Original Poster

Sharing Collection to people without Google Account

Hello everyone!

1st Question:
I have a collection which I need to share with some people without a Gmail Account, I used to do that in individual files by giving them a link, but when I tried this time to use that method in sharing Collections, people were required to sign-in before they can access the Collection.  So how do I share my files with people without Gmail Accounts?

2nd Question:
Not only that, here are the terms of sharing I like to have with my collaborators, but I can't seem to find the right option to impose these terms:
1.  I do not want my collection to be found through search engines.
2.  I do not want any of my collaborators to edit the files through Google Docs and replace my files.
3. I want to allow my collaborators to download the files which they can edit in their own computers.
4. I want to allow my collaborators to upload files in the collection and be identified as the owner of that collection and sole editor of their own files.

Google Docs just gave me two options in sharing collections, which I both found problematic:
(1)  Public on the Web.
Anyone on the Internet can find and access.  No sign-in required.
-Problem:  I do not want anyone to view my files.  I just want my collaborators to view it (through a link, if possible).  I also mentioned that I do not want my files to be found through a search engine.

(2) Private
Only people explicitly granted permission can access.  Sign-in required.

-Problem:  I am going to share it with people without Google Accounts.  So signing-in is going to be problematic.

So how do I impose my terms or preferences in sharing?

Thank you very much.
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All Replies (14)
I have the same problem. It seems like sharing collections with somone who does not have a Google account would be a simple thing. Not being able to is like going back to the old days of computing where developers tried to keep everything proprietary.
Google Docs REALLY needs this ability!
The only way around this problem if you require TOTAL PRIVACY & SECURITY is to convince your collaborators to each open a 'new' gmail account for the purpose of this collaboration;  I did this with a group of committee members for a sports association;  each member opened a gmail account that we used specifically for this group project.  I had to assist one person who was not very computer savy to open their account; but generally it was well accepted since this made our collaboration so much easier and they were concerned about security. Some of them enjoyed their new google experience so much they began to use gmail and google docs for other things in their life; this may be what google is trying to 'force' us into.

Once these people have gmail accounts everything will work perfectly for you and you can control who gets access etc. with private sharing.   You can't complain about google not keeping everything proprietary; because this is precisely WHY they can offer you the private option since they control the entire loop.  If they let in other accounts like yahoo or hotmail servers to private sharing, they are not controlling the loop and security is compromised.  So if your documents are sensitive you should definitely convince the group to each open a gmail account;  it's not that difficult!

IF you are not paranoid and you TRUST everyone in your group you could also set your documents to 'anyone with the link'.  Unless someone in your group shares the link or publishes in a blog, the chances are practically nil of someone 'accidently' finding your documents by 'guessing' the URL.  The documents are not found by search engine so the only risk is somebody you gave the link to leaking it.  Depending on the sensitivity of the docs and how much you trust your members, you could try this option.   You will see below that you can revert your docs at any time to 'private' again and the URL will not work anymore.   So if you wanted to share your docs for just 24 hours while everyone downloads them, that would work. 
Anyone with the link:
Anyone who learns the exact URL or web address of your doc will be able to see it.
  • They aren't private: people may come across links to these docs if those links are posted on a blog or forwarded in an email, for example. If you prefer to share a doc with a closed circle of users, share your doc with specific people.
  • You can set docs in this category to Private at any time. Once you restrict access, old links to the doc will no longer work.

