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One of the best features of online applications like Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides is the ability to share documents. Whether you want to collaborate in real-time or simply let others view the document, it’s easy enough.

However, there’s more to sharing your document than just a button click. Depending on what you’re sharing and with whom, you should take a moment to consider the sharing permissions. Should others have the ability to edit the document? Do you want them to be able to add comments? Or should the document be view-only? Let’s walk through how to share your documents and the permission options.

Set Up Sharing With Specific People

Google keeps things consistent when it comes to sharing in all three applications. So you can follow the same steps regardless of which application you’re using. For this how-to, we’ll use Google Docs as an example.

When you’re ready, click “Share” on the top right. Alternatively, you can click File > Share from the menu.

Enter the name of your contact or email address of the person you’ll share with. You can enter more than one person if you like. Just note that if you do share with more than one person and adjust the sharing permissions at this stage, you cannot set the permissions individually. However, you can change them per person after you share the document, which we’ll also cover below.

Share with more than one person

Adjust the Sharing Permissions

To the right, use the drop-down box to choose the permission. You can choose Editor, Viewer, or Commenter.

  • Editor: They can make changes, accept or reject suggestions, and share the document with others.
  • Viewer: They can only view the document. They cannot make changes or share the document.
  • Commenter: They can only add comments and make suggestions. They cannot make changes or share the document.

Select a sharing permission

The above are default permission settings, but you can make a couple of adjustments if you like. In the sharing window, click the gear icon on the top right.

Here you can disallow editors from changing permissions and sharing. And you can disable the ability for viewers and commenters to see the download, print, and copy actions. Uncheck the boxes to remove those permissions per your preference.

Check or uncheck permission settings

Share the Document

Once you add the person or people you want to share with and set the permissions, you can optionally check the box to Notify People and add a message. This will send an email to them letting them know you’ve shared a document with them. Click “Send.”

Share and notify

If you don’t want to notify those you’re sharing with here, be sure to uncheck the Notify People box and click “Share.” You may choose to do this if you want to notify them yourself with your own link to the document.

Share and no notification

Set Up Sharing With a Link

If you plan to share your document with many people, you have the option to grab a link to the document instead. And with this option, you can set permissions as well.

RELATED: How to Share a Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides File as a Web Page

Click “Share” and then click inside the Get Link area of the Sharing window. You then have two options in the drop-down box, Restricted and Anyone With the Link.

Get Link section of sharing

Use Restricted in conjunction with adding specific people in the area above. This restricts anyone other than the people you share with from accessing the document if they come across the link.

Restricted link permission

Use Anyone With the Link to allow anyone with it to access the document. Then to the right, choose Viewer, Commenter, or Editor. This permission will apply to everyone accessing the document using the link.

Share with anyone link permission setting

You can then copy the link to share with others. Then, click “Done.”

Share with anyone link permission

Change Permissions After Sharing

Whether you share with specific people or simply share the link, you can change the permissions you initially set up. Click “Share” on the top right.

For specific people, use the top part of the share window. Select the drop-down box next to the person you want to change the permission for and choose the new setting. Click “Save.”

Change sharing permissions

For anyone with a link, use the bottom part of the share window. Select the new permission in the drop-down box on the right. Click “Done.”

Permission change updated

Stop Sharing a Document

If necessary, you can stop sharing a document just as easily. Again, click “Share.”

For specific people, open the drop-down box to the right of the person and select “Remove.”

Choose Remove to stop sharing

For anyone with the link, you can change the setting to Restricted. Then make sure to remove anyone from the sharing list in the above section whom you don’t want to have access.

Change permission to Restricted

Google offers other ways to collaborate with colleagues too. You can use comments in Google Sheets to collaborate on spreadsheets and create documents and work together directly in Google Chat.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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