One of the most powerful aspects of Google Drive is the ability to share documents, spreadsheets, forms, and presentations with other individuals and collaboratively edit those documents together in real-time from anywhere in the world. Collaborators on a document can view, comment on, or even make changes to the document, depending on the permissions you give them. There’s seldom a reason to email document attachments or merge edits from multiple copies of a document again.
Creating/Uploading Files or Folders in Google Drive
Creating and uploading is both accomplished through the big red New button. Click on any thumbnail below to see a slideshow of the basic process:
Sharing with Google Drive
So you want to share a bunch of documents and resources with your department or school? No problem.
- Log into Google Drive with your District Google account. Please use your district-supplied Google account, rather than a personal Google account for any school-related Google Drive or Google service use. Contact Andy Moore if you have difficulty logging into your District Google account.
- Create a new folder in Google Drive and name it appropriately (English Department, Berkowitz Shared, etc.).
- Go to share menu (see screenshots below) and give read or read/write privs (Always give the least amount of privileges necessary! If they only need “read” only give them read!) to the users (remember that school email addresses are also school Google accounts) and leave them a note in the provided share box. See Collaborator Options below for more information on sharing permissions.
- Send the notification when you are set. This will send word and a link to the people you have invited. If you have shared a folder, the default action is that anything added to this folder will also have the same permissions, so anything new you add to the shared folder will be shared with read or read/write privs with the people you entered for the share.
- If everyone has read/write privs, everyone can then add/edit all materials in the shared folder. If someone has shared something with you, you should be able to see this in your “shared with me folder” in Google Drive.
- Please note that you can do the same thing with individual files (as opposed to folders), so you can certainly share one file at a time when/if necessary. An advantage to specifically sharing an individual file is that it will still be shared if it is moved from the folder, whereas a file in a shared folder will lose its shared permissions if it is moved from the shared folder.
- Always be careful moving around shared files and folders!
- Boom! Collaboration. Problems? Ask Andy Moore for help.
Click any thumbnail to see a slideshow:
Sharing with a link
You can easily share a file with a larger group of people by providing a link to any file in your Google Drive. A link is basically a URL or web address for any file you want to share. This can be especially helpful for files that would be too large to send as an email attachment, like music or video files. You can also share a file by posting the link to a public webpage. Anyone who clicks the link will be redirected to the file.
There are four Collaborator Options which give the specific people you share a Google Doc with differing levels of access to the document. The document owner can enable other individuals to view, to comment on, to edit, or to become the owner of the document.
To view the Collaborator Options, select the Share button at the top right of your document. In the Share Settings menu, invite specific individuals or groups using email addresses or email contact groups. White entering these addresses, the Collaborator Options become visible. Here, you can select from the following options: Can edit, can comment, or can view.
1. Can edit—This Collaborator Option allows other individuals to edit the document. Collaborators can work in a document simultaneously in real-time, so there is no need to email changes back and forth. Each editor who is working in the document will be visible as icons at the top right of the screen, next to the Comments button. Each collaborator will have a different color around their icon, and whichever section of the document they are currently editing will also have a cursor the same color as the icon.
2. Can comment—With this Collaborator Option, an individual the document is shared with would be able to see the document and make comments, but would not be able to change the document in any way. This option is helpful when looking for feedback on a project, but do not want any information to be altered without your knowledge.
To comment on a document, highlight the specific text you wish to comment on and right click to select “Comment”. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Alt-M, or the Comment button at the top-right of the screen next to Share. The owner of the document will see the highlighted sections and the comment boxes on the right side of their screen.
3. Can view—To allow others to only see a document, select the Can View option. This option is especially useful to distribute a template that needs to be used by others. By setting the Collaborator Option to Can View, you’ll be forced to “Make a Copy” of the document in order to make changes, thus ensuring that no one be able to alter the template.
A fourth Collaborator Option, is Owner, is only available once you have already shared a document with someone else. After the document is shared, the person’s name will appear on the Who has access list on the Sharing Settings menu. This last Collaborator Option allows your to transfer ownership of the document to someone else. The creator of the document is the owner by default. If ownership of the document is transferred to someone else, there are some things that the document creator will no longer be able to do.
- Remove collaborators
- Share with as many people as you like
- Change visibility options
- Allow collaborators to change access privileges for others
- Permanently delete something from Google Drive. After it’s deleted, no one can access it, including those it was shared with.
Please also see the Advanced Sharing options:
Advanced Sharing Options
- Go to drive.google.com.
- Select a file or folder.
- At the top, click the share icon .
- In the bottom right, click Advanced.
- Next to “Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people,” notice the option to check the box. Notice also the “Disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers.”
- Click Save changes.
- Note that you can also change these settings from the share button within an open document.
Files shared with you
People can also choose to share files with you. These files will appear in your Shared with Me folder. However, if you’d prefer to access a file from your Google Drive without switching to this view, you can add it to your drive. To do this, navigate to your Shared with Me folder, hover the mouse over the desired file, then select Add to My Drive.
You can also make a copy of any file shared with you by selecting the file and either going to the more actions menu and clicking on “make a copy,” or right clicking on the file and selecting “make a copy.” Making a copy is a good move if you’re concerned about making changes to a shared document, but your changes to the copy, of course, will not be shared back to other collaborators.
Shared with Me only lists files and folders that are specifically shared with you, that is, files and folders that the owner has added your email address to in the Share settings. Files that are set to “Anyone with the link” or “Anyone in your organization” are not included.
If you want to sync a file or folder in Shared with Me to your local computer, or if you want to upload items to it, you need to add it to My Drive. This process is very simple:
- Log into Google Drive and click Shared with Me.
- Select the files or folders you want to add by clicking the box next to the name.
- Click the Add to My Drive button.
When working with shared files and folders, it is important to remember to use the Add to My Drive button instead of dragging the file/folder to My Drive. Using the Add button does just that: it adds the item to your drive without changing the location of the file or folder for other users. Dragging the item moves it for everyone and some users may lose access. If you attempt to add something to your drive and see a pop-up warning that you are moving the item, take heed and do not continue unless you are sure that you want to move it out of the shared area.
If you are looking for a file or folder you have shared with someone else and can no longer find it, click on the information icon (the small i in a circle) on the upper right of your drive to see recent activity. You can see which items have been moved, removed (trashed), renamed, shared/unshared, edited, and more, so it may help you locate what you are looking for.
Starred Files of Folders
An easy way to access your commonly-used files or folders is to add a star to them. You can add a star by right clicking (option click on Mac) a file or folder and “adding a star” from the menu. You can also select a file or folder and go to the three vertical dots (more actions) menu and “adding a star.” Once you have added a star to a file or folder, they will show up in the starred category, so you can just click on this category to access them instead of searching for them directly.
Converting Microsoft Office or PDF Files
Google Drive can store any kind of file, but it only allows collaborative editing on Google files (docs, sheets, slides, drawing, forms, etc.). In order to collaboratively edit a Microsoft Word document, for example, you would upload the Word file and convert it to a Google Docs file. You could also, of course, start with a Google Docs file from the beginning, rather than needing to convert. Google files can all be downloaded as their respective Microsoft Office format (doc, xls, ppt, etc.) or as pdfs.