How to Share Google Sheets: Everything You Need to Know

Sharing

When Google Sheets launched in 2006, one of its most exciting features was real-time collaboration. Years later, it still feels like magic to share and collaborate on Google spreadsheets with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Note that sharing and collaboration are slightly different features:

  • Collaboration, where you and others work on the same spreadsheet at the same time or at separate times.
  • Sharing, where you simply publish your spreadsheet so others can use it, and even make their own copies depending on permission levels.

How to Share Google Sheets

Note: you can share a Google spreadsheet through a desktop browser or a mobile device. This walk-through focuses on desktop sharing. Google’s help docs include tips for mobile collaboration.

You can easily share a Google spreadsheet with anyone via their email address. However, only people with a Google Account will be able to edit the Google Sheet.

1 – Open the file you want to share and click the green “Share” button in the upper right corner of your screen

2 – Enter the email addresses for each person with whom you want to share your spreadsheet.

3 – Set sharing limits. When you share a Google Sheet, you can choose what they can do with it. The levels are:

  • View: The lowest level of access. People can view, but can’t change or share the file with others
  • Comment: People can make comments and suggestions, but can’t change or share the file with others.
  • Edit: The highest level of access. People can make changes, accept or reject suggestions, share the file with others, add or remove specific people, and copy, print, or download the file. Note: this is the default level of sharing in Google Sheets.
  • Advanced Settings: If you click the “Advanced” link in the lower right corner of the “Share with others” window, you can additionally prevent editors from changing access and adding new people, and disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers.

4 – Add a message (optional). Add a note to explain why you are sharing the spreadsheet or to include any special instructions.

5 – Send – Click the blue “send” button in the lower-left corner of the dialog box to share the spreadsheet

Stop, limit, or change sharing

After you share a file, you can stop sharing it at any time. You can also prevent people from making any changes or sharing your file.

To stop sharing a Google spreadsheet:

  1. Open the spreadsheet
  2. Click Share
  3. At the bottom right of the “Share with others” window, click Advanced.
  4. Next to the person, you want to stop sharing with, click Delete 
  5. Click Save changes.

To prevent commenters and viewers from downloading, printing, or copying your file:

If you’re sharing a file, the owner or anyone with edit access can change the sharing settings for the file.

  1. Open the file you want to limit.
  2. Click Share
  3. In the bottom right, click Advanced.
  4. Check the box next to “Disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers.”
  5. Click Save changes and click Done.

Note: You can limit how people share, print, download, and copy within Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, but you can’t stop how others share the file content in other ways, including copying and pasting contents from your file into another file.

How to make it so only you can share a Google Sheet

  1. Click Share
  2. In the bottom right, click Advanced.
  3. Check the box next to “Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people.”
  4. Click Save changes and click Done.

Note: If you prevent sharing of a folder, it only applies to the folder. To turn this on for the files inside, you have to change the settings for the files inside.

Set an expiration date for a file

This option is only available for people with educational or paid G Suite accounts. To set an expiration date for a file:

  1. Click Share or Share 
  2. At the bottom right of the “Share with others” window, click Advanced.
  3. Under “Who has access,” move your cursor over the person you want to limit and click Set expiration 
  4. Next to “Access expires,” click the number of days to change the expiration date. Choose a date within one year of the current date.
  5. Click Save changes.

How to share & collaborate on a spreadsheet with more than 100 people

Up to 100 people with view, edit, or comment permissions can work on Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides file at the same time. When more than 100 people are accessing a file, only the owner and some users with editing permissions can edit the file.

If you need many people to view a file at once, publish it and create a link to share to viewers. You can give edit access to people who need to edit or comment on the file. Learn how to publish a file

Publishing a file makes it visible to everyone on the web. Be careful when publishing private or sensitive info. If you have an account through work or school, your administrator can limit who can view a published file. If you’re an administrator, learn how to control who can publish documents to the web.

