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

All files uploaded to Drive or created in Docs 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 .docx as encrypted Drive files and create encrypted Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

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 create files. On an encrypted file, any user shared on the file 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 protections.

Find what’s different about encrypted files

  • You can recognize any encrypted files in Drive through the lock .
  • Only one person can edit an encrypted file at a time. Learn more about how to collaborate on encrypted files.
  • Autosave works differently for encrypted files. Autosave starts every 5 minutes, unless your device is idle or you perform another action, like you share a file or attempt to exit the file.
    • If you attempt to exit an unsaved file, you get a warning. To avoid the loss of your unsaved changes, click Cancel. By the time you attempt to exit again, your file should be saved.
  • Autosave has 3 statuses:
    • Waiting to save: Waiting for an autosave trigger or the 5-minute timer.
    • Saving: A save is in progress. You can continue to edit your file.
    • Saved to Drive: You have not made any changes. Your version is up to date.
  • There are different steps to create encrypted files. Learn how to make or copy encrypted files below.
  • Your admin may require you to sign into an additional SSO service in order to access encrypted files which means you may have to sign in 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 in Slides.
  • (Beta) 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 are not yet available.
  • Encrypted Docs, Sheets, and Slides have a maximum size of 100 MB. There’s no limit on encrypted Drive files.
  • Maximum number of images in a document: 3,000.
  • A single image size is 1 MB.

Find what’s not available for encrypted files

With encrypted files, you can’t:

  • Access Office editing mode
  • Comment
  • Use the mobile app to edit Docs, Sheets, and Slides
  • Use functions in Sheets that make external calls
  • Import Microsoft Office Files into Docs, Sheets, or Slides
  • Use certain tools, including: spellcheck, grammar check, translate and compare documents, voice typing, and add-ons
  • Download or use file preview for Docs, Sheets, or Slides
  • Access encrypted files offline

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

Make a new encrypted file

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

From Google Drive:  

  1. Go to
  2. At the top left, click New Add
  3. Hover over 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

To upload a new encrypted file:

  1. Go to
  2. At the top left, click New Add
  3. Hover over the arrow next to File upload and then click Encrypt and upload file

To copy an encrypted file, right or double click on the file then select “Make a copy.” You can also “Make an encrypted copy” if the file does not already have encryption just as you can “Make a decrypted copy” if the file does. Note: currently, this is only available for Drive files (not Docs, Sheets, or Slides). 

Tip: If you create a new encrypted file in a Shared folder, it has the same access as the folder.

Things to know about encryption

  • Your domain administrator has control over which groups and individuals that 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
  • 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.

Related articles

Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?

Need more help?

Sign in for additional support options to quickly solve your issue

Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu
Search Help Center