Give them their own copy of the document

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Have you ever created a file in Google Workspace (Docs, Sheets, or Slides) and wanted to share it with someone, but wanted them to not modify the original and just make a copy of it for themselves? You could tell them to go to the menu and choose File, make a copy, … and hope for the best! Unfortunately, we can’t control whether they make a copy or not.

Here are two ways you can “force a copy”.

Force Copy Method #1:

  1. Create your document, then click the “Share” button in the top right corner. Make sure the general access is set to “Anyone with the link can view” or just within your organization.
  2. Click on “Copy link” to get the shareable link.
  3. Paste that link somewhere you can edit it, such as another doc or a new browser tab. Look to the end of the URL. It will usually end with “/edit” or something similar.
  4. Delete the “/edit” part (and anything that follows) and replace it with “/copy”.
  5. Share the modified link and when they click on it, they will be prompted to make a copy of the document directly to their Google Drive. This ensures they get their own version and cannot alter the original.

Force Copy Method #2:

With the above method, they won’t see the document before they make a copy of it. The second method allows the user to view the content first and then decide if they want a copy. When you provide a document as a template, users are prompted to create their own copy when they access the link.

The setup is similar to the first method listed (Steps 1-3) but in Step 4, instead of replacing “/edit” with “/copy”, you would replace it with “/template/preview”. Once they click the link, they will be able to view the document and if they would like a copy, they will see a “Use Template” button in the top right corner. This will also create a copy of the document in the user’s Google Drive, ensuring the original is not altered.

Robin Bridson