Google Workspace logo in corner of tablet screen with pen
Vladimka production/Shutterstock.com

When you have a document, spreadsheet, or presentation that you want approval on for your company, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides has you covered. Send the request for approval, optionally set a due date, and get the approval you need.

Note: The feature is available for paid plans including Workspace, Business, or Enterprise Essentials and above, Education Plus, Nonprofits, and G Suite plans above Basic.

About Approvals in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Here are a few basics on how approvals work in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

  • Reviewers receive a notification when you request approval. This can be an email, Google Chat notification, or browser alert, depending on their notification settings.
  • If you request approval from multiple people, everyone must approve the document for the process to be considered complete.
  • When edits are made by an approver, all reviewers will receive a notification to re-approve the document.
  • If you include a due date on the approval request, reminders are sent to reviewers for upcoming and past due dates.
  • If one person rejects the approval, the document is considered rejected by all reviewers.
  • Once a document is approved, it will be locked. You cannot edit the document unless you unlock it. This will cancel the current approval request.

How to Request an Approval

Open the document you want to receive approval for in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. Click File > Approvals from the menu.

Select File, Approvals

You’ll see the Approvals sidebar open on the right. Click “Make a Request.”

Click Make a Request

When the Request Approval window opens, enter the names from your contact list or email addresses for those you want to review the document.

RELATED: How to Add Contacts to Gmail

Optionally, enter a message, set a due date, allow reviewers to edit, or lock the file before sending. Click “Send Request.”

Send an approval request

Note: If you did not previously share the document with those you want to review it, you’ll be asked to give them access to the document.

How to Review and Approve a Document

If an approval request is sent to you, you’ll see a Pending Approval message displayed at the top of the document below the toolbar.

Pending approval message in Google Docs

Before approving or rejecting, you can click “View Details.” This opens the Approvals sidebar where you can see the other reviewers, a due date if one was assigned, and the message included with the request. You can also make comments that will display in the Activity section at the bottom of the sidebar.

View details of your pending approval

If edits are made to the document during the approval process, you can see what those are using the sidebar as well. Below View Changes, use the drop-down box to see edits since you last viewed or approved the document, or since the approval process started.

View changes to the document

Use the Approve or Reject buttons in the message at the top of the document or in the sidebar when you’re ready. With each action, you can include a message if you like.

Approve or Reject a document

How to Review Approvals

As the one who asked for approval, you can view the status of your request. A message displays at the top of the document, below the toolbar. You can also open the Approvals sidebar by clicking File > Approvals from the menu or clicking “View Details” in the message.

Partially approved message in Google Docs

Advertisement

Just like reviewers, you’ll see all details of the approval in the sidebar with any activity at the bottom. And you can use the drop-down below View Changes to see any edits.

Review approvals sidebar

Once everyone approves the document, you’ll see a message that the file has been locked. This prevents any further edits to the document since it has already been approved.

File locked message after approvals

When you open the document, you’ll see a new message at the top that you are looking at the approved version.

Approved version message

Click “View Details” to open the sidebar to review the activity. This information displays for you as well as those who approved the document.

Approval details in the sidebar

How to Unlock an Approved Document

If you want to make changes to an approved document, select the Locked drop-down arrow at the top and click “Unlock File.” Remember, you’ll then need to request approval again since you’re making changes.

Select Locked, Unlock File

You can start a new approval request in the sidebar after you make your edits.

Start a New Approval

Advertisement

The ability to request approval on documents in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides is a helpful feature for all types of business documents. From legal documents to proposals and beyond, you can make sure that the document has the seal of approval from everyone necessary.

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.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.