit your document. Since sign in isn't required, viewers and editors may show up as anonymous.

Anyone with the link is a great setting if you want to give easy access to information to a bunch of people and the contents of the document aren't sensitive. For example, if you're a college professor and you want to share a syllabus and a book list with your students, you could put that information into a document set to "anyone with the link" and send your students the link.

Public on the web:

Choose Public if you want something to be available to anyone. Public documents and files can show up in search results, and anyone who finds the web address of the document can access it. If you also select the 'Allow anyone to comment' and/or 'Allow anyone to edit' options, anyone who finds the document will also be able to view, comment and edit your document.

Public on the web is a great setting if you're trying to get the word out about something. For example, you could create a flyer for a concert, save it as a public document, and post a link to it on your blog.

Access levels

Google Drive has several different access levels when you share files and folders. If you create, sync, or upload a file, you're the owner of that item (unless you've transferred ownership). There are three levels of access for collaborators: "Can view," "Can comment" (Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations only), and "Can edit."

Owners:

  • Edit Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings

  • Invite more editors, commentators, and viewers

  • Delete files and folders

  • Remove access for any collaborator

  • Transfer ownership to another person

  • Add and remove something from a folder

Editors:

  • Edit Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings

  • Invite or remove other collaborators, if the owner has given editors this permission

  • Download or sync something to another device

  • View the list of other collaborators

  • Make a copy of something to save in Google Drive

  • Add and remove items from a folder

Editors can’t permanently delete a file or folder.

Viewers:

  • View files and folders

  • Download or sync something to another device

  • Make a copy of something to save in Google Drive

Viewers can’t permanently delete a file or folder, nor can they change something’s sharing settings.

Commenters (Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations only)

  • Comment on Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations

  • View documents, spreadsheets, and presentations

  • Download or sync the document, spreadsheet, or presentation to another device

  • Make a copy of a document, spreadsheet, or presentation to save in Google Drive

Commenters can’t permanently delete a file or folder, nor can they change something’s sharing settings.

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