Unrecognized or anonymous users in a file

You may see a name you don’t recognize or anonymous animals in your file when you choose the sharing settings “Public on the web” or “Anyone with the link.”

Here are a few reasons why you might see a name you don’t recognize in your file:

  • Your file is shared with a mailing list.
  • Your file is shared with someone who doesn’t have a Google Account, and that person forwarded the sharing invitation with someone else.
  • Someone who can edit your file shared it with other people.
  • Someone changed their Google Account name. On the sharing settings page, hover over their name to see their email address.

Anonymous animals

Other people’s names are only shown when you give them view or edit permissions individually or as part of a mailing list.

​If you set your file permissions to "Anyone with the link", you won’t see the names of people viewing your file. Instead, you’ll see others labeled as Anonymous and each anonymous user will be listed as a different anonymous animal.

If you set your file permissions to “Anyone with the link”, but also share the file with specific people, you’ll see the names of the people you shared the file with. Everyone else will appear as anonymous when they view your file.

Anonymous animals in a private file

If you set your file permissions to ““Anyone with the link” and then change it to “Specific people”, you may see multiple anonymous animals when:

  • Someone opens the file multiple times. The anonymous animal list may take a while to time-out old and disconnected sessions.
  • Someone opens the file link through an online messenger. Some online messengers auto-follow links that are sent through their service (to check for phishing/virus attacks, etc).
  • Someone has an extension or script installed in their browser that has some automated system following the file link.
Anonymous animals and Google Apps for your business, school, or domain

People viewing files within their own domain will always show up by name, even if they were shared with individually or as part of the entire domain. If you choose to share your file with anyone within and outside of your domain (if you don't require sign-in to view the document), people outside your domain will appear as anonymous. The domain administrator can control whether documents may be shared outside the domain using the control panel.

Mary is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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