How to set your doc to Anyone with the link

  1. Click the blue Share button in the top right of your doc
  2. Next to the doc's visibility option, which is the first item in the sharing dialog, click Change....
  3. Select Anyone with the link. If you'd like people to be able to edit, view, or comment on your doc, change the setting next to "Access: Anyone (no sign-in required)" at the bottom of the window.
  4. Click Save.
The do not need a gmail account in order to have a Google Docs account - you can open one associated with any email address (use the email address as the log-in and choose a password). It is true that they need this account for you to share a private doc with them - which is reasonable, you want someone to have to log in to something restricted.
Teresa C.
Teresa C.
As of today, you should be able to share your collections with "Anyone with the link." Let me know if you have questions!
I have the same problem. I've selected "let people edit without logging in" and "anyone with the link has access", but people who don't have an account can only see a messed up looking list of files (which they can only open), and the "share" buttons do nothing. Nill. It doesn't even throw an error message. Right clicking is messed up too; I only get browser options. Of course, if I sign in, everything works perfectly, but...
essentially, this makes google docs useless for the only feature I wanted from it: to let everyone in my group access and edit the documents with only a link, regardless of whether or not they had an account. Pretty disallusioned, right now.
I have same problem as howard1955
I use storage to share an not email files (images and audio).
How do I share my files for everyone to be able to reach them?  I have had some people able to some not.  Why?  This inconsistency is not what I had in mind.  The long link addresses do not help either, everytime some detail is changed, the link address seems to change too, so those people that could see the file (without a login screen popping-up) cannot find it later when the long link name changes.
How can ALL of my people have a consistent way of finding my PUBLIC files?  I cannot even do this on my BB.
I belong to a club that has a website with a separate member section within, thus providing us the security referenced by pastrychef.  All members can access the member section, and when we insert links for separate, "public" documents they are able to open any document WITHOUT using a Google account.  However we have tried to use that same "public" option for collections and have not been able to make it work.  

The collections (and sub-collections) are all saved as Public, and every document within is saved as Public.  When we click the link to the collection it immediately asks for the id/pw for a Google account.

Is it POSSIBLE to open the collections without a Google account or are we just fooling ourselves here?
Bas Braams
Bas Braams
<<When we click the link to the collection it immediately asks for the id/pw for a Google account.>>

It is excellent to raise this issue again. I think that I know the behavior and it has to do with using the link from the browser address bar instead of the link that is supplied when creating or inspecting the Share menu.

From [1]: "Create a collection L0 and within it a document doc0 and share L0 public on the web view only. Visit L0 and copy the address as it appears in the browser address bar, then sign out and try to access that address. One is asked to sign in. I call it an error, either of design or of implementation. Note that for documents, the change that was announced on the forum some time ago [2] was meant to avoid this unpleasantness."

From [3]: "If a collection is shared to anyone with the link and a person is given a link to the collection that is obtained by copying from the browser address bar then the person is asked to sign-in in order to view the collection. This is a problem; in the case of documents or files I believe that the GDocs team struggled mightily not long ago to make it so that the URL from browser address bar can be used just as well as the URL that is obtained from the sharing dialog window."

Sir, you have SOLVED the problem.  It took about 15 seconds to do and now everything works as desired.  Thank you so much!  My apologies for not having read your references before posting - the answer was there, but your version was short, sweet, and to the point.  Thanks.

Lee L
I am a member of a group that shares private documents using Google Docs. I have 1 Google account with 2 personal email addresses associated with it, but the group associated my work email address with these documents. I am now unable to view the documents using my personal email addresses (because that account does not have access to the files) or my work email address (because that account was never really created by me). I have tried merging the 2 accounts, but Google security won't give me access. Is there a way to associate my work email address with my existing Google account? The problem seems to stem from the fact that it exists as its own account, but I didn't create it or set password for it, and thus I can't access the account or the documents.
Google user
Google user
Hi Teresa,

I just tried to share a collection (via my premier biz google account) with a non-google account / non-gmail user, and they keep getting a "Internal Server. Error 500" message. All Gmail and Google account users are able to access the collection just fine. Any thoughts? Is there a workaround for this?

Thanks in advance,
Doesn't seem to work anymore. I have several links to google docs on my site but the last time I tried it, it ask the user t sign in.
Cherisse Gardner
Cherisse Gardner
"I do not want any of my collaborators to edit the files through Google Docs and replace my files."

In the same pop-up with the "Anyone with the Link" setting there is a drop down at the "Access: " line where you can determine whether those with access can view only or can edit.
You Aren't by chance using "Neighborhoodlinks" web sites are you ?  If so would like to talk with you about some issues you may have run in to.  
If not, sorry for intrusion. 
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