You’ve created a file in Google Drive that you want to share with other people. No problem. One of the software’s strong points is its ability to play nice with others.
In fact, there are so many ways to share Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides that the process can be confusing. Do you want other people to be able to edit your file or just view it? Do you need to give them access to the live or static version of the document? Your sharing options will vary depending on the answers to those questions.
Google Drive consists of several programs, including Docs for word processing, Sheets for spreadsheets, and Slides for presentations. The process for sharing within each program is pretty similar; below we’ll focus on Google Docs.
You can access Google Docs a couple of ways: the Google Docs website in your browser; the Google Backup and Sync program on your computer; or the Google Docs apps for iOS or Android. This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.
Share a Live Document
You’ve just created and completed a document and now want to share it. In this case, you’d like to share the live document with one or more people. Click on the Share button in the upper-right corner (or click on the File menu and select Share).
Type in a Google contact or the email address of the person with whom you want to share the file; you can share a file with up to 200 people or groups. Click on the drop-down arrow and choose whether you want the person or people to be able to edit the document, insert comments in it, or only view it. You can also add a note to the email invitation. Click Send.
If the person has a Google account, your email is sent. If your recipient doesn’t have a Google account, you’re presented with two options. You can send an invitation, in which case the person has 14 days to sign in with a Google account to edit, comment in, or view the document.
Alternatively, you can create and send a link to your document, in which case your recipient can view the document without a Google account but not edit or comment in it.
Receiving an Invitation
On the other end, your recipient opens your email and clicks on the button to Open in Docs. If the person has a Google account, he or she is prompted to sign into it to edit, comment in, or view your document in Google Docs.
If the person doesn’t have a Google account and you chose the option to send the link, the document opens in Google Docs where the person can read it but not comment in or edit it. That person cannot request comment or edit access unless he or she has a Google account.
If the person has a Google account and accesses the document with permission to edit it, he or she can click on the button that says Editing in the upper-right corner and change the option to either Suggesting or Viewing. If the person accesses the document with permission to comment in it, he or she can click on the button that says Suggesting and change the option to Viewing.
Get Shareable Link
To distribute a direct link to the doc instead of sending invitations, click on the Share button again and then click on the option to “Get shareable link.” This option is handy if you want to share the document with multiple people at any time, like dropping it into a Slack channel.
Click on the drop-down menu for “Anyone with the link can…” in order to choose the proper permissions. Here, you can give recipients the ability to edit, comment, or view.
Copy Sharing Link
Click on the button to Copy link. You can now paste the link into another application in order to share the document. Recipients only need to click the link to gain access to the document, but again, they’ll need to sign in with a Google account within 14 days in order to edit or comment.
No Google Login
What if you want people to be able to edit or comment in the document without having to sign into Google? Click on the Share button again. Click on the drop-down menu for “Anyone with the link can…” and click More.
Link Share Options
You can now play with three options for Link Sharing. The first option for Public on the Web allows anyone to access your document on the Web via the right link. You can set permissions in order to limit other users to edit, comment, or simply view the document. Depending on what permissions you choose, recipients can actually edit, comment, or view the document without having to sign into Google.
The second option for Anyone with the link allows people to access your document if they know its URL. This option is a little more secure than the first, depending on how much you anticipate the link being shared.
The third option for Off disables Link Sharing so only people that you directly invite can access the document.
Advanced Sharing Options
Next, how can you more easily share the link to your document or remove sharing altogether? Click on the link for Advanced.
Sharing and Permissions Options
Here, you can share the link via Gmail, Google+ (for now), Facebook, or Twitter. You can revise the permissions for anyone you have shared the file with or remove any person from the file sharing completely. You can also check an option to prevent editors from changing access and adding new people, and disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers.
Publish to the Web
We’re not done yet. There are more sharing tricks up Google’s sleeve. Click on the File menu and select Publish to the Web.
Setting Up to Publish
At the Publish to the web window, click on the down arrow for Published content & settings. You can decide if you want your public document to be updated each time you make a change. By default, your document will be published as its own dedicated webpage. Click on Publish and answer yes when Google asks if you’re sure.
You can also choose to embed the document, if you want to generate code that allows you to embed it within an existing webpage. You then copy the embedded code.
Your document is published as a webpage accessible to anyone who has the link.
To turn off the document as a webpage, click on the button that says Stop publishing.
Email as Attachment
Finally, you can email your document in any one of a number of formats. Click on the File menu and select Email as attachment.
Change File Format
At the Email as attachment window, click on the drop-down menu for Attach as. You can opt to send your document as a PDF, Word document, Rich Text File, HTML page, Plain Text file, or Open Document. You can also choose to insert the document within the email itself.