Best practices for shared drives

4. Share files in a shared drive

You can use this feature only if your organization supports it. For help, contact your administrator.

Avoid version conflicts with Google Drive


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Here's what to consider when sharing files in a shared drive with different collaborators.

In this section, you learn how to:

4.1 Set access levels for a shared drive
4.2 Request access to a shared drive
4.3 Share files with non-members
4.4 Restrict sharing
4.5 Track changes in a shared drive

4.1 Set access levels for a shared drive


Set access levels based on your shared drive's purpose

For any type of shared drive, give people who need to manage it Manager access so they can add or remove members, delete content, and so on.

For everyone else, if the shared drive is:

  • An active space for collaboration—Give people Content manager access or Contributor access so they can update content. Content managers can move files and folders within a shared drive or move files to the trash (but they can't delete files permanently).
  • A repository for final content—Give people Commenter or Viewer access so content can’t be updated.

Control who can delete files

If you want people to be able to:

  • Move files to trash—Give them at least Content manager access.
  • Permanently delete files from trash—Give them Manager access.
  • Restore files from trash—Give them at least Contributor access.

Deleting a file removes it from the shared drive for all members. The file goes into Trash and is permanently deleted after 30 days or sooner if a member with Manager access deletes it.

Consider how your collaborators edit non-Google files

If your collaborators use Google 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. See Switch to a different version of your file.

Change access levels and shared drive names for completed projects

If your shared drive is based around a project, once it’s complete, you can:

  • Change people’s access from Manager, Content manager, or Contributor to Commenter or Viewer access.
  • Add a status to the shared drive name, such as [Archive].

Now, the shared drive is more like a repository than an active project folder.

 Save a team

4.2 Request access to a shared drive


It’s best to request access to a shared drive from the person who shared a link to it. If they have Manager access, they can add you directly.

Request access to a shared drive

4.3 Share files with non-members


You can share files with non-members.

Note: Your administrator or Managers of a shared drive can disable this option for different shared drives.

When you share a file with a non-member, it appears in their Shared with me folder in Drive. They can continue to access it there or in their Recent folder, but they won’t be able to add it to My Drive or another shared drive.

Create separate shared drives for groups of non-members

If you’re sharing many files with the same group of non-members, create a separate shared drive and add those people as members.


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.

Share files with nonmembers

4.4 Restrict sharing


Limit sharing externally or with non-members

For sensitive files in a shared drive, members with Manager access can limit sharing (with non-members or people outside of your organization). They can specify if files can be:

  • Shared with people who are not in your domain.
  • Shared with people who are not members of the shared drive.
  • Downloaded, copied, or printed by commenters and viewers.

Protect all files in a shared drive​:

Requires Manager access

  1. On the left, click the shared drive that contains the files you want to protect.
  2. At the top, next to the shared drive name, click the Down arrow ""and thenShared drive settings.
  3. Click Edit to set any of these permissions:
    • Sharing files with people outside of your organization
    • Sharing files with people in your organization who aren’t members of the shared drive
    • Allowing people with Commenter and Viewer access to download, copy, or print files
  4. After you choose an option, click Apply.
  5. Click Done.

Don’t add an entire organization to a shared drive

Unless content is highly focused, don't share a shared drive with your entire organization.


  • Do: Create a shared drive containing office policies for all employees of a U.S.-based company.
  • Don’t: Create a shared drive for an entire international company and then add a folder called US Office Policies. This can make organizing and searching the shared drive difficult.

Manage membership with Google Groups

Create a group in Google Groups to add people to a shared drive. Then, you can also send weekly email updates and other announcements to the group. See Add members and set permissions.

Consider sharing limits

A shared drive can include a large number of individual and group members:

  • You can add up to 600 individual or group email addresses.
  • A group can contain up to 50,000 members.

Note: A group and an individual are counted as one member. If a person is added individually and as a member of a group, they still only count as one member.

Limit sharing

4.5 Track changes in a shared drive


For the latest updates in a shared drive, go to the Activity stream to see:

  • Membership changes
  • New or deleted files
  • Changes to shared drive settings
  • Who changed files and when

See recent activity for a shared drive:

  1. Open Google Drive and on the left, select a shared drive.
  2. At the top right, click View details "".
  3. Click Activity.

 Track changes in a shared drive


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