To remove a file from the web, you must stop publishing it. Learn how to stop publishing a file.

To stop sharing a file with collaborators, learn how to change sharing permissions.

Sharing A Template in Google Sheets

Share Google Sheets Template

It’s easy to share a Google Sheet as a template that others can use and edit:

Open your Google Sheet and click the green share button in the upper right corner of the screen.

Click “get shareable link” and select “anyone with link can view,” then click “copy link.”

You’ll then get a link that looks like:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/&lt;spreadsheetID>/<strong>edit?usp=sharing</strong> 

To use the document as a template, change the last part of the URL from

/edit?usp=sharing

to

/template/preview

The link should should look like this:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/<spreadsheetID>/template/preview

Now, when someone opens the link they’ll see a preview of the file with a blue “Use template” button.

If you want to stop sharing a file you own:

If you share a file with people, you (or anyone with edit permissions) can change the sharing settings for the file. Learn how to do this here.

If you don’t want anyone to publicly access your file, stop publishing the file.

When you see anonymous or unknown people in a shared Google Sheet file

People you invite individually will show by name when they’re in the file. People you didn’t invite individually will show as anonymous animals when they’re in the file.

You might see a name you don’t recognize or “anonymous animals” viewing your document, spreadsheet, or presentation. This can happen when a document is shared publicly or with anyone who has the link.

  • Read more about anonymous sharing from Google.

Remove Google Sheets files or folders people have shared with you

If someone shared a file or folder with you that you don’t want to see anymore, you can remove it:Go to drive.google.com.

  • On the left, click Shared with me.
  • Right-click the file you want to remove.
  • Click Remove.

Note: You can’t remove files stored in shared drives.

Tracking changes made by others in shared Google Sheets

If you’re collaborating with several people on a single file, it can be difficult to pinpoint who made certain changes and when. Fortunately, Google Sheets has robust features for seeing who made changes to a shared file. You can:

  • See all changes to a file or revert to a previous version.
  • See what’s changed since you last opened a file
  • See who’s viewed your file or who you’ve shared it with
  • See who commented, edited, moved, or shared a file

Read more about tracking changes here.

Collaboration in Google Sheets – Email, Chat, Comments

Beyond sharing in Google Sheets, you can also actively collaborate with others in real-time via chat. You can also collaborate asynchronously by assigning tasks, sending email, and leaving comments directly in the spreadsheet.

Live chat with others in a Google Sheet

If you work on a Google Sheet at the same time as other people, you can chat with each other inside the spreadsheet.

  1. On your computer, open a document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
  2. At the top right, click Chat Chat. This feature won’t be available if you’re the only one in the file.
  3. Enter your message in the chat box.
  4. When you’re finished, at the top right of the chat window, click Close Close.

Note: All chats in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides include anyone viewing the file. The chats aren’t saved.

Email collaborators in Google Sheets

You can easily email collaborators right from Google Sheets. This is especially helpful when you want to ask questions about a spreadsheet or follow up on a conversation that’s too long for comments.

  • Open your Google Sheets file. Click File > Email collaborators. (Optional, shared drive files only)
  • To email all members of the shared drive, check the Members box. (Optional)
  • Change the email recipients or add a subject. Add a message. (Optional)
  • To send a copy of the email to yourself, check the Send a copy to myself box. (Optional, Drive files only)
  • To paste the file directly into the email, check the Paste the item itself into the email box. Click Send.

Add comments and assign tasks in Google Sheets

Add Comments And Assign Tasks In Google Sheets
  • In Google Sheets, select the cell or text you’d like to comment on.
  • Click Add comment
  • Enter your comment in the box.
  • (Optional) To direct your task or comment to a specific person, enter a plus sign (+) followed by their email address. You can add as many people as you want. Each person will get an email with your comment and a link to the file.
  • (Optional) To assign the comment to a specific person, check the Assign to box.
  • Click Comment or Assign.

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