Sharing Google Docs: One link to edit, one link to view

Lots of people posted tips in the Google Helpouts Discuss community, but the tips were getting lost in the stream of messages. I decided to pull out the tips, rewrite them for clarity, and organize them by topic. I didn’t want to be the keeper of the document, though – no sense in my being a bottleneck! So I started a new document in Google Docs, fleshed it out, and shared the link.

To share a link that lets anyone with the link edit the document:

  1. Click on File > Share…
  2. Under Who has access, change the first line to Anyone who has the link can edit.
  3. Copy the link.
  4. Click Done.

That’s all well and good, but when it comes to publishing the document to the Web, you probably don’t want just anyone editing it. Here’s how to publish a separate read-only link:

  1. Click on File > Publish to the web…
  2. Publish the document
  3. Copy the link.

Since Google URLs are long and unwieldy, you may want to come up with custom short URLs for both the edit link and the read-only link.

Hope that helps!

  • Runar Jordahl

    You should never make a short URL for the editable link. The long URL prevents anyone from finding it, as traversing all possible URLs takes too long. If it is turned into a short URL, it can be discovered by traversing the rather limited space of short URLs.

  • Rainabba

    What about a “view” mode link for people that have edit ability (not restricting them from editing, just a mode more appropriate for just viewing)? I’ve seen drive open files in the past where I still had to hit “Open in Drive” or “Open with” to go deeper.

  • Mark Haferkamp

    Make sure to compare the URLs Google gives you! I found that the only difference (after Google’s redirection from an organization-specific part of the URL) was “pubhtml” vs “edit#gid=0” at the end. In fact, simply removing “pubhtml” from the end of the “read-only” link let me edit the document (in a fresh private browsing window, so nothing to do with being logged in). Unless Google makes the links nondeterministically different, this is useless against blocking even mildly sophisticated rogue editors.

    • That’s not good. Hmph!

    • allen7575

      At present, I find that the URLs are totally different, can not simply guess editable URL from published URL.

  • Random Boy 3 m

    Where’s “File > Publish to the web”?

    • If you’re looking at a Google Docs document in edit mode, you should see the menu above the toolbar. Clicking on the File item should show you the menu.