Because of the nature of my work, I have to share a lot of files and folders from within Google Drive. Most times those files and folders are shared with editors who need to be able to edit documents. However, again because of the nature of my work, I don’t always want those editors to be able to, say, copy, download, share, and print out my work.

But how is it possible to be able to share a document, allow an editor to do their work, but prevent them from acting beyond that one task?

Rights management.

Google has done an outstanding of giving you, the owner of a document or folder, the ability to fine-tune the rights. The only caveat to this is that it cannot be managed on the Android or iOS versions of Google Drive. If you have a Chromebook or you access your Google Drive through a desktop browser, you’re in luck… you can manage the rights with ease.

Of course, what you are sharing will dictate what you can manage. For instance:

  • Folders–prevent editors from changing access or adding new people
  • Files–prevent editors from changing access or adding people and disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters or viewers

How do you do this? It’s quite simple, actually. Let me walk you through the steps:

  1. Open Google Drive
  2. Navigate to the folder or file you want to manage
  3. Right-click on the file or folder
  4. Click Share
  5. Share the file or folder as normal (but don’t click Done yet)
  6. Click Advanced
  7. Click to enable the features you want (Figure A)
  8. Click Done

Figure A

At this point, the document rights are locked down and only the owner has full rights. Should an editor attempt to download a copy of the file, they will find the feature disabled. Should the editor attempt to print a copy of the document… no go. The newly appointed rights will affect both desktop and mobile versions of Drive–so a user cannot bypass the rights management but hopping onto a mobile version of the app.

If you need to lock the rights of your Google Drive documents and folders, Google has made it possible. Consider taking the extra time to manage the rights when you share from Drive–it just might save you from the wrong person with the wrong intentions.

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