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Google Drive file sharing

When you upload files to the "My Drive" portion of Google Drive, you are the owner by default and only you have access to the files. You can share these files with collaborators either on or off campus. To share with individuals off campus they either need to have a Google account you can share with, or you will need to use Link Sharing. Please make sure to read the section on Link Sharing below if you plan to use it.

Sharing Settings

Different ways to share

  • Right-click on a file or folder in your Drive and choose "Share"
  • Click the "Share" button at the top-right of a Google file while it's open in your browser

Adding collaborators

  1. Select "Share" for a folder or file
  2. On the next screen, add the email addresses of your collaborators - Swarthmore addresses will auto-complete as you type them, external email addresses will not.
  3. You can give each collaborator edit permissions to the file or View only permissions as you add them.
  4. If the "Notify people" box is checked, a default Google email with a link to the file or folder will be sent automatically. 
    1. If you uncheck the box, you can send the link manually (more on this below).
  5. There are more options if you click "Advanced" at the bottom-right of the share window


Link sharing

The best way to ensure confidentiality on a file is to only grant permissions to your direct collaborators. Sometimes you may need a document to be accessible to more people - especially if they do not have a Google account to use for direct collaboration. 

Link share settings and tips

  • With the Share window open, you can click "Get shareable link" at the top-right of the window
  • The share link will appear at the top of the window and the link icon will turn green
  • "Anyone at Swarthmore.edu with the link can view" will be set as the permissions by default
  • To change the permissions, click on downward facing arrow
  • To keep things restricted to Swarthmore.edu users only (or to turn link sharing OFF), choose one of the permissions options listed
  • To allow others outside of Swarthmore permissions to your file, click "More..." to see the below options
    • Public on the Web - NOT recommended, allows your file to be searchable via Google search engine for anyone
    • Anyone with the link - Needed if you have to share with someone who does not have a Google account/email. People will only see the file if they have the link for the file
    • Swarthmore.edu - This allows anyone at Swarthmore to be able to search for this file/folder
    • Anyone at Swarthmore.edu with the link - This restricts the file to Swarthmore users, and only those users with the link to the file/folder can see it
    • Specific people - This turns link sharing OFF. Any individuals that you added using their email addresses will still have access to the file/folder
  • After you choose WHO can see your file or folder, click the "Can view" option and set WHAT they can do
    • Choose from "Can edit", "Can comment", or "Can View"
  • Click "Save"

Any users who have access to the link are free to send that link to someone else, so make sure this is the option you need before turning on Link Sharing. If you think you may have turned it on by accident and don't want it on, open the Share window for the file or folder in question - if the link icon is green, then link sharing is ON.


Sending links without turning on Link Sharing

Every Google file is given a distinct and individual URL or link. If it's easier to show a collaborator a file by sending them a link to it - like helping them find a file that is a few subfolders deep in the file structure - you can absolutely do that without turning link sharing on. If you have the file open, just copy the link from the address bar of your browser. You can also right-click on a file or folder and choose "Get shareable link" - this option only copies the link, and does not turn link sharing on.


Google Drive Folder Sharing Notifications

Google Drive allows users to email collaborators from a specific file but not for a folder.  Folders only allow you to send notifications on new shares and doesn't provide an easy way to export an existing permissions list, especially if the collaborator list is long.

Recommended workaround:

  1. Within the shared Folder in question, create a Google Doc file with the same sharing permissions as the containing Folder. The file should inherit permissions of the folder automatically.

  2. Name the Google Doc something helpful like "Folder Collaborator Notice."

  3. From the containing Folder properties (right-click menu, "Get link"), get the "share link" and paste it into the Doc (yields a clean look to make this link the only line in the Doc).

  4. Within the Google Doc, pick "File/Email collaborators"

  5. Edit the Send Message dialogue as needed then send it. (For the clean look mentioned in 3, pick "Paste the item itself into the email") You probably want to check the box to send a copy to yourself as well.

  6. Save the Google Doc (in that containing Folder) for future and/or repeated use.