Shared drives access levels

Supported editions for this feature: Business Standard and Plus; Enterprise; Education and Enterprise for Education; Nonprofits; G Suite Business; Essentials.  Compare your edition

The actions you can take on shared drives and their files depend on your access level for the shared drive, your subscription type, and your administrator privileges.

File and folder-level tasks

To work with files on shared drives, users must have the appropriate access levels.

Task Access level
  Manager Content manager* Contributor** Commenter Viewer
View shared drives, files, and folders
Comment on files in shared drives
Make, approve, and reject edits in files
Create and upload files and create folders in shared drives
Add people and groups to specific files in shared drives
Add people and groups to specific folders in shared drives
Move files and folders within a shared drive
Move files and folders from one shared drive to another shared drive
Move shared drive files and folders into the trash
Permanently delete files and folders in the trash
Restore files and folders from trash (up to 30 days)

* Default role for new members.

** Contributor access provides read-only access to files in Drive File Stream or files in the Chrome OS Files app. For example, if you share an Excel file in a shared drive with a user who opens the file in File Stream, the user can only view and not edit the file. To allow users to edit files in a shared drive in File Stream and Chrome OS, give the user Content manager or Manager access to the shared drive.

Requests for access to files in shared drives go to the file creator if they still have edit access to the file, whether or not they are a member of the shared drive. Managers will receive the request instead of the file creator when the creator no longer has edit permissions to the file.

Google account needed to become a member of a shared drive.—You can share files and folders with visitors without Google accounts by following these instructions. To be a member of a shared drive, an invited user must have an email address associated with a Google account. 

Drive-level tasks

Task Access level
  Manager Content manager* Contributor** Commenter Viewer
Add or remove people to or from shared drives
Delete a shared drive

User privileges for Business Starter and G Suite Basic

Shared drive privileges for Business Starter and G Suite Basic users depend on whether the shared drive is located inside or outside their organization.

Access to shared drives inside an organization

In a mixed license organization, Business Starter and G Suite Basic users can only view files in their organization's shared drives, unless those files are shared with them directly. For example, a Business Starter user at can't edit or comment on shared drive files created by a Business Plus user at

Access to shared drives outside an organization

Business Starter and G Suite Basic users who are outside an organization are allowed to manage shared drives in that organization if they have the appropriate access levels. For example, a Business Starter user at with Manager access can manage shared drives from
Note: Depending on your organization's sharing permissions, you can share files directly with Business Starter and G Suite Basic users to let them view, comment on, or edit files. Learn how to control sharing of shared drives content.

Administrator privileges

An administrator with the Drive and Docs Settings privilege can perform all of the following shared drive management tasks in your organization:

  • Turn shared drive creation on or off for your organization. Learn more
  • View and manage the shared drives in your organization. Learn more
  • Add and remove the people who can access a particular shared drive. Learn more
  • Control sharing of shared drives content. Learn more
  • Migrate content to a shared drive. Learn more
Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?

Need more help?

Sign in for additional support options to quickly solve your issue