Google Drive Shared Folders

Sharing folders in Google Drive

Shared Folders

Shared folders are useful for a variety of reasons. Shared folders provide limited access to documents and resources. Useful when working with groups.

They are usually edited and updated by a handful of accounts. Over the years I have used shared folders for a variety of projects. I have also used shared folders to share content from professional development sessions. Shared folders are great but they don’t always work well on their own. Shared folders are easily lost in the vastness of shared files and folders. The resources in these folders are often lost because it is difficult to find what you need in folders. Over the years I have accumulated hundreds of documents in dozens of shared folders.

Shared folders work best with small teams and in combination with other resource portals like Google Sites or Google Groups. Let’s create a folder in Drive and share that folder with others. Log into your Google account and go to Drive.

Google Drive application

Google Drive application

Click the New button.

Create new Google Drive document

Create new Google Drive document

Create a new folder.

Create a new folder in Google Drive

Create a new folder in Google Drive

Give the folder a descriptive name and click the Create button. The folder is created and selected for us.

Folder in Google Drive

Folder in Google Drive

Remain in Drive with the folder selected. Click the Share button in the Drive button bar.

Share Google Drive content

Share Google Drive content

The share configuration box opens. The options here are very powerful. They provide lots of basic sharing options. Begin a shared folder by adding collaborators. Collaborators can add and edit content in the folder.

We add collaborators by entering their email address in the People box. The permissions selector on the right is set to provide them with edit access.

Add collaborators with edit access

Add collaborators with edit access

The other option we have at this point is to grant them view-only permission. They will be able to go through the contents of this folder and any folder we create within this folder. They have the option to open any document for viewing, copying, downloading, or sharing. There is more to the viewing option than meets the eye. Sorry, I couldn’t help it. We will learn how to manage these options a little later. We click the Send button to send them an email notification and a link to the shared folder. The shared folder is available in their Drive without having to click the link in the email.

Other permission options for folders

Other permission options for folders

The icon on shared folders updates to include a share icon. Open the folder by double-clicking on it.

Folder share icon

Folder share icon

Another way to share a folder is by clicking the triangle next to the folder name in the path bar. The share option appears in a pull-down menu.

Share from within a folder

Share from within a folder

I’ll invite another account to have access. This account will have view-only access. Teachers often ask what the difference is between sharing with view access and sharing a link with view access. The options are almost the same but there are reasons why you might want to choose one over the other. I’ll click the send button to share the link.

Share with view-only access

Share with view-only access

Click the triangle next to the folder name and select share. Click the Advanced button.

Advanced share

Advanced share

In the advanced section, we have a detailed view of the accounts that have access. We also have a view of the permission for each account.

Accounts with access and permissions

Accounts with access and permissions

Click the permission selector for one of the shared accounts. The permission selector has a few more options now. My account as the creator of the shared folder is the owner. As the owner, I can make another the owner. It is the only account that can make another the owner. The owner account is the only account that can delete the folder. There can only be one owner per shared folder.

Change folder ownership

Change folder ownership

As the owner, I can prevent editors from changing access permissions for other accounts. I can also prevent editors from adding accounts to the shared folder.

Owner control editor permissions

Owner control editor permissions

Any document, file, or folder added to this folder is automatically accessible by the shared members of the folder. This is part of the inheritance nature of working with shared folders. Click the Create button and create a new folder.

New folder in shared folder

New folder in shared folder

The new folder has the same permissions as the parent folder.

New folder with shared permission

New folder with shared permission

Documents and permission

Create a new Google Doc in the folder. Google informs us that the created document will be shared with the same members that have access to the shared folder. Click the Create and Share button to confirm.

New documents will inherit shared permissions

New documents will inherit shared permissions

Documents have additional permission options. Click the Share button on the newly created document.

Document share button

Document share button

Click the Advanced button. Click the permissions selector. There is an option to grant the user permission to comment on the document only. Comment permission allows the account to provide feedback on the document without modifying the document. This permission change applies only to the document. It does not change the account’s permission to other folders or documents in the folder. This is part of the nuance I spoke about earlier. We could also choose to make this account the owner of the document. The account holder would own this document but the rest of the permissions in the folders and other documents will remain the same.

Permissions within folders are inherited. Just like we inherit genes from our biological parents. Files in folders can have their own set of permissions that are different from the parent folder. This is similar to how we are similar and different from our parents.

Document inherited permissions

Document inherited permissions

There is another option available in shared documents. Owners and editors have the option to prevent commenters and viewers from downloading, printing, or copying the document. This option is useful if we don’t want old copies of documents to be circulating.

Limit view permission options

Limit view permission options

There are many powerful features in shared documents. They are flexible and provide opportunities to share content with teams.

Donec id justo non metus auctor commodo ut quis enim. Mauris fringilla dolor vel condimentum imperdiet.
— Jonathan L.