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Sharing Google Files as a Public Link

Sharing Google Files as a public link

One of the most common questions I hear from folks new to Google Drive is “Can I share Google formatted files with people who don’t have a Google account?”.  Files created in Google Drive are “private”, by default, but you can easily adjust the sharing settings to make a file or even an entire folder accessible to anyone via a public link.  This “Anyone with the Link” visibility setting is perfect for teachers who want to create newsletters using Google Docs to send out to parents via email or post on their class website.

Sharing a file or folder as a public link:

1.  Access the file or folder Share settings:

A.) From inside Google Drive: right click on the file (or folder) you want to share and choose “share” from the menu  –OR-

B.) From inside a file:  Click the blue “Share” button at the top right corner of the file

*NOTE: You can only change “Share” settings for ONE file or folder at a time.  However, if you change the share settings for a folder, all of the files within the folder take on those same share settings.

2.  From bottom right corner of Share menu, click “Advanced” to access more sharing options.

Google G Suite link sharing

3.  Under “Who has access” click “Change” and choose “Anyone with the Link – Can View”

4.  Copy the “Link to share” that appears in the Share Settings window.  The link will be copied to your Clipboard and can be pasted where you need it.   This is the link that will allow anyone, regardless of if they have a Google account or not, to view the file or folder.

Link sharing Google G Suite

5.  (Optional) To prevent people from copying, printing or downloading your document, check the box.

6.  Click “Done” to save the updated sharing settings.

Testing a Google Share Link

In order to test the link you’ve copied to ensure anyone, including parents and or colleagues who do not have Google accounts can access the file or folder you are trying to share, test the link using an “Incognito Window”.  

    1. Click on the the Chrome Menu and choose “New Incognito Window”
    2. Paste the share link you have saved to your clipboard in this new window.  Incognito windows allow you to test the link without any or your associated Google account login or cookies.  If a link works in this mode, you can be sure that it will also work for anyone you give the link to.

Link Sharing Google

One of the huge benefits of using this “Anyone with the link can view” sharing option is that the link never changes.  If you update your file in Google drive, rename it or even move it to a different folder, the link that you’ve shared will always take people back to it.  I share all of my workshop resources this way, which means that when I update resources, long after I’ve given folks a link, they will always be taken to the most up-to-date version of the file whenever they go to access it.  No need for me to re-send anything!  If I change my mind and no longer wish to have a file visible to people using a link, I simply go back into the sharing settings and change it back to private.  It’s that simple!

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Additional Resources:

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One comment

  1. My only complaint with the sharing feature is that you cannot do a public share a document (anyone with the link can …) on a device. I keep hoping Google will do an update on the app to allow this sharing setting.

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