Share files, folders with others in Google Drive phone app

Master file and folder sharing in the Google Drive mobile app

Samsung Galaxy Android phone showing the Google Drive app

Wherever you work, you probably share files with co-workers, clients, and others. You may be familiar with this on your computer, but what about your phone? Here is the easy way to do it.

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These days you may well be working on your own instead of a busy office and more people than ever are working remotely. If you are sitting at a computer, then logging into Google Drive and sharing files and folders is straightforward, but what if you are not?

The file and folder sharing facilities in the Google Drive app on Android phone and iPhone is actually very easy to use. If someone needs a file or access to a project folder on your Drive, don’t wait until you are next in front of your computer, just set up the shares using the phone app right away.

For this guide I will be using an Android phone, but Google Drive on the iPhone can be used the same way. There are minor interface differences, but it is mostly the same process. Start sharing!

Related articles: How to use Google Docs Explore and Google Drive Quick Access and Home office essentials: What you need to work from home

1 Browse files and folders

Google Drive app for Android

Open the Google Drive app on your phone and if you do not see a list of files and folders, tap the folder icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. Find the file you want to share and press the three dots icon on the right to show the menu.

2 Choose the Share option

File menu in Google Drive Android app

On this menu is a list of actions you can perform on the file, like sharing, adding to starred, making it available offline and so on. Press the Share option near the top

3 Add people to the share list

Select people to share files with in the Google Drive Android app

Who do you want to share the file with? Start typing their name at the top of the screen and people are suggested below. When you see the person you want, tap them to add them and save typing. You can also add people by entering their email address, such as people not in your contacts.

4 Set sharing permissions

Set sharing permissions in the Google Drive Android app

People are automatically given full permission to read, write and change the shared file. If you do not want the person or people to be able to edit and change the file contents, tap the Editor link under the name at the top and select either Viewer (can read a file, but not edit it), or Commenter (can read a file and add comments to it, like suggesting changes).

5 Send the invitation

Send an invitation to share a file in the Google Drive Android app

An invitation to view, comment or edit the file is sent to everyone in the people list by email, so enter some text below explaining what it is and why you are giving access to this file. Then press the Send button.

6 View and change permissions

See and modify sharing permissions in the Google Drive Android app

Shared files have a tiny people icon in the Google Drive file listing so you can easily see which files are shared and which are private. Suppose you want to see who has access to a shared file, after all, a month from now you might have forgotten. Perhaps you share a file and change your mind about permissions and want to change them.

Go right back to step 1 and select the file. Press the three dots menu next to the file as in step 2. Then press Share like in step 3.

As the file is already shared, this time you see a list of the people that have access and their permission is listed underneath. Tap the person and you can upgrade or downgrade their permissions, so if they have Viewer or Commenter access, you could give them Editor access to allow them to make changes to the file.

View files shared with you

View shared files in the Google Drive Android app

How do you know someone has shared a file with you? An invitation to access it arrives in your inbox. A month or two from now, however, you might have forgotten who shared what and when with you. Tap the Shared button in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen to see a list of files.

At the top are sort options and the default is date, but tap it and the list can be sorted by other attributes, such as name.

Share folders in Google Drive app

We looked at how to share files and sharing folders is exactly the same process. The only difference is that folders can contain many files. The contents of a folder have exactly the same sharing permissions as the folder.

This makes it easy to share a lot of files and instead of setting sharing permissions for dozens of files, you can simply put them in a folder and share the folder once.

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