Get started with encrypted files in Drive, Docs, Sheets & Slides

All files uploaded to Drive or created in Docs, Sheets, and Slides are encrypted in transit and at rest with AES256 bit encryption. For additional confidentiality, your organization can allow you to encrypt Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides files with Workspace Client-side encryption. Encrypted files have some limitations from standard files. You can also upload any Drive file types like PDFs and Office as encrypted Drive files.

Important: To encrypt Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides files with Workspace Client-side encryption:

  • You must have a Workspace account.
  • Your administrator must enable client-side encryption.
  • You must verify your identity.

Learn about encryption

Encryption is the process of encoding information to protect your data. Only users who have Workspace Client-side encryption enabled by their admin and have verified their identity can make or copy encrypted files. On an encrypted file, any user with whom the file has been shared can access it using an encryption key unique to that file. Normally Google encrypts your content in transit and at rest, but with client-side encryption your domain has chosen to add an extra layer of protection.

Things to know about encryption
  • Your domain administrator has control over which groups and individuals can use encryption. If you would like to move files to locations with encryption turned off or to turn on this feature for new locations, contact your administrator.
  • Your administrator also has the option to recommend that new files in Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides are created using Client-side Encryption via in-app prompts. Please consult with your admin as needed to ensure that expectations for your organization are understood.
  • Client-side Encryption provides an extra layer of protection for your organization. Your files are encrypted from end-to-end and between clients. Google cannot decrypt your files. Keep in mind:
    • Applications on your computer with sufficient permissions granted, such as Chrome extensions, may be able to view and exfiltrate encrypted files.
    • Encryption does not protect your files from someone who can view your screen.
  • How often you’re required to resign in to open client-side encrypted files, is up to your admin. If you have to sign in often, contact your admin.
Find what’s different about encrypted files
  • A lock appears next to an encrypted file.
  • Only one person can edit an encrypted file at a time. Learn how to collaborate on encrypted files.
  • In encrypted files, autosave starts every 30 seconds, unless your device is idle or you perform another action, like share a file or attempt to exit a file.
    • If you attempt to exit an unsaved file, you get a warning. To avoid the loss of your unsaved changes, click Cancel.
  • Autosave has 3 statuses:
    • Waiting to save: Waits for an autosave trigger or the 30-second timer.
    • Saving: A save is in progress. You can continue to edit your file.
    • Saved to Drive: You haven’t made any changes. Your version is current.
  • There are different steps to create encrypted files. Learn how to make or copy encrypted files.
  • In order to access encrypted files, your admin may require you to sign into an additional SSO service twice, once for your organization's IDP and once with Google for Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
  • You can print from Docs or Sheets, but not from Slides.
  • Spellcheck for encrypted Docs and Slides is available in American English, British English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
  • Spellcheck isn't available in Sheets.
  • You can export a Sheets file into an Excel file. Go to File and then Download.
  • Version History for encrypted files retains up to 100 versions. After you exceed 100 versions, less significant versions are removed automatically. Named versions aren't yet available.
  • Encrypted Docs, Sheets, and Slides have a maximum size of 100 MB. Encrypted Drive files have no limit.
  • The maximum number of images in a document is 3,000.
  • A single image size is 1 MB.
  • Downloading a folder doesn't affect client-side encrypted files.
Find what’s not available for encrypted files

With encrypted files, you can’t:

  • Open Microsoft Office in Edit mode for Docs or Slides
  • Comment on Sheets, Slides, and Drive files
  • Use the mobile app to edit Docs, Sheets, or Slides
  • Use functions in Sheets that make external calls
  • Import Microsoft Office files into Docs or Slides
  • Use certain tools, which includes:
    • Grammar check
    • Translate and compare documents
    • Voice typing
    • Add-ons
  • Download Docs or Slides
  • Use file preview for Docs, Sheets, or Slides

Make or copy encrypted files

Important: To make or copy encrypted files, you need to:

  • Sign into a work or school account
  • Have client-side encryption enabled by your admin
  • Verify that your account can create files
Create a new encrypted file

To create an encrypted document, spreadsheet, or presentation, choose an option:

From Google Drive:

  1. Go to drive.google.com.
  2. At the top left, click New .
  3. Point to the arrow next to Docs, Sheets, or Slides and then click Blank encrypted document/spreadsheet/presentation.
  4. In the “New encrypted document” window, click Create.

From Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides:

  1. Open a Google Docs, Sheet, or Slide.
  2. At the top, click File.
  3. Point to New and then click New encrypted document/spreadsheet/presentation.
  4. In the “New encrypted document” window, click Create.

Tips:

  • If your admin enables CSE by Default, "New/Blank encrypted document/spreadsheet/presentation" appears as the recommended option under File and then New menu.
  • If you create an encrypted file in a Shared folder, the encrypted file has the same access as the folder.
  • If the options for Blank encrypted document/spreadsheet/presentation or New encrypted document/spreadsheet/presentation aren't available:
Upload a new encrypted file
  1. Go to drive.google.com.
  2. At the top left, click New .
  3. Point to the arrow next to File upload and then click Encrypt and upload file.

Tips:

  • If your admin enables CSE by Default, "Encrypt and upload" appears as the recommended option in the New+ menu.
  • If you upload an encrypted file in a Shared folder, the encrypted file has the same access as the folder.
  • If the option for Encrypt and upload file isn't available:
Copy an encrypted file

From Google Drive:

  1. Right-click a file.
  2. Click Make a copy and then Make a copy (only available for Drive files, not Google Docs, Sheets or Slides).
  3. If a file:
    • Has additional encryption, you can also Make a decrypted copy.
    • Doesn’t have additional encryption, you can also Make an encrypted copy.

From Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides:

  1. Open an encrypted Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides file.
  2. At the top left, click File and then Make a copy and then Make a copy.
  3. If a file:
    • Has additional encryption, you can also Make a decrypted copy.
    • Doesn’t have additional encryption, you can also Make an encrypted copy.

Tips:

  • If your admin enables CSE by default, Make an encrypted copy appears as the recommended option under the File and then Make a copy menu.
  • If the options for Make an encrypted copy or Make a decrypted copy aren’t available:
    • Confirm you’re logged into your work or school account.
    • Check if your admin has enabled client-side encryption.
Add encryption to a document
  1. Open a Google Doc, Sheet or Slide.
  2. At the top, click File and then Make a copy and then Add additional encryption.

Tips:

  • If your admin enables CSE by Default, "Make an encrypted copy" appears as the recommended option under File and then Make a copy menu.
  • Features not supported by client-side encryption are made static or removed.
    • Features made static:
      • Checklists
      • Embedded drawings, charts, and tables
      • Linked forms
      • External data functions like GOOGLEFINANCE
      • Connected Sheets
      • WordArt
    • Features removed from the document:
      • E-signature fields
      • Comments and suggestions
      • Protected ranges
      • Apps Script and Add-ons
  • If Add encryption doesn't display:
    • Confirm you're logged into your work or school account.
    • Check if your admin allows client-side encryption.
    • Confirm that you are the owner of the document in My Drive or the Manager of the shared drive.
    • Verify your identity. Learn how to connect with your identity provider.
Remove encryption from a document
  1. Open a Google Doc, Sheet or Slide.
  2. At the top, click File and then Make a copy and then Remove additional encryption.

Tips:

  • If Remove additional encryption doesn't display:
    • Confirm you're logged into your work or school account.
    • Check if your admin allows client-side encryption.
    • Confirm that you are the owner of the document in My Drive or the Manager of the shared drive.
    • Verify your identity. Learn how to connect with your identity provider.

Learn how to work with encrypted Excel files in Drive

There are different ways to work with encrypted Excel files. You can:

  • Import Excel data into Sheets.
  • Download a copy of a Sheets file in Excel format.
Learn how to import Excel data into Sheets

You can import data from an Excel file to an available encrypted Sheets file. Your Excel file won’t be changed, even as you change the encrypted Sheets file.

  1. In Sheets, create a new or open an available encrypted Excel file.
  2. At the top left, click File and then Import.
  3. Choose the Excel file.
  4. Click Select.
  5. Choose an import option:
    • Create new spreadsheet
    • Insert new sheet(s)
  6. Click Import data.

Tips:

  • You can only import Excel files with the .xlsx extension.
  • While you import, unsupported Excel features in Sheets are ignored.
  • Maximum file size: 100MB
  • Maximum number of cells: 10M
  • Maximum number of images: 3000
Learn how to download a Sheets file into an Excel file

You can download a copy of an encrypted Sheets file in Excel format.

  1. In Sheets, at the top left, click File and then Download and decrypt.
  2. Click Microsoft Excel (.xlsx).

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