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Google Drive: Moving, Deleting (and Not Deleting) Shared Items

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google drive shared2Here at TSS Training Team headquarters, we get a fair number of questions about moving and deleting Google Drive documents and spreadsheets that are shared with others. If I delete a document that is in a shared folder, are others in the group now unable to see it? When is it safe to move a document, and when is it not? It can be quite confusing. The following is our attempt to make sense of the whole thing.

  1. When is it safe (and not safe) to DELETE a file or folder?

A file or folder IS safe to delete:

  • If you are not sharing it with anyone else
  • If you are sharing it with someone else but they are OK with you deleting it
  • If it is a shared document or folder that is in your “My Drive” area, provided you are not the owner

Here’s when you should think twice before deleting a file or folder:

  • If you delete a document that is in a shared folder and not in your My Drive area, it will be deleted for others as well
  • If you delete a document you are the Owner of, it will deleted for others you have shared it with (unless you change the Owner first)


  1.   How can I tell whether a document or folder is shared or not?

For individual documents, sheets, etc.:

  • Open the document and ‘hover’ with your mouse over the blue Share button on the upper right corner
  • If you click the Share button and then click “Advanced,” you can see who Owns the document as well

For Folders:

  • When viewing your folders, the ones that are shared folders have a little white “profile” icon on them, like this:
  • Folders that do NOT have this little white profile on them are folders you have created and are not sharing with others.


  1.    When is it safe to MOVE a folder from “Shared with Me” into My Drive?

When you click “Shared with Me” on the left column (see photo at right), files and folders that others have given you permissions to view or edit are listed.

  • There is no risk involved in moving a folder in “shared with me” into a folder in your “My Drive”, with one exception.
  • The exception is — when you move a “shared with me” folder into a My Drive folder that is also a shared folder, then the move will affect others who are sharing (viewing or editing) those folders.

One way to think about the exception above is this: it is similar to moving a shared drive (‘H’ drive) folder — moving a shared folder affects the folder structure for others in the group as well.

This exception also applies to shared documents you move from a “shared with me” folder into a folder in your My Drive — it will only affect others if you move it into another shared folder.

In conclusion, if you move a “shared with me” item into a folder that others also have access to (a shared folder), know that it will affect the location of this item for others. Otherwise, it will not.


  1.   When I move a “shared with me” document or folder into My Drive, will I see later edits that others make to the document(s)?

Yes. This is because you aren’t really moving it, you are just “mirroring” it in another location. It is the same copy, mirrored now in more than one folder location.


  1.   How can I tell WHO is sharing these shared folders?

Find the folder (by performing a search for it or in some other way), click to highlight it, then look at the Details Pane on the right side of your screen. (If you don’t see the Details pane, click the “i” icon on the toolbar, right side, then make sure the “Details” section is selected.)

This details pane will include a row of round icons (see picture at right). The icons represent people who can view or edit that folder or doc. Hover with your mouse to see what each icon / pic says about that person’s permissions (for example, “Angela can edit”).


  1.   Oops! I just accidentally deleted a document from a shared folder. What do I do?

First, look in your Trash. If it is there, click to highlight it and choose “restore.”

If it is not in your Trash, then you will need to contact the person who “owns” the document or folder (usually, the person who created it). They will need to perform a search for the document in question, restore it, and then move it back into the shared folder.


  1.  How do I put documents and files into a shared folder?

You cannot move new documents into a shared folder unless that folder is in your “My Drive” area, not in the “Shared with Me” area.

For this reason, if you want to put documents into one of the “Shared with Me” folders that is NOT in your My Drive group of folders, you first have to move the folder into your “My Drive” area. Once you’ve done that, then you can move documents or sub-folders into it.

Please note that moving a folder or document into your My Drive could in some cases affect others — see question #3 of this document.


  1.  If I have a shared folder, and then I create a sub-folder within it, who can edit and view documents within that sub-folder?

A sub-folder always inherits the permissions of the “parent” folder. For example, if I am sharing a folder and Max, Danese and I can edit documents within that folder, any sub-folders I create within it (and any documents within those sub-folders) can also be edited by Max, Danese, and I.

I can change this, as the owner of the sub-folder, by changing the “share” permissions for that folder.  I can also change the permissions of each individual document within that folder. But by default, the sub-folder (and its contents) inherits the permissions of the parent folder.


Disclaimer: Google Drive is an ever-changing application and some features and behaviors may change over time.



There is one comment for this article. If you see something that doesn't belong, please click the x and report it.

x by ravi 1 year ago

this article was very informative.. understood Google drive better now

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