Software

How to collaborate in Team Drive with someone who doesn't have a Google account

Sharing items with people outside your organization works differently for Google Drive and Team Drives. Here's how to make sure your collaborators gain access.

Illustration: Google account image (left) with "Gmail optional" tag hanging off it; Arrows pointing to Google Drive and Team Drive on right; Arrow from word "Anyone" pointing to Google Drive
Image: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

A client who uses G Suite created a new Team Drive, then attempted to share it with about 30 people. And 27 people in the group were added with no problem. The recipients received an email notification, and could access the Team Drive after they accepted the offer to share.

But when my client tried to add three email addresses, they saw a message that said: "Sharing to email addresses without a Google account is not yet supported."

Team Drive sharing differs from Google Drive "My Drive" sharing. When you share a folder from "My Drive" to someone without a Google account you might see the following: "Since there is no Google account associated with this email address, anyone holding this invitation will have access without signing in." (Of course, if you have a G Suite account, an administrator controls sharing options for your organization.) On mobile devices, you may see a simple "Sharing error" message.

Screenshot of respective notification messages (detailed in article)

As of November 2017, Team Drive sharing requires a Google account, My Drive sharing may not. Here's the message you might see when you share to an email address that lacks an associated Google account. Top: Team Drive, Bottom: Google My Drive.

Team Drive requires members to have a Google account, while Google "My Drive" sharing can allow access to anyone with the link. However, this shouldn't stop you from using a Team Drive to collaborate with people outside your organization.

1. Ask for an alternative address

Contact the people you were unable to add as members of your Team Drive to ask for an alternative address. Chances are they probably have a Gmail account: over 1 billion people use Gmail monthly. If they do, add them as a member with this address.

2. Create a Google account

If a person who wants to join a Team Drive and doesn't have an existing Google account, they'll need to create one. There are two ways to do this.

You can create a Google account to use with your current email address. In other words, you don't have to create a Gmail account to access Google services. Go to https://accounts.google.com/SignUpWithoutGmail and use your existing email address in the "Your email address" field.

Or, if you'd rather create a new Gmail address, go to https://accounts.google.com/SignUp and enter the address you want in the "Choose your username" field.

In either case, creating a Google account requires that you also create a password, provide a first and last name, a birth date, and a country. You also must fill out a gender field, although you can select "Rather not say." A mobile number is optional.

Screenshot of (left) Google account creation form using your own email address, and (right) creating a new Gmail address.

You can sign up for a Google account with an existing email address (left), or sign up and get a new Gmail account (right).

3. Send separately

Collaboration via Team Drives grinds to a halt if a person you need to collaborate with lacks a Gmail account, and won't create a Google account. Your best option at that point? Export and send documents as attachments via email. Not very collaborative, and not at all efficient. But at least they'll get the information.

How do you deal with sharing files with people outside your organization? If you've used both Google Drive and Team Drive file sharing, which do you prefer for sharing info with groups of people? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@awolber).

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About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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