How to Share Files on Google Drive (With Your Team or Your Clients)

Google Drive: File Storage and Sharing Made Easy

We use Google Drive to draft new blog posts, take meeting notes, share information with clients and more. A majority of our clients also prefer Drive to other file storage systems. There are several reasons why, but Google Drive is just fast, simple, and secure.

If you’re not already using Drive, here are a few more reasons why you should:

  • Access files on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
  • Everything auto-saves in the cloud – no need to worry about missing copies or forgetting to save.
  • Google gives you 15GB of storage for free, with room for expansion at a monthly rate.
  • You can control who views or edits your documents.
  • Real-time collaboration with other people.
  • Google Drive Apps – Modify Drive with apps and sign documents, draw a chart or create a form.

While there are hundreds of topics we can cover on G Suite, in this post, we’ll focus on how to share files on Google Drive.

How to Share Files on Google Drive

First, you need a Google account. Head to Google’s Sign Up page to make a Gmail account. If your business already has Gmail, you’ll likely also have a Drive directory already set up. Every user starts off with 15GB of free storage but can expand to 100GB or 1TB for $1.99 or $9.99 a month respectively.

1) Select the level of access

Once you start a document, there are three levels of access you can grant any file or folder: Can edit, Can comment, or Can view.

“Can Edit” user can:

  • Make changes to the contents or the title of the document
  • Share with other users
  • Comment on files
  • Save or download the file to a personal account

“Can Comment” users can:

  • Suggest edits as highlighted changes that can be approved or rejected
  • Comment on files
  • Save or download the file to a personal account

“Can View” users can:

  • Read the document
  • Save or download the file to a personal account.

Once a person is given access to a file, they may also be changed from a viewer or editor to an owner of the file.

“Is Owner” user is the only one who can:

  • Delete and recover the document (This option appears only after they are granted initial access)
  • Disable download/print/copy options and Prevent editors from changing access or adding new people

2) Share an email invite or a URL link

There are two ways to share your document: add each authorized user’s email in the box after hitting share, or copy a link that can be forwarded and opened by anyone who has the link.

Link Sharing

Share with others window in Google Drive with two red arrows pointing at the copy link and the get shareable link buttons

Links should only be used for quick sharing of non-confidential or non-sensitive information. Assume that anyone with a link might accidentally forward it to the wrong person and that a total stranger might be able to read it. If you want to avoid this, you can set specific access to people who have the link.

Drop down box in Google Drive asking permission to share with other people

If you hit the “More…” section in the viewer access drop down, it’ll bring up a list of more options for link sharing, like only allowing people from your organization to see it, or needing access and the link to access the document.

Link sharing window in Google Drive showing different options for sharing

NOTE: Setting link sharing to “On – Public on the web” will set the document to be discoverable in Google’s search engine. Make sure this is what you want to do before saving with this setting.

Email Invites

Email invites are more secure as you retain control over who can access your document and what each person has access to do. After adding the recipient’s email, you can include a note to give that user some notice about an action they need to take, or a description of what the document is for.

Once you confirm the recipients, an email is sent to let them know you have shared a document with them.

3) Work on the same file at the same time

Our favorite feature of Google Drive? Real-time collaboration on Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. You don’t have to send ten different versions of the same file back and forth. One person can write a document in Los Angeles and someone in Tokyo can be on at the same time and see their edits as they make them.

Even if they’re not on at the same time, two people or a team can still see each other’s edits with the “suggesting” feature in the top right. You can add comments, accept or reject changes, and even revert back to previous versions all the way to the beginning.

You can set the mode in the top right between:

  • Editing – making direct changes to the document
  • Suggesting – highlight, strikeout, change letters, and editors can accept or reject with check or a crosss button.
  • Viewing – read or print access to the document.

Using and Sharing Files in Your Organization’s Google Drive

This only scratches the surface for what you can do with Drive. You can modify it to include your brand’s document templates, or with HelloSign you can get people to sign proposals and other documents. If your team relies on publishing a lot of written content, Google Drive makes it easy to keep track of your history as well as communicating with your teammates.

Stay tuned for more advice on how your business can stay relevant and efficient after digital transformation. Follow our blog here.