Google Drive – Visibility versus Sharing

Another key distinction is the difference between Visibility and Sharing. To get to these settings, check a file or folder and click the symbol at the top-left of the screen. Then you will see something like this:

The top box here is the link that you can send to others to view or collaborate on the document. The next setting, where it says “Private – Only the people listed below can access”, is the visibility. This is a broad setting that defines who can view, edit, and search for the file. There are five different options for it:

1 – Public on the web – means that anyone can search for the file and then either view it or edit it

2 – Anyone with the link – you want to use this if you’re emailing a public file out to a group of people, or if you’re embedding the file in a particular website but don’t want it to be searchable.

3-4 – These are the same as options 1-2, but they are designed for documents that are only for the organization, in this case UNIS Hanoi. Note that if you set a document to be visible to anyone at UNIS Hanoi, it doesn’t mean that they get an invitation to it. In fact, it’s hard for them to even search for the document. This option seems like it should be useful, but in fact it isn’t.

5 – Private – This is the default setting, and probably the most useful one. It keeps documents private for you and only the people or groups that you specifically list.

Below the visibility, where it says “Private – Only the people listed below can access”, is listed the Sharing settings. Here you see the individuals with whom the document is explicitly given access, in this case Paul Swanson, Ed Gilbreath, Robert Appino, and Sybille Hearth. To the right of their name you see their levels of access.

Every document has one and only one owner. Only the owner of a document can permanently delete it. Other levels of access include Edit, Comment, and View Only. When you add someone to Sharing, the default setting is to send them an email invitation. From that email they can open the file, and then if they want to they can add it to their My Drive. If you choose to not send an email invitation, then they will not know that the file is shared with them unless they check their Shared with Me.

Also note that, by default, people with edit access to a document can also add other people to edit or view that document. If you don’t want them to be able to adjust the permissions, and you are the owner of the document, click the link for “Change” next to “Editors will be allowed to add people and change the permissions.” There you can change this setting.