Choosing the Best Link Sharing Setting in Google Drive

To ensure you're using the best sharing setting for the information you have in your Google Drive, it can help to think about it as if it were on paper. Here are the options, with examples of the types of documents they might be appropriate for:


On - Public on the Web: 

This is like posting the file on a bulletin board in every coffee shop in the world. This could be used for:

  • Things that you want to be shared and distributed publicly
  • Examples: PDFs of campaign promotional materials like posters and yard signs


On - Anyone with a link can view:

This is like posting the file on the bulletin board at a coffee shop. Anyone with the link can share it with anyone else. This could be used for:

  • Instructions for volunteers (Don’t include things like the WiFi password for your office)
  • Staging locations for canvassing
  • Position papers on issues
  • Remarks as given from candidate speeches


On - [Your Organization’s Name]: 

This option will only appear if you are sharing from a G Suite Account

This is like posting the file on a bulletin board in a lunchroom that’s restricted to staff. This could be used for things that you want to make available organization-wide, but not public:

  • Talking points
  • Notes from non-sensitive campaign staff meetings
  • Contact information for campaign staff
  • Emergency response procedures (think fire safety plans, not how to respond to a negative attack ad)


On - Anyone at [Your Organization] with the link: 

This option will only appear if you are sharing from a G Suite Account

This is like giving out copies to each person in your workplace, that you want to share it with. They could share it with others in your workplace. 

We do not recommend using this option. Instead, use Off - Specific People -  a very similar option that doesn’t allow unauthorized viewers to request access. This option can prevent someone from accidentally granting access to a person who’s unauthorized, but requested access anyway. For more information about this risk, please read A Warning about the "Request Access" Option in Google Drive.


Off - Specific People

This is like posting it in your office and inviting specific people in to view it, regardless of whether you work with them. Because the information is shared by invitation only, it is the safest option and should be the default for everyone except those authorized by the campaign to determine what information can be shared more broadly. This could be used for:

  • Information about donors that’s not available in public donor reports. 
  • Strategy documents
  • Plans for responding to political emergencies like an attack ad or disinformation campaign
  • Drafts of talking points or candidate speeches
  • Opposition research about opponents
  • Voter file or similar voter data, particularly in states where access to this information is legally restricted
  • Internal polling results


In addition to these Link Sharing options, you will see checkboxes at the bottom of the window that say:

  • Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people - Checking this prevents people who can edit the document from being able to change the link sharing setting. 
  • Disable options to download, print and copy for commenters and viewers - Checking this makes it harder, but not impossible, for those who can only comment and view the material, to make their own copies of it, and distribute it as they wish. 

No matter which link sharing option you have, you can choose to allow folks who access your materials to Edit, Comment, or View. Be sure to select the option that best matches the audience who will access the document and your intentions for sharing it. For example, most of the time, you will likely want to select View for anything that’s Public, or that Anyone with a link can view. Comment allows someone to make changes to the body of a document, but these changes are marked in a different color, and the owner of the document can accept or reject them. Someone who can Edit a document can make changes that are only tracked in the version history, and that don’t require the document owner’s approval. If you’re sharing a document with folks you’re collaborating with, you will likely want to allow them to Comment or Edit

Please note that if you share a Google Drive item to an email that is not a Google account, it is the same as choosing “Anyone with a link can view.” When you do this, you should see the warning below. To send the link, you can choose between sending them an invitation to sign in with a Google account or to access the document without signing in. In either case, anyone with access to the invitation email will be able to access the linked document.


Of course, there are some things that you should avoid saving in Google Drive altogether.

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