Unable to open or edit a file someone shared with you

Unable to open a file

If you're unable to access a file that you could open before, or if you can't access a file or folder that was shared with you, there are a couple of possibilities:

  • The file owner hasn't granted you access to the file.
  • You were removed from the list of people with access.
  • The owner of the file deleted it.

If you have the link to the file or an email where the file was shared, you can request access to it. Visit the URL, then click the Request access button on the page that says you don't have access.

If you think you shouldn't be seeing this message, here are some things you can try:

  • Make sure you are signed in to the correct Google Account — one of your accounts might have access, and another might not.
  • Contact the person who shared the file with you to confirm that you have access and that you're visiting the correct URL.

Unable to edit a file

If you’re unable to edit a file that was shared with you, there are a couple of possibilities:

  • You’re not signed in to a Google Account.
  • The file owner gave you permission to view or comment on the file, but not edit it.

Sign in to a Google Account

If you believe that the person who shared the file with you gave you permission to edit it, check in the top right corner of the file for a “Sign in to edit” button. If you see the button, click it to sign in to, or sign up for, a Google Account so that you can edit the file.

If you are signed in to your Google Account and still can’t edit the file, you should request edit access from the owner.

Request edit access for the file

If you can't edit a file, the owner of the file may have given you only the ability to view or comment on the file.


In the toolbar, check for a button that says "View only" or "Comment only". If you see this button, you don't have access to edit the file.

To request access:

  1. Open the file.
  2. In the toolbar, click the View only (or Comment only) button.
  3. Click Request edit access.
  4. If you want, add a note to the owner of the file.
  5. Click Send request.

The owner will get an email notification and can open the file to give you edit access.

Android or iOS

You can only request edit access from a computer, but you can see what access to a file you already have on your phone or tablet.

  1. In the Docs, Sheets, or Slides app, open a file.
  2. Under the title of the file, check if it says "View only" or "Comment only". If you're on a phone, touch the More icon to see the title.
  3. If you see "View only" or "Comment only", you don't have edit access and should use the computer instructions above to request edit access.

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

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