If you use Google Drive, you probably wonder whether or not people with whom you’re sharing files or folders can see your private folders too.
It’s very easy to understand the paranoia since there are many levels of share settings. They can be confusing to new as well as old users, and getting them wrong could potentially compromise their privacy.
We’re going to guide you through the privacy settings and sharing functionalities of Google Drive so that you can have full control over the visibility of your folders and files.
The Essence of Google Drive Sharing Settings
Google Drive, a powerful cloud storage and file management tool, offers various sharing options to cater to different user requirements.
Everything you upload on Google Drive is stored on the online on company’s servers, or to the “cloud”.
Anyone with an internet connection or select users will be able to view, edit or comment on your G Drive files and folders. This depends entirely on the settings you’ve chosen, of course.
The Share settings are designed to maintain your privacy, allowing you to share individual files or folders without exposing your entire file system. Let’s explore how to achieve this in detail.
How to Share a Folder in Google Drive Safely
To answer the question, “if I share a folder in Google Drive, can they see my other folders?” — the short answer is no.
To ensure the privacy of your other folders when sharing files from your G Drive account, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the folder you want to share: Open Google Drive in your web browser, and locate the folder you’d like to share with others.
- Right-click and click Share: Right-click directly on the specific file and choose the ‘Share’ option from the context menu. This will open the ‘Add people and groups’ window. Alternately, you can open the folder, and click the drop-down icon next to the folder name in order to get the ‘Share’ option. You can share an entire folder or just selected files within that folder.
- Enter the email addresses of the people you’d like to share with: In the provided text box, type the email addresses of the individuals you want to grant access to the folder. The sharing option extends to any Google Group you’re part of as well. You can also choose to share the content using a file link instead.
- Choose the permission level: Edit permissions for each recipient to make them a ‘Viewer,’ ‘Commenter,’ or ‘Editor.’ We’ve explained what each level means in full detail in the next section.
- Click ‘Send’ or ‘Copy link’: Once you’ve entered the necessary information, click ‘Send’ to share the folder via email. You can also tick the ‘Notify people’ box here. Alternately, ‘Copy link’ to share it using a Google Drive link you want to send over email or messages.
By following these steps, you can ensure that only the specified folder is shared, and your other folders remain private.
Understanding the Different Permission Levels
Google Drive offers three permission levels when you want to share files and folders, allowing you to control the level of access provided to the recipients. These levels are:
- Viewer: Recipients can view the files but cannot edit, comment, or download them.
- Commenter: Recipients can view and comment on the files but cannot edit or download them.
- Editor: Recipients can view, comment, edit, and download the files. They can also add or remove files from the shared folder.
It’s important to choose the appropriate file permissions based on the level of access you want to allow.
For example, when showing an important document to a client online, you may want their inputs, but you may not want them have edit access.
In such cases, you can set the permission level for your client to ‘Commenter’ when sharing it.
How to share a Google Drive folder publicly
What if you want to share a folder with anyone who wants to see it, including strangers?
- Right-click on the file/folder. Select ‘Share’. A window will open with “General access” in the bottom half.
- Change ‘Restricted’ to ‘Anyone with a link’.
- Next, click on the ‘Copy link’ button and paste the Google Drive link to your social media, blog page or anywhere else.
Now, anyone can view the content by clicking on the Google Drive link you’ve shared publicly, or with a group of people online.
You can set the permission for such publicly shared links to ‘Viewer’, ‘Commenter’ or ‘Editor’.
Keeping Your Other Folders Secure
Google Drive’s settings ensure that sharing one folder doesn’t automatically grant access to your other folders.
However, to enhance the security and privacy of your files, you must:
- Organize your content: Keep sensitive content in a separate, properly named parent folder. Avoid nesting shared folders within private ones. Create a new folder for each project.
- Monitor your shared files: Regularly review your shared content to ensure that they are still relevant and whether or not they should remain accessible to others.
- Revoke access when necessary: If some files and folders are no longer needed to be shared, revoke sharing access to prevent unauthorized access.
How to Change Share Settings in G Drive
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change share settings in Google Drive:
- Open Google Drive: Go to drive.google.com in your web browser and sign in with your personal Google account, or professional Google account.
