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Files in Shared Drives and files shared in My Drive are NOT the same! Shared files from a My Drive are tied to an owner, whereas files in a Shared Drive are owned by the University. If a user leaves the University, files that exist in a Shared Drive will not be affected, whereas files that have been shared out through a user's My Drive will be lost. 


There are many ways to collaborate and share files amongst users with your Google Workspace Drive account. The recommended method for collaboration is through the use of Shared Drives. 

Shared Drives

Shared Drives are the recommended method for sharing files amongst a larger population and projects requiring more permanent storage solutions. 

Shared Drives provide a centralized workspace to share and collaborate on documents, separate from your My Drive. All users currently have the ability to create and manage their own Shared Drives. 

Creating Shared Drive

  1. Log into Google Workspace using your account
  2. Navigate to Google Drive 
  3. From the left navigation bar, select Shared Drives 
  4. Select New in the top of the left navigation bar
  5. Provide a name for the Shared Drive, then select Create

Shared Drive Permissions

Individual File Permissions

Individual files within a Shared Drive can NOT be fully restricted from other users with permission to the Shared Drive. A user may be downgraded from editor to view for an individual file, but it is not possible to fully restrict view access from a named user in the Shared Drive permissions. 

Permissions designate what variety of access a user has within a Shared Drive.

Permission Types

One of the following 4 permissions can be applied per named user, each compounding from the permission prior:

  • Viewer
  • Commenter
  • Contributor Add & edit files
  • Content Manager Move & delete files
  • Manager Can manage permissions

Adding/Editing Permissions

Requires Manager permission

  1. Navigate to the Shared Drive
  2. Select Manage members from the top-right
  3. Search and select the desired user (users need to be added one at a time)
  4. Set the permission type for the user (see Permission Types above)
  5. Toggle to send communication to user (optional), notifying through email that they were added to Shared Drive
  6. Select Share

Removing Permissions

Requires Manager permission

  1. Navigate to the Shared Drive
  2. Select Manage members from the top-right
  3. Locate the desired user in the list
  4. Select their current role dropdown on the right-side of the desired user record, then select Remove access from the list

Shared Drive FAQ

What happens to files added by a deleted user to a Shared Drive? 

As Shared Drives and all files within are owned by the organization and not the deleted user, files added by deleted users will remain in the Shared Drive. 

Are there storage limits on Shared Drives? 

Yes, Shared Drives have storage limits. Currently, Shared Drives are limited to 100,000 files. 

My Drive Shared Files

Shared Drives are Recommended

Sharing files through your My Drive is great for quick and temporary sharing of a small quantity of files. For anything with a larger audience or something requiring a more permanent solution, Shared Drives are the suggested path. 

Files and folders that exist within My Drive can be shared ad-hoc for express collaboration. Through this method, ownership is still retained to a specific user. As the file owner, the file is tied to the specific user's account. If the user is removed from Google Workspace, all files owned by that user will be removed as well. Ownership can be transferred, as outlined below.

Transferring File or Folder Ownership

Sharing a file is not the same as transferring ownership to a different user. When transferring ownership to a different user, they become the owner and the file(s) and/or folder(s) then exist within the different user's account. This method is preferred for users that leaving the University and own documents. Must be performed as the current file/folder owner!

  1. Select desired file/folder 
  2. In the sidebar on the left showing file details, select Manage access
  3. Select the current role dropdown of the desired user to take ownership, then select Transfer ownership
  4. On the following dialogue, select Yes to verify the ownership transfer

Copying Shared Files

Shared With Me items are files and folders owned by another user that have been shared with you, existing in a user's My Drive. If you are not the owner of a file that has been shared with you, you do not have permission to modify the owner, and the only option would be to make a copy. That copy would then be owned by you. 

My Drive Shared Files FAQ

What happens to files owned and shared through My Drive by a deleted user? 

Files owned by the deleted user will also be completely deleted. 

Why was my Google account deleted? 

If a user is no longer part of an academically active affiliation (Including, but not limited to: Alumni, PA Instructor, Ugrad Applicant), they no longer qualify for an account with the University's Google Workspace. 

If I USER A own a file in another user's USER B My Drive and their USER B account is deleted, what happens to files owned by me USER A that existed in their USER B My Drive? 

Files you USER Aown will move from their USER B account into the root of your USER A My Drive.

If I USER A own a folder in My Drive, containing a subfolder owned by another user USER B, containing files owned by me USER A, what happens to files owned by me USER A if the other user USER B is deleted? 

Files owned by you USER A will be retained, however will lose all prior structure and move to the root of your USER A My Drive.