Moving content from Drive shared folders

Here's what happens when users move items from a shared folder, and actions your organization might want to take.

Important: Shared folders are different from shared drives. Consider using shared drives in your organization instead of simply sharing folders. This article does not describe moving content to or from shared drives. 

To learn how to move a file or folder in My Drive, see Organize your files in Google Drive

Moving a file or folder from a shared folder into My Drive is a move and not a copy, so the moved content is removed from the shared folder. As a result:

  • Users will no longer see the moved files or folders in the shared folder.
  • Any permissions on the moved content that were inherited from the shared folder will be removed, and new permissions will be inherited from the destination folder (together with permissions explicitly set on a file or folder).

To move files or folders from a shared folder to My Drive:

  • Make sure to share the item with Edit access.
  • Enable the Editors can change permissions and share setting for the file or folder.

Note: If you move folders with a lot of files or subfolders, it might take some time to move all the items to the new location.

  1. A file has been shared with users A and B.
    Users A and B have access to the file, regardless of its location.
  2. The file is stored in folder X, which has been shared with users A and C.
    Users A, B, and C have access to the file.
  3. The file is moved to folder Y, which has been shared with user D.
    Users A, B and D have access to the file, but user C no longer sees it in folder X and no longer has access to the file.
Notifications when moving files

When a user moves a file from a shared folder to My Drive, the user sees a warning before the move takes effect. This helps reduce the risk of a user accidentally moving files and removing access from other users.

If the user proceeds with the move, they will see another message notifying them of the change and giving them a chance to undo it.

In addition, users can track activity for files and folders in My Drive to see the history of changes that have taken place, including notices when files are moved. This means if you share a folder from My Drive and someone moves an item out of the shared folder, you can see a notice in the activity history that the file was removed. The notice also tells you who moved the file, and when.

What should your organization do?

If your organization doesn’t have an extensive shared folder structure, you might not need to do anything.

Organizations that use shared folders extensively have dealt with this in different ways. The best solution depends on your specific scenario.

  • Consider using shared drives in your organization instead of sharing folders. Learn about shared drives.

  • Lock down your shared folders to 'Can view' access only. If a user only has view access to a folder, they can’t remove or add files to it. This is the safest way to ensure someone doesn’t add or remove content from a shared folder. However, it means you'd need to develop a business process to identify people with the Can edit sharing setting for a shared folder. Alternatively, you might want to educate your users to be careful about granting edit access to shared folders.

  • Don’t move files or folders to My Drive that are already in a folder. Doing so will remove it from the folder. To avoid having content removed from shared folders, you might instruct your users to not move anything from Shared with Me to My Drive if it's already in a folder.

    If you see a folder name to the right of a file in the Shared with Me view, the file is in a folder.

    Shared with Me is not a folder, so you can safely move a top-level item from Shared with Me to My Drive and it won't affect anyone else (as you're not moving anything out of a folder). However, if you click into a folder in Shared with Me and then drag an item from the folder into My Drive, that item will no longer be in the folder (for you or anyone else).

    To prevent users from accidentally moving a shared folder, some companies have instructed their users to never drag a file into My Drive.

  • Add shortcuts instead of moving files. Train your users to add shortcuts wherever they want to access a file from another folder. Refer them to Create a shortcut for a file or folder and Find files & folders with Google Drive shortcuts.

Tip: If an item shows up in your My Drive root that previously wasn't there, go to Find a file you don't think you deleted, and read the information under "How files lose their folder." 

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