A number of times this week I’ve noticed a shared google doc template becoming a copy of the last person who used its response…which means someone somewhere has lost their original doc. When you’re sharing a Google Document with someone else, it’s usually because you’d like their feedback or their help with editing the presentation, document, or spreadsheet. But sometimes, you really just want your recipient to make a copy of the original document. Maybe you’re sending a worksheet to a class of 20 students and you want them all to complete and return their own copy of the original worksheet. Or maybe you’re sending a template roster document to several group leaders and you want them each to copy and complete their own copies of the agenda with their notes.
Either way, it’s easier than you think!
- First, open your template document (the one you want to distribute), click on the Share button.
- You need to make sure that your recipients can view this document. You can grant them higher permissions (commenting or editing privileges), but in most cases “Viewer” is what you want.
- While viewing your template document, select the document’s URL and press Ctrl + C to copy it.
Now, you want to get this link to your recipients via email, you want to make an important change to this long string of gobbly-gook. Paste that copied URL, delete the word “edit” that appears at the end, and replace it with the word “copy”.
5. If your person clicks “Make a copy”, a new copy of the document will appear in their Google Drive. This new copy will be private to them. You won’t have access to it, and neither will editors or collaborators on the original template. (perfect, right??)
Extra fun facts for you:
- This trick only works with Google documents (docs, sheets, slides, drawings, etc). It won’t work for PDFs, JPEGs, Microsoft Office documents, or other non-Google formatted files.
- While this URL-editing technique will give your recipients the option to make a copy of the original document, it doesn’t prevent them from viewing (and if they have permission, editing) the original document.
- If you change the final word of the document URL to “preview” (instead of “edit”, “view”, or “copy”), you can force the recipient to view the document in ‘preview mode’, which gives them a look at the document without any of the editing tools visible. Might be hand when sharing for collecting feedback later!