How to Unshare a Google Doc

Make docs private after they've been shared

What to Know

  • Undo link sharing: Open the File > Share menu. Select Change from the Get link section. Choose Restricted > Done.
  • Undo email sharing: Open the File > Share menu. Open the dropdown menu next to each person's name. Select Remove Save.
  • Unshare in bulk: Highlight the docs and open the Share menu. Then follow the above instructions.

This article outlines how to unshare a Google Doc or multiple documents. These directions apply to desktop users on any operating system and for iOS and Android users.

How to Unshare a Google Doc

Unsharing a shared document is just as easy as sharing one. It takes only a few clicks to unshare it and make it inaccessible to anyone but you.

Since there are two primary ways documents from Google Docs are shared, we’ll go over the unsharing process for both. Toward the bottom of this page are directions for bulk unsharing, helpful if you need to make several documents private at once.

Undo Link Sharing

If you’ve been sharing the document through its link so that anybody can access it, even if they aren’t logged in to their Google account, then follow these steps (if you're not sure, just follow along and see if it applies to your situation):

  1. With the document open, select Share from the top right side of Google Docs, or open the File > Share menu.

    Google Docs file menu.

    If you're using the mobile app, tap the person icon at the top right.

  2. Select Change from the Get link section.

    Google Docs share pane with people and groups options.

    Mobile users should tap the Who has access section at the bottom.

    If it says Anyone in this section, then these are the steps you want to follow. If it reads Restricted, then you must be sharing it with specific people—see the next set of directions below.

  3. Choose Restricted from the drop-down menu.

    Restricted share option for a Google document.

    Tap Change in the mobile app to find this menu.

  4. Select Done (if you see it) to close the share settings.

Undo Email Sharing

Do this if you’ve added people to the share list by entering their email address. You can unshare the document with specific people or everyone.

  1. Open the document and then use the File > Share menu or the large Share button at the top right to open the share settings.

    Use the person icon at the top-right if you're in the mobile app.

  2. Use the menu to the right of the person you’re sharing the file with to choose Remove.

    Google Docs share settings.

    Repeat this step for everyone on the list if you want to make this document completely private.

    Mobile users should tap the Who has access section at the bottom and then tap the person's name to find the Remove option.

    As you can see, there are other share options, so if you want the person to have some level of access, you could select Viewer instead of fully unsharing it.

  3. Select Save if you see it.

How to Unshare Google Docs in Bulk

Do you have lots of files to unshare? The instructions above are fine for a few documents, but if you have an entire folder of things you need to make private, you can select all of them at once to perform bulk actions.

If you're not sure which documents are being shared, skip down to the section at the bottom of this page to learn more about how to do that.

  1. Open Google Drive on a computer and navigate to wherever the shared files are held.

  2. Highlight the docs you want to edit the share settings for. You can do this by selecting one and then using Ctrl (equivalent to Command on macOS) to choose the others, or Ctrl+A to grab all of them, or by right-clicking the folder that contains the documents.

  3. Select Share.

    Context menu for selected files in Google Drive.
  4. To remove an email address, use the menu to the right of the person you want removed from the share, and choose Remove.

    Remove option for shared files in Google Drive.

    To delete any shared links, select Change at the bottom and then choose Anyone with the link under the doc you want private, and select Restricted.

    Restricted option for a shared Google Doc.
  5. Select Done or Save.

How to Find All Shared Google Docs

Google, unfortunately, doesn't provide a simple one-page list of everything you're sharing. As nice as it would be to see at a glance which docs aren't private so that you can adjust the share settings, there are only two Google-sanctioned methods, and neither are super helpful.

If you don't have lots of files on your Google Drive, the best way to identify the ones you're sharing is to open Google Drive and scroll through everything to look for the share icon (two heads). This indicates any share level, so if it's available via a link or shared with one or more people over email, the icon will give it away.

Share icon on Google Drive files.

Another method is to use the search filter to find files shared with a specific person. Use the arrow next to the search bar at the top of Google Drive to open the search options, and then enter the person's email address into the Shared with field, followed by SEARCH.

Google Drive shared with search filter.

Those are Google's only options for locating shared files. Still, Filewatch is a great alternative that scans your whole drive and organizes every shared file into categories according to who has access. Two handy categories are Public on the web and Anyone with the link.

Filewatch showing shared Google Drive files.

Any document you select will open in Google Docs in a new tab. Follow the steps above to make it private.

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