Use This “Make a Copy” Trick When Sharing Google Drive Documents

The utility of this neat Google Drive hack isn’t quite clear from the title, but give this tip a chance. Try it out once and you will see the immediate benefit when collaborating with others on Google Drive.

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It’s easy to make a copy of any document within your own Google Drive account. But what if you want your collaborators to automatically create copies when they receive share links?

This small tip can come in handy when you want to preserve the original document or template while giving others the flexibility to edit a copy of the document for themselves. It will save them a trip to the File > Make a Copy command on the menu.

Give Users Their Own Copies of Documents

A typical case is a Google Doc that needs to be filled out individually by each respondent. Collaborators can enter the details in their own copy of the document without corrupting the original.

You won’t have to ask them to make a copy. Simply follow these steps and the copy will be made automatically for them. This hack works for all Google Drive tools: Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

  1. Open the Google Drive document you want to share.
  2. Click the blue Share button on the top-right of the document.
    Use This "Make a Copy" Trick When Sharing Google Drive Documents Google Drive Share
  3. In the Share with others dialog, click on the Get shareable link icon. Set the share setting to Edit to update the link. Copy the complete link to your email or any other exchange media.
    Use This "Make a Copy" Trick When Sharing Google Drive Documents Google Drive Share Link
  4. Also, click on Advanced.  Uncheck the box that says to Notify people. You don’t want them to get the notification email for the shared file. You want to send the link to the shareable document separately. Click OK to save the changes.
    Use This "Make a Copy" Trick When Sharing Google Drive Documents Google Drive Share With Others
  5. Copy-paste the shared link in an email. Now, delete everything after the forward slash in the link and insert “copy”.
    Use This "Make a Copy" Trick When Sharing Google Drive Documents Google Drive Edit Link
    This is how the new link looks now:
    Use This "Make a Copy" Trick When Sharing Google Drive Documents Google Drive Copy Link
  6. Send the email and your work is done. When the recipient clicks on the link, it takes them to their Google Drive screen that prompts them to make a copy of your document.
    Use This "Make a Copy" Trick When Sharing Google Drive Documents Make A Copy

When they click Make a copy, a local copy of the document is saved on their Google Drive. The original stays preserved in your account.

Looking for more Google Drive tips? Check out these Google Drive tools to get  more out of the platform.

Have you tried this method before? In what situation has it helped you or you think it can help you?

Explore more about: Collaboration Tools, Google Drive.

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  1. tryingtobeagoodTA
    January 17, 2020 at 8:03 pm


  2. Ryan Peters
    December 11, 2019 at 1:28 am

    Hi. Is this copy hack available for a Google Folder? I want to share a folder (with multiple Google docs inside) in this manner.

  3. kashaf
    December 4, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    I am using this hack to create copies of a template along with an automation script for my clients. But what if I want access to their copies of the sheet so that I can track the usage? Is there a workaround for that?

  4. warriorwoman
    October 10, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    This will be a breath of fresh air - I get daily emails requesting edit access to my version.

  5. a
    September 16, 2019 at 10:05 am

    A big THANK YOU!

  6. Monica Pitts
    August 29, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Thank you! You're a rockstar! I'm certain I'll use this all the time!

  7. Jonathan
    December 21, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    It's funny, because you can just change the link back to edit and It will give you the original document...

  8. Kara
    December 5, 2018 at 1:45 am

    This is GENIUS!!! Thank you!

  9. Melvin
    September 6, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    This saved my day! Saw this being done by someone else but I just couldn't do it, or find any tutorial, until I saw yours. Works like a charm!

  10. Melanie Pierce
    August 24, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Isn't it easier just to click on "view only" when you share a file, and then they can click "file --> make a copy" and then edit their own copy? Has anyone ever had that not work?

    • Rach
      June 14, 2019 at 11:26 am

      It's not that this doesn't work. It's that often you're trying to make it idiot proof. So if they don't have any option other than to make a copy, you save allllllll sorts of hassle.

      You have to remember that people are idiots.

  11. TechyCanuck
    August 21, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    This worked perfectly! Thanks for the tip

  12. Sami
    September 1, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I typed "copy" at the end of the link as suggested and it's still allowing access to the original google sheet. Any suggestions on what might be wrong?

  13. Sami
    September 1, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    I wasn't able to make this work right. When I sent the link with "copy" at the end as suggested it was still allowing access to the original google sheet. Any sugestions?

  14. rssra
    July 22, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Wow. This is cool.