Google Drive Shared Drives Improve Visitor Sharing

Artwork: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

At the end of August 2022, Google announced that users of certain editions of Google Workspace would have the option to grant access to shared drives to people who do not have a Google account. Specifically, guest visitors would now be able to create and upload files to a shared drive. This extended access lets you invite visitors to create or download content, such as images or files, from people without a Google Account, as well as collaborate on shared drive content.

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Visitor Sharing allows someone with a Workspace account to share a folder or file from Google Drive to any email address, including people using an email address not associated with an account Google. This allows two people, for example, to collaborate in Google Docs, Sheets or Slides even when one of the collaborators has an email address that is not a Google account. This type of visitor sharing collaboration also works when editing Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files in Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

When sharing is initiated to an email address associated with a Google Account, users are prompted to sign in. When this email address is not linked to a Google account, they receive an email notification. When the guest clicks on the share link, they are taken to a verification screen, from which they can trigger the system to send an additional verification email containing an access code. Once verified, the visitor will be granted access for seven days, after which they must verify again using the link in the original invitation email.

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Remember that file ownership differs between My Drive and a Shared Drive. When someone with a Google Account creates a new file on My Drive, the system considers the creator to be the owner. To check this, go to Google Drive on the web, click or tap on a file you created while signed into a Google account, then tap the View details button (the i surrounded by a circle) at the top to the right of My Drive.

Under the Details tab, scroll down to see the owner of a system-reported file. Files you create show “me” as the owner. Follow a similar process for a folder or file stored on a shared drive, and you’ll find that the owner field doesn’t show up because files on a shared drive aren’t owned by an individual. Instead, the shared drive “owns” the file.

The ability for guest visitors without a Google account to create and upload content to shared drives is available for six Google Workspace editions: Essentials, Business Standard and Plus, Enterprise Standard and Plus, and Education Plus.

A Google Workspace administrator can manage access

A Google Workspace administrator can manage visitor sharing settings for the organization from the Admin console > Menu > Applications > Google Workspace > Drive & Docs > Sharing settings > Sharing options (Figure A). If sharing outside the organization is disabled, visitor sharing will not be allowed.

Figure A

External Sharing Settings Google Workspace Google Drive
Figure A: A Google Workspace admin can control google drive sharing settings to allow external sharing.

Similarly, an admin can also manage shared drive creation settings, located further down in the same admin section (Figure B). These settings allow an administrator to control not only who can create shared drives, but also whether people outside the organization can access content on a shared drive as a member of the drive or by being granted access. to an individual item.

Figure B

Google Workspace default shared drive settings
Figure B: Similarly, a Google Workspace administrator can also manage default shared drive settings.

Finally, an administrator can also control specific shared drive settings. These can be found in the admin console > Menu > Applications > Google Workspace > Drive and Docs > Manage shared drives. For each shared drive, an administrator can manage members or adjust sharing settings, among other options.

What is your experience ?

One obvious use for these enhanced visitor sharing capabilities is to collect content on a shared drive without having to worry about whether everyone has a Google account or not. Have you used visitor sharing to collaborate on Google Drive? Is adding the ability to upload and create content on a shared drive useful?

Mention me or send me a message on Twitter (@awolber) to let me know how you use Google Workspace’s visitor sharing features.

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