Google Docs makes it easier to share--or not

Search giant launches series of new options for Google Docs designed to help people more easily share files by marking them public or private.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Google has rolled out out a few new tweaks to its Google Docs platform to give people greater control over how to share and collaborate on documents with their colleagues.

Google Docs users will now be able to set the visibility of each document in one of three ways to determine whether and how it's public or private. The "Public on the Web" option lets anyone on the Internet find and access your document. You can publish its URL on any public Web page, and the document itself is indexed by Google and other search engines.

The new document settings in Google Docs.
The new document settings in Google Docs. Google

The "Anyone with a link" option lets people access the document only if they know its hyperlink, which you typically send to them via e-mail. And the "Private" option restricts a document's access to only yourself or those who have been granted permission to view it.

By default, all documents you create start off as private, so only you can view and edit them. You can also change the properties of a shared document to control whether other people can edit it or just view it.

A document's current visibility setting appears next to its title in the Docs list and can be seen with the document itself. Clicking on the visibility setting lets you view who has access to the document and allows you to change its setting to one of the other options. You can select multiple documents in the Docs list and view or change their settings in one shot. Finally, you can now reset the URL for a document to better control who has access to it.

Google has been striving to offer businesses and individuals an alternative to Microsoft Office by promoting its cloud-based Google Docs and Google Apps platforms. The search giant joins a few other companies with free or low-cost Office alternatives, both online and offline. For its part, Microsoft has countered by recently launching its own variation of a free online tool in the form of Office Web Apps.