- Locate the file: Find the file or folder you want to modify the settings for.
- Right-click and click Share: Right-click on the file or folder and choose the ‘Share’ option from the context menu. This will open the window to add people or Google Groups.
- Modify share settings for existing collaborators: In this window (previously called ‘Share with people and groups’), you will see a list of collaborators who already have access to the file. To change their permissions, click on the dropdown menu next to their email address and select the new ‘Viewer,’ ‘Commenter,’ or ‘Editor’ permission level. To remove collaborators, click on the last ‘Remove access’ option.
- Add new collaborators: To share a file with new collaborators, type their email addresses in the ‘Add people and groups’ text box. Choose the permission level you want to grant (‘Viewer,’ ‘Commenter,’ or ‘Editor’) and click ‘Send.’
- Modify a shareable link: To share or unshare a Google Drive link for a file, right-click on the file name, go to Share > General Access and change the permission from ‘Anyone with a link’ to ‘Restricted’, or vice versa.
- Advanced settings (optional): For additional Share settings, click on the gear icon in the top-right corner of the ‘Add people and groups’ window. Here, you can revoke change and sharing permissions for all editors.
- Save changes and close the window: Once you have modified the settings as desired, close the ‘Add people and groups’ window. Your changes will be saved automatically.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your content remains secure and accessible only to the intended recipients.
Who Has Access to Your Google Drive Files and Folders?
As a Google Drive user, it’s essential to understand who has access to your files and folders to ensure the security and privacy of your data.
In this section, we’ll discuss the various parties that can potentially access your Google Drive content and the scenarios in which access is granted.
1. You (The Owner)
As the owner of your Google Drive account, you have full access to all of your cotent. You can view, edit, delete, and manage sharing settings for your content.
A file owner can transfer its ownership to other users too.
Collaborators are the individuals with whom you’ve explicitly chosen to share files or folders. You can grant them specific permissions, such as ‘Viewer,’ ‘Commenter,’ or ‘Editor.’
Collaborators can only see the content you’ve shared with them, and their access level is determined by the permissions you’ve granted (as noted above).
3. People with a Shared Link
When you engage in link sharing for specific files or folders, anyone with the link can access them.
The access level for people with a shared link can be limited to ‘Viewer,’ ‘Commenter,’ or ‘Editor.’
Be cautious when link sharing, as they can be forwarded or shared with others.
To stop people without access from open a folder through such a link, right-click on a single file or specific folder, go to Share > General Access and change the permission from ‘Anyone with a link’ to ‘Restricted’.
This will prevent people without ‘Viewer’, ‘Commenter’ or ‘Editor’ access from opening the link even if they do happen to get their hands on it due to incautious link sharing.
4. Members of Shared Drives
If you’re using Google Workspace, you may have access to Shared Drives, which are designed for team collaboration.
Members of a Shared Drive can access all the content within the drive, subject to their assigned access level.
The four access levels in Shared Drives include ‘Content Manager’, ‘Contributor’, ‘Commenter’, and ‘Viewer’.
Google Workspace email accounts end with the name of your company or organization, such as ‘yourname@StBartsInstitute.com’, instead of ‘email@example.com’.
5. Google Workspace Domain Administrators
In organizations using Google Workspace, domain administrators can access, modify, or delete content within their domain.
They may also monitor usage, enforce policies, and manage share settings. Administrators have access to all users’ data within their domain.
So it’s crucial to maintain a secure and trustworthy relationship with your organization’s IT team.
6. Google (Limited Access)
Google has limited access to your Google Drive content, primarily for providing the services you request, such as file indexing and search functionality.
Google may also access your data to improve their services such as Google apps or search, enforce their terms, or comply with legal requests.
However, the company maintains transparent privacy policies to protect your data from unauthorized access or misuse.
To recap, when you share a folder in Google Drive, the recipients cannot see your other files. They can only see the content you’ve specifically shared with them.
Google Drive’s share settings are designed to protect your privacy while still allowing for easy collaboration with others.
By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently share folders without compromising the security of all the files in your account.
So go ahead and collaborate with peace of mind, knowing that with the right share settings and permission levels enabled, your Google Drive files are safe from prying eyes.