Google Drive is great—you can access your files from anywhere, on pretty much any device, and sync them between your computers. But there’s also another great feature: sharing. If you have a file that someone needs, it’s as easy as a few clicks (or taps) to shoot them a download link.

Here’s how to generate a link for basically any file that’s stored in your Google Drive, as well as how to control the privacy of the file (and link).

How to Generate a Share Link on Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS

If you’re a Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS user and have the Google Drive app installed (which, if you don’t, you really should), generating a link is super easy, and can even be done directly from Windows Explorer or Finder. It’s worth noting the Drive app is built into Chrome OS’ file manager by default, so there’s need to install anything else.

(If you aren’t using the Drive app, skip down to the last section of this guide, which explains how to share files from Drive’s web interface.)

First, navigate to the file you want to share. Doesn’t matter if it’s a document, picture, executable, or any other type of file, the sharing process is the same. Right click on the file, then go down to the Google Drive entry into this menu.

When the new menu options pop out, choose “Share.”

Note: On macOS and Chrome OS, there is no “Google Drive” option—simply select “Share” (on Chrome OS) or “Share using Google Drive” (on macOS). From there, everything else is basically the same.

The first box that shows up will allow you to send the link to a specific email address—you can do that if you’d like, but since we’re talking about creating shareable links here, we’re going to go a couple of steps further.

In the upper right corner of the Share Settings dialog box, there’s a button that reads “Get shareable link.” Click that.

Once that option is enabled, the link will be populated. You can simply highly it, then copy and paste it into an email, chat message, or anywhere else.

But there’s still more control here. When you generate a download link, it automatically allows the file to be viewed by anyone with the link. You can, however, change this setting using the dropdown menu directly above the link.

There are a handful of options here:

  • Off: If you accidentally shared the file, use this option to basically un-share it, making it private once again.
  • Anyone with the link can edit: This is more for documents and such, but this basically gives the shared users full read and write access. They still can’t delete it from your Drive, though—this is just for the contents of the file.
  • Anyone with the link can comment: Again, this is mostly for documents. It allows shared users to leave comments if desired—this is great for team projects.
  • Anyone with the link can view: Shared users can simply view the file, but can’t edit it in any way. This is the default action when you share a file, and the best option if you’re trying to share file for download.

There’s also a “More” option at the very bottom, which allows you to change the general privacy settings for the file:

  • On (Public): This basically makes the file public. Anyone can search for, find, and download the file.
  • On (Link): Anyone with the link can download it. They don’t have to sign in to their Google account to do so.
  • Off: Only specific people can access the file. Thus, Google sign-in is required.

Yeah, that’s a lot to kind of take in when all you’re doing is sharing a simple file. The good news is that Google does most of the heavy lifting here, and the default sharing action is fairly private (your link is accessible by anyone, but only if they know the link), so you can quickly and efficiently share files.

How to Generate a Share Link on Android and iOS

If you need to build a link on a mobile device, the process is equally as simple—though the varying options are more hidden. Because of that, we’re going to break this down into a couple of sections: generating the link, and controlling the shared link.

Generating the Link

I’m using an Android device for this tutorial, but the Drive app works basically the same way on both Android and iOS, so you should be able to follow along regardless of what platform you’re on.

Go ahead and open the Drive app, then navigate to the file you want to share.

Tap the three-dot button on the file, then tap “Share link.” On iOS, this actually reads “Get link.”

This is where the only real difference between Android and iOS happens: on iOS, the link is simply copied to the clipboard, so you can share it. On Android, the share menu will show up, giving you a lot more options.

Your Share Dialog box will probably look different than mine, because it’s curated based on your sharing history, installed apps, and so on. But you should be able to wing it from here—just choose the app you want to share the file in. Alternatively, you can select the “Copy to clipboard” option if you’d rather just copy the link and share it manually.

How to Modify Your Shared Link

Now that you have your shared link, you’re probably wondering where all the options are. Unlike on Windows or Chrome OS, these options aren’t directly available from the share dialog. Instead, they’re tucked away in the file’s Drive menu.

Again, navigate to the file you shared, then tap the three-dot menu button again.

This time, however, tap the “i” button on the right side of the file name. This is the information button.

Scroll down just a bit, until you see the first sub-section after the file info. This section, “Who Has Access”, is where you’ll modify the file’s shared settings.

The first thing here is Link share—since you’ve already shared this file, sharing will be On. The privacy will be set to “Anyone with the link can view” since that’s the default action. If you want to change that, tap the eyeball/down arrow.

You can change the status to “Can Edit,” “Can View,” or “Off” (to unshare the file). Easy peasy.

Otherwise, you can also add specific people to the file if you’d like to share it with individual users. Just click the “Add People” button under the “Who Has Access” section.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it.

How to Generate a Shared Link on the Web

If you’re not into using integrated apps (or just don’t have them installed), you can also share files directly from the Drive website. The process is actually really similar to the native apps on Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS.

From the Drive website, navigate to the file you want to share, then right-click it. I love that the modern web supports things like this.

There are actually a couple of options you can choose: Share or Get Shareable Link. They both basically do the same thing, though the former offers more options. The latter simply generates the shareable link and makes it easy to copy. For this section of the tutorial, I’m using the “Share” method.

Once you click the Share button, a the share dialog will pop up. Click the “Get shareable link” in the top right corner, which will essentially activate the shareable feature. From here you can copy the link, add specific email addresses to share with, and change the privacy of the file.

By clicking the dropdown just above the link, you can edit how much power the shared user(s) have over the file:

  • Off: If you accidentally shared the file, use this option to basically un-share it, making it private once again.
  • Anyone with the link can edit: This is more for documents and such, but this basically gives the shared users full read/write access. They still can’t delete it from your Drive, though—this is just for the contents of the file.
  • Anyone with the link can comment: Again, this is mostly for documents. It allows shared users to leave comments if desired—this is great for team projects.
  • Anyone with the link can view: Shared users can simply view the file, but can’t edit it in any way. This is the default action when you share a file, and the best option if you’re trying to share file for download.

There’s also a “More” option at the very bottom, which allows you to change the general privacy settings for the file:

  • On (Public): This basically makes the file public. Anyone can search for, find, and download the file.
  • On (Link): Anyone with the link can download it. They don’t have to sign in to their Google account to do so.
  • Off: Only specific people can access the file. Thus, Google sign-in is required.

Once you’ve set everything as you want it to be, just click Save (or Done if you didn’t jump into the “More” menu). And that’s that.


While not a dedicated file sharing solution, Drive is great if you want to share a file with a colleague, family member, friend, or the like. It’s a great sort of two-in-one solution for both storing and sharing files quickly and easily, all with essentially universal access.