How to get a link to a document in Drive

If you work on documents in Google Drive, the “files” portion of our Google Workspace, you might need staff, board, or committee members to collaborate with you or leave feedback in the document. The correct way to share documents is to share a link to the file that’s in Drive, not to email it as an attachment.

Why sending a link is better than attaching a file

In the old days, we commonly emailed copies of documents to each other to do these things, but that practice is outdated. When you email a document to someone, you create duplicate copies and potentially create confusion and clog up email. Sending an attachment creates a copy of the file in all these places:

  • The original copy in Drive
  • The copy on your computer that you downloaded
  • The copy in the sent folder in your email
  • One copy each for every person you sent it to (attached to the email)
    • If they open the attachment in Google Drive, a new copy is created in that person’s own Google Drive.
    • If they open the attachment on their computer, now they have a copy on their computer.

Plus, and most importantly, when there’s only one document, all updates occur in the same document, so it’s always current. The potential confusion of “are you looking at the correct version of the (document name)?” is avoided completely.

How to get a link to a file in Drive

These instructions assume that you have permissions to the drive and folders for the document for which you want to obtain a link.

Before you get a link to a file, consider who will be receiving the link, and if they have permissions to edit the drive or the file. You can give them a link only to the file and allow anyone with the link to edit the file, or you can give them a link that’s only useable if the person already has permissions to the file or containing folder or drive. (If you need help with this, please contact your committee chair or send me an email.)

To get a link for a file stored in Drive:

  1. First, log in to Google, select the Apps menu (looks like a touch-tone phone pad) in the upper-right corner and then select Drive.
    Select Drive from the apps menu
  2. Select Shared with me on the left side of Drive. (Note if you’re the drive owner, you would select My Drive instead.
    Select Shared with me
  3. Select the folders and then the subfolders that contain the file. Ask the owner of the document about which folders you need to access if you’re not sure.
    1. The pictures show selecting the folders for the Orders of Service, then the folder for the service year and month, then the folder for the specific service date.
      Select the folder     Select the sub folder
  4. Right-click the file for which you want the link and select Get link from the context menu.
    select Get Link
  5. Click the Copy link button and then click Done.
    select Copy link

    • Note that the pop-up menu in the image indicates that this link is “Restricted” which means that people who are already added to the drive will be able to use the link to open and edit the document. You can also change this to “Anyone with the link” which shares the single document with anyone, regardless of whether they have access to the drive or folder.
  6. Create an email and paste the link in the email.

If you have questions or comments about this procedure, please contact the webmaster (Karin/me).

Karin Carlson, Webmaster