Google Drive is great for sharing individual files, but grouping them together into folders is a great way to stay organized with your team. Sharing permissions can be little bit tricky with folders, so that’s something to be aware of before you start sharing sensitive information.

You can create a folder just like any other file in Google Drive, and can also apply the same sharing permissions as well. When you apply sharing permissions to a folder, it will override all of the existing sharing permissions of the contained files.

The best way to make sure all the files in a folder have the appropriate sharing permissions is to go in and change them individually. One of our favorite tricks is the ability to hide files within a folder. To do so, just share your folder with the members of your team, then open up the file and remove everyone who shouldn’t have access to it.

That way, whenever they open up the shared folder, they will only see the file that they have access to, and not the hidden file. This is a great way to organize information, while still making sure only the relevant parties have access to the correct files.

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3 thoughts on “Managing Shared Folders in Google Drive

  1. Derick Neel Reply

    “When you apply sharing permissions to a folder, it will override all of the existing sharing permissions of the contained files.”
    I’m not sure this is always true. We had a user leave the company and I had to go through and designate “Owners” for the files and folders left behind by him. The Owner-to-be already had Change permissions to the folder and files within. When I changed the main containing folder from “Change” to “Owner” the new owner only received ownership of the top folder. All of the files and folder below remained with the original user. I had to go through each folder and select all files within and change owner over and over again.
    This is something I had to be very careful with doing because when I eventually delete the original owner, any file that didn’t get transferred is going to be removed without anyone with Share permissions to those files knowing what happened.

  2. Bob Buchko Reply

    Hi Derick, unfortunately, Ownership is not really a share permission, even though it is set via the Share menu. As you’ve already seen, it will only be applied to the specific item (folder or file) you’re editing. If you want to transfer the entire contents of one user’s Drive to another’s, you can do this via the Admin Panel. Go to Google Apps > Drive > Transfer ownership. Make sure the destination account has enough storage space to accommodate all files. Otherwise both accounts will get an error via email and you’ll need to clear some space and start again.

    As for other permissions, folder permissions will always be ADDED to existing permissions unless there’s a conflict. So, if I share a file at view level with Steve, and then I add the file to a folder that I’ve given Mary edit permission to, then the file’s share permissions will show both Steve (view) and Mary (edit).

    However, if I share a file at view level with Steve, and then I add the file to a folder that I’ve given STEVE edit permission to, the highest permission level will override the other. Steve will now be able to edit the file.

    I go into more detail here:

    Hope this helps!

  3. Bill Reply

    I’m a little confused – you seem to contradict yourself, could you clarify please?

    You note that setting permissions on a folder overrides the permissions present on files within the folder.

    You then note that to hide a file within the folder to go to that file and remove individuals.

    These statements seem to contradict each other. The latter would override the former, yet you’ve said the former overrides the latter.

    Is it possible that what you mean is … the last set permissions, be it folder or file, overrides the other?

    Which would say that your statements above don’t actually contradict … until the folder permissions are changed?

    e.g. Set as you note, then add permissions for another person at the folder level – will the so called hidden files become unhidden?


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