How to Keep Google Docs Private

627083 How to Keep Google Docs Private

Google Docs is a popular cloud-based document editing service that allows real-time collaboration between users. While the convenience and accessibility of Google Docs is useful, you may have documents, files or data that you want to keep private and secure. Here are some tips on how to keep your Google Docs private.

Set Sharing Permissions

When you share a Google Doc, you can customize the access permissions:

  • Viewer – Can view the document but cannot edit or share
  • Commenter – Can view and add comments but cannot edit
  • Editor – Has full edit access and can share the document

Set the sharing permission to “Viewer” or “Commenter” if you want others to only view or comment on the document. Only give “Editor” access to those who really need to edit the content.

To set permissions:

1. Click the Share button
2. Click Change next to access permissions
3. Select Viewer, Commenter or Editor 

Limit Sharing Abilities

As the owner, you can limit the abilities of editors and viewers:

  • Prevent editors from changing permissions or sharing
  • Disable printing, downloading and copying for viewers

This prevents editors from accidentally changing privacy settings or viewers from distributing the content.

To limit abilities:

1. Click Share
2. Click Advanced
3. Check disable options for viewers/editors

Set Expiration Dates

You can set an expiration date on a shared document to limit access to a specific time period. After the expiration date, the document will no longer be accessible.

To set expiration date: 

1. Click Share
2. Click the Down arrow next to an email address  
3. Select expiration date

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Enable two-factor authentication on your Google account for an extra layer of security. This requires you to enter a code from your mobile device whenever logging in from a new device.

Be Careful When Sharing Links Publicly

When you create a shareable link, this gives anyone with the link access. Be very careful about sharing links publicly on sites or social media.

Use Google Drive File Stream

Google Drive File Stream allows you to access Cloud content through a special folder on your desktop. This gives you an extra backup and integrates Drive files with your local storage.

Encrypt Sensitive Documents

You can encrypt documents before uploading them to Google Drive using third-party encryption software. This prevents Google or hackers from accessing the content.

Use Third-Party Apps

Apps like Cryptomator allow client-side encryption so Google does not have the keys to decrypt your content. This provides an extra layer of security.

Review Sharing Settings Regularly

Periodically review the sharing settings on sensitive documents to make sure access has not changed or expanded without your knowledge.

Enable 2-Step Verification on Your Account

2-step verification requires you to enter a code sent to your mobile device when logging into your Google account from a new device. This prevents unauthorized access to your account.

Be Cautious of Third-Party Apps

Be cautious when granting third-party apps access to your Google Drive, as this could allow them to access your documents without your knowledge. Review connected apps regularly.

Remove Local Copies from Devices

When you access Google Docs on your computer or mobile devices, local copies may be temporarily stored. Make sure to delete these copies when no longer needed to prevent unauthorized access if a device is lost or stolen.

Use Google Drive Audit Logs

Audit logs allow Workspace administrators to track various events like sharing, accessing, editing etc. Review these logs periodically to detect suspicious activity.


Google Docs provides useful collaboration features, but privacy and security should still be a top concern when sharing sensitive documents. Utilize sharing settings, restrictions, encryption and other security measures to keep your Google Docs private and prevent unauthorized access. Periodically review your sharing permissions and connected services and apps to ensure documents are not unintentionally exposed. With the proper precautions, you can safely take advantage of Google Docs while still maintaining privacy over sensitive data.

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