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Google Shared Drives

Google Shared Drives Overview

Google Shared Drives allows users to create and manage shared file storage within the Google Drive platform. Folders and files in Shared Drives are owned by a team rather than an individual account.  That means that a document in a Shared Drive will not be lost if an individual leaves the college, as can happen with shared documents that are saved in an individual’s account.

Shared Drives also allow for permission levels to be set for each member at the Drive level. Those access levels then apply to any folder or document stored within the Shared Drive for that person.


Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when using Google Shared Drives.

  • Shared Drives should be considered:
    • for offices and groups that want to make documents available easily to staff and members.

    • for group collaboration, especially if the resulting document will be viewed or updated by multiple people on an ongoing basis.

    • for storing documents that support an on-going office, formal group or operational function.

    • for documents that are currently stored on an individual user’s Google Drive, but would need to remain available to others at Smith if that person left the college.

  • When setting up a Shared Drive for a particular group, name the drive in a way that will help identify its formal group affiliation and purpose.

  • The access level a team member is given on a Shared Drive will become the default access level they are assigned on folders and documents within that Drive. A member’s access level can be increased on a specific folder or file within a Shared Drive, but cannot be decreased.

Get Started

ITS recommends reviewing What are shared drives in the Google’s Learning Center prior to using Shared Drives.

  1. Open Google Drive.
  2. Click Shared drives in the left navigation column.
  3. Click the blue NEW, and name your shared drive.
  4. Select Manage members at the top left.
  5. Type in names or email addresses and choose what type of access they should have using the pulldown menu. The default level is Content manager.

    Note: Shared drives should have at least two accounts with the Manager level. This will ensure that there will always be at least one user who can add and remove new members as well as set access levels (in case one leaves the college).

Files into Shared Drive Folders

To move files from a Google Drive to a Shared Drive, there are a few things you should know first.

  1. You must have either full or edit rights to that Shared Drive.
  2. You must own the Google Drive file(s).
  3. Are the Google Drive file(s) already shared with others? People will lose access to those files once they are moved.

View your Access Rights:

  1. You will only see Shared Drives you have created or been given some type of rights to access.
  2. Double-click to open a Shared Drive.
  3. Above the column heading, click on the number of members.
  4. Find yourself in the list, across from your name your access rights are listed.


Move Google Drive Files to Shared Drive

Before moving files it is recommended you create any desired folder structure within a Shared Drive.

  1. Select the file(s) within a Google Drive folder.
  2. Right-mouse click on the selected file(s), select Move to from the dropdown menu or select Move to from the More actions menu (the three vertical dots in the upper right).
  3. Use the left arrow next to where it says My Drive back until you see Shared drives.
  4. Use the arrow forward to locate and select the folder in Shared Drives.
  5. Click Move Here.

Note:  If any of these files were shared with other users, a warning message will appear letting you know that some people may lose access.

Upload Files from your Computer

  1. Select a Shared Drive folder.
  2. From your Windows File Explorer or the Mac Finder screen, select and drag an existing file or files to upload.  Or
  3. From the Shared Drive folder click New, select File upload from the menu.
  4. Navigate to and select the file(s) (they must be in the same folder).
  5. Click Open, the file(s) selected will be upload to the Shared Drive folder.


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Copyright © 2015 Smith College Information Technology Services  |  Last updated February 7, 2024

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