Shortcuts replacing items stored in multiple locations

We’re replacing files and folders stored in multiple folders in Google Drive with shortcuts. In the past, users could put items in different locations, causing multiple parent folders and confusion.

How will the replacement work?

When items are replaced with shortcuts:

  • We remove all but one location for items that are currently in multiple locations and replace the removed items with shortcuts.
  • The replacement decision will be based on original file and folder ownership, and will also consider access and activity on all other folders to ensure the least possible disruption for collaboration.
  • The replacement process won’t change the ownership or sharing permissions for files and folders.
  • The process is automatic and doesn’t require any actions from you or your users.

There is a record of the events when Drive moves items and creates shortcuts in the Drive log events.

When will content be replaced?

All Google Workspace organizations will go through the replacement process. A few weeks before we replace items with shortcuts, we’ll send an email to administrators and show banners in Drive for all users. Before the replacement, as an admin, you can control when to create shortcuts in shared folders. After the replacement, users can move an item to a new location or add a shortcut in a new location.

Control when to create shortcuts in a shared folder

These options apply only in folders where there are users with access to the folder but who do not have access to all files within the folder.

Important: You can only specify an option before the replacement process. 

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenDrive and Docs.
  3. Click Upcoming changes to My Drive.
  4. For Manage shortcut creation, choose an option. For more information about these options, see What do the options mean? below.
    • Always create shortcuts—Everyone with access to a shared folder gets shortcuts in that folder.
    • Create shortcuts only for content shared within yourdomain.com and trusted domains—Only users from your organization and trusted domains get shortcuts in a shared folder.
    • Create shortcuts only for content shared within yourdomain.com—Only users in your organization get shortcuts in a shared folder.
    • Don't create shortcuts—Don’t create shortcuts for items in shared folders where access permissions vary.

    Users that didn't have access to an item can't open it, even if they have the shortcut.

  5. Click Save.

What do the options mean?

Setting name What it does Considerations for IT admins
Always create shortcuts Shortcuts are always created in shared folders. This option (default) is the most open for collaboration because existing folder hierarchies will be preserved. However, for privacy-conscious organizations, this may not be preferred, as all users with access to the shared folder can see the names of the files, even if they don’t have access to the file.
Create shortcuts only for content shared within yourdomain.com and trusted domains Shortcuts will not be created for files currently not visible to users outside of your domain or trusted domain, if the folder is shared with those users.  This option is preferred to organizations that want to keep the organizational structure of their shared folders intact for users in their domain and trusted domains.
Create shortcuts only for content shared within yourdomain.com Similar to the option above, shortcuts will not be created for files currently not visible to users outside of your domain, if the folder is shared with those users. This option is preferred to organizations that want to keep the organizational structure of their shared folders intact for users in their domain, and who are not sharing files with other trusted domains.
Don't create shortcuts A shortcut will not be created for files that are not visible to everyone who has access to the shared folder.

This option can be disruptive to users because it will appear to users who previously had access to all of the files in these folders that some files are gone. The files still exist, but the users may need to search for them or browse through other folder hierarchies to find them.

While potentially disruptive to users, this option is preferred by organizations with data privacy concerns because it eliminates those who do not have access to files from seeing them listed in a shared folder.

How the does replacement affect access and visibility to items?

  • Users who had access to an item before the replacement can still access it after the items are replaced with shortcuts. 
  • Anyone with access to a folder will get shortcuts in the folder, even if they don’t have access to the individual item in the folder. However, you can control when to create shortcuts using the settings above. See the table above for items to consider before applying settings.
  • Users that didn’t have access to an item can’t open it, even if they have the shortcut.
  • If you choose to create shortcuts only for your domain or trusted domains, external users might get shortcuts to files that they previously haven’t had. For example, if a folder was shared with a group that has an external user or if a parent folder was shared with an external user, that user might see shortcuts for items that weren’t shared directly with them.
  • If a user changes a folder's access permissions at the same time that the replacement process happens, the replacement process takes precedence. Any access changes for items that now have shortcuts in that folder might not be fully implemented.

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