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Best practices and tips for shared drives

Google Workspace productivity guide

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Create a shared drive for each project or team

Give each shared drive a clear focus or purpose. If the files are for a variety of projects or spread across several different teams, create multiple shared drives. This approach also helps you define member access based on that purpose. For example:

  • If the shared drive is an active space for collaboration, give members Content manager access or Contributor access so they can update content.
  • If the shared drive is a repository for a completed project or final content, give members Commenter or Viewer access so content can’t be changed. You might also want to change the shared drive name to indicate its status, such as [Archive] or [Reference].

If there’s disagreement about organization, there may be too many projects and teams using the shared drive. You might reorganize the shared drive into 2–3 new ones:

  • One shared drive solely containing the “shared” content, representing a cross-functional project team
  • One (or more) shared drives for the specific content for each of the functional teams

Learn how at the Google Drive Help Center

 

 

Share content responsibly

For people or groups who need access to all the files and folders in a shared drive, add them as members with the appropriate access level. If possible, give collaborators Manager or Content manager access so they aren’t limited in how they work together in the shared drive.

  • Support collaborators on Google Drive for desktop–If your collaborators use Drive for desktop to access non-Google files (such as an Adobe PDF or Microsoft Office file), give them Content manager access.

    Note: Members with Contributor access can still make edits offline on their desktop and then upload updated versions without Drive for desktop. Refer to See changes in Drive files and folders.

  • Use separate shared drives to control access–In some cases, you might want to have more than one shared drive for the same project if you have distinct groups of collaborators with different access needs. For example, if you’re working on a project with an external agency. Create a shared drive for internal team members and a separate shared drive for internal and external collaborators. This way, you can prevent external members from accessing internal-only content.
  • Use file sharing for limited access–If someone needs access to only a certain file or folder in a shared drive, you can share only that item rather than making them a member. Only Managers can share folders in shared drives.
Learn how

Add a member and set their access level

Requires Manager access

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. In the left column, click Shared drives and double-click one of your shared drives.
  3. At the top, click Manage members.
  4. Add names, email addresses, or a Google Group.
    • By default, new members will be Content managers. They can upload, edit, move, or delete all files.
  5. To change the role for a new member, select a role from the dropdown.
  6. To choose to notify new members of their access, click Notify people.
  7. Click Send.
To move folders between shared drives, contact your administrator.

Share a file

  1. Select the file you want to share.
  2. Click Share or Share Share.
  3. Enter the email address or Google group you want to share with.
  4. To decide what role people will have on your file, select Viewer, Commenter, or Editor.
  5. If your account is eligible, you can add an expiration date for access.
  6. Choose to notify people.
    • If you want to notify people that you shared an item with them, check the box next to Notify people. If you notify people, each email address you enter will be included in the email.
    • If you don't want to notify people, uncheck the box.
  7. Click Send or Share.

Learn more at the Google Drive Help Center

 

 

Manage membership with groups

Groups can make shared drive membership easier to manage, because when someone is added to a group, they get membership to the shared drives the group is a member of. This approach has 2 main benefits:

  • New group members get the same access to files and folders in shared drives as existing group members. You don’t have to worry whether they have access or not.
  • It increases your shared drive membership capacity. If you add shared drive members individually, you can add only 600 people. Using groups, you can add up to 100 groups and up to 50,000 people.

Add members to a team drive.

Learn how

Requires Manager access to add members

  1. Open Google Drive.
  2. On the left, click Shared drives.
  3. At the top, click New .
  4. Enter a descriptive name and click Create.
  5. At the top, click the name of your shared driveand thenManage members.
  6. Add the Google Group name and choose a permission for all members.
  7. To notify people, click Send. Or, deselect Notify people and click Share.

Learn more at the Google Drive Help Center

 

 

Use naming conventions in shared drives

To help people find shared drives and avoid naming conflicts in shared drives, agree on organization-wide naming conventions. For example:

  • Your company has sales divisions in different regions and you create a shared drive for each sales region. To differentiate the shared drives, prefix them with the region or an abbreviation of the region.
  • You can indicate status by adding a prefix, such as [Archive] to a project that’s no longer active or [In Progress] to a project that’s active.
  • To distinguish between shared drives that are shared externally and internally, add the prefix [External] or [Internal].
Learn how

Create and name a shared drive

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. On the left, click Shared drives.
  3. At the top left, click New.
  4. Enter a name for the shared drive.
  5. Click Create.
Create a shared drive.

Learn more at the Google Drive Help Center

 

 

See only the shared drives you want

Over time, you might be added to several shared drives. You can hide a shared drive that’s part of a completed project or if you want to prioritize other shared drives. If you do, you still have access to it and your permissions don’t change. You can unhide a shared drive at any time.

Examples

  • You’re a member of a shared drive that was created for a project, but the work is complete and you don’t need to see the shared drive anymore. 
  • You’ve been added to lots of shared drives, but you only use some of them, so you want to make them easier to find.
  • You’re a member of a shared drive, but the content isn’t relevant to your work.
  • You hid a shared drive that you didn’t need, but you want to be able to see it again.
  • You want to find content in a shared drive after you’ve hidden it.
Learn how

Hide a shared drive

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. At the left, click Shared drives.
  3. Right-click the shared drive you want to hide, and click Hide.

To select more than one shared drive to hide, hold down Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) as you click.

Unhide a shared drive

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. At the left, click Shared drives.
  3. At the top right, click Hidden shared drives.
  4. Right-click the shared drive you want to unhide, and click Unhide.

To select more than one shared drive to unhide, hold down Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) as you click. 

Note: Shared drives are automatically hidden for group members once they reach a certain number of members. This is to avoid spamming large groups with shared drive content. This occurs in two ways:

  • If a shared drive is shared directly with a group that has more than 1000 people in it. For example, if a shared drive is shared with a group that has 1200 users, for 200 of them, the shared drive will be hidden by default.
  • If a shared drive is shared indirectly with over 2500 people. For example, if the shared drive is shared with 6 groups containing 500 people each, the behavior is that the first 2500 users added (from the first 5 groups of 500 people), will see the shared drive, but then the shared drive will be hidden for the final group of 500 people because they were added beyond the 2500 limit.

 

 

Change your shared drive theme

 
Personalize your shared drive with a photo or color to easily tell which shared drive you're in.
 
Learn how
Requires Manager access
  1. Open Google Drive.
  2. Under Shared drives, click a shared drive.
  3. At the top, click the shared drive nameand thenChange theme and thenPick from Gallery or Create custom theme.
  4. Click the picture of the theme you want, or navigate and click a custom image.

    Custom images should be at least 1280 x 144 pixels in size.

  5. Click Select.

 

 

Find files in a shared drive by owner

If you’re looking for a file that you didn’t create in a shared drive with a lot of members, searching by team member can take some time. However, if you know who created the file, you can search by creator to easily find it.

Learn how
  1. In the shared drive search box, enter creator: followed by the email of the person in your organization who created the file. For example, creator:yourcolleague@organization.com.
  2. (Optional) To refine your search, add other search terms in the search box or click the Down arrowand add more search operators.
  3. Press Enter.

 

 


Google, Google Workspace, and related marks and logos are trademarks of Google LLC. All other company and product names are trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.

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