Productivity

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

Saikat Basu Updated 21-05-2020

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 make a copy of a Google Doc when they receive a share link?

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Try these tips which utilize a small tweak to the shared URL.

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

This method is handy when you want to preserve the original document while giving others the space to edit a copy of the document in their own Drive folder.

It will save them a trip to the File > Make a Copy command and share a copy of a Google Doc in the usual way. Here’s how it works.

Share a Copy of a Google Doc Automatically

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.

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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 on Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides.

  1. Open the Google Drive document you want to share.
  2. Click the blue Share button on the top-right of the document.Google Drive Share Button
  3. In the Share with people and groups dialog, click anywhere on the Get link box as indicated by the prompt.Google Drive Share Dialog Settings
  4. Grab the document link with a click on Copy link. You can send this link to anyone via email or any other medium and then can view, comment, or edit the document. You can set the access by choosing between Viewer, Commenter, or Editor with a click on the little downward arrow on the right.Copy Google Docs Link
  5. Copy-paste the shared link in an email. Now, delete everything after the forward-slash in the link and insert “copy”. Edit this little part of the entire link only part. If you make any other edits, it will show up as an error page for your recipient.Copied Google Drive URL in email

    This is how the new link looks now:
    Add "Copy" at the end of a Google Doc sharing URL
  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.Make a Copy in Google Docs

When they click Make a copy, a local copy of the document is saved on their Google Drive. Also, the copy is received without the comments if any in the original. If you want to send a file with the comments, read the next tip below.

Other Google URL Tricks You Can Use to Share a Google Document

There are a few more variations you can force on the shared links depending on what you want your collaborator to do with it. Let’s go through these four URL tweaks.

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1. Share a Copy of Google Docs That Includes Comments

Google Dive Sharing URL Example

Sometimes you want your comments to carry over to the copy so that your team members can use it to work on their version. You can do it in two ways:

  • Replace /edit with /copy?copyComments=true in the file URL.
  • Replace /edit with includeResolvedCommentsOnCopy=false to avoid copying resolved comments.

2. Share a Google Docs Copy as a Preview

Google Dive Sharing URL Example

The Preview mode is different than the View option because it displays the document in an uncluttered interface without menu bars and buttons. For instance, you can share a Sheet or a Slide presentation to anyone outside your collaborating team.

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Use the Preview mode by replacing /edit in the Google Drive file URL with /preview.

Do note that a Preview link removes menus. So recipients will not be able to use the File > Make a Copy option to add a copy to their own Google Drive.

To bypass that restriction, recipients can go to the address bar in their browser and replace /preview with /edit again to make a copy for their own drive.

3. Share a Google Document as a Template

Google Dive Sharing URL Example

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You can share a Google document as a template. The recipient gets a clutter-free copy of your document minus the Google Drive menus. They can also make a copy of the document for their drive with a click on the blue Use Template button.

Replace /edit with /template/preview

This method combines the Preview option with the choice to “Make a Copy”.

4. Share a Google Docs Copy as a Direct Download Links

Google Dive Sharing URL Example

A direct download link works as it says. Your team member just has to click the link and the file will be downloaded to their desktop.

Replace /edit with /export?format=FORMAT

Add the file format (like PDF or CSV) that the document should be saved as, and your download link is ready. The PDF or CSV option is ideal because it is a universal format and the recipient does not need a Google account to open and view the file.

Also, the receiver gets a print-ready file they can instantly send to the printer. This works with Google Docs and Google Sheets, but not Google Slides.

Keep an Eye on Google Drive’s Sharing Settings

Google Drive is built around collaboration. But it’s always a good idea to track who you are sharing your files with. It’s easy to lose track when you are working in a large team.

The above examples show that it is easy to tweak the shared URLs and access the files if your sharing permissions are not set with security in mind. Spend some time in managing your shared files in Google Drive 10 Tips for Managing Shared Files on Google Drive Are you still learning the ropes of Google Drive? Here are several tips to help manage your files on Google Drive better. Read More and you won’t have to worry about files falling into the wrong hands.

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Collaboration Tools, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Sheets.

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  1. Thiago Nunes
    July 30, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    I'd like to use this great trick at work! Is there a way to create a copy in the same folder? Thanks!!!!

  2. Sumedha Kumar
    July 5, 2020 at 7:24 pm

    Hi,
    When creating the force copy link, the prompt does not have the name of the file. Instead it says " would you like to make a copy of ?". What could I be doing wrong?

  3. Gideon van Melle
    May 22, 2020 at 9:39 am

    Google does make use of versioning. Isn’t that enough?

  4. Jess
    April 11, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    Thank you so much! I wanted a quick way to get people to the "make a copy" step, and this worked perfectly.

  5. Suzanne
    April 9, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you!
    This was so helpful! I'm a Special Education Teacher who has had to rapidly learn how to teach digitally. This trick was so helpful!

  6. TeacherK
    April 9, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    THANK YOU!!!

  7. Asmaa
    March 19, 2020 at 2:47 am

    I just tried and it didn't work with a Google Sheet. When I tested the link, I got "Sorry, unable to open the file at this time. Please check the address and try again." :o(

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

    YOU'RE A GOD THANK YOU

  9. 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.
    Thanks!

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

    Hi,
    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?

  11. 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.

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

    A big THANK YOU!

  13. 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!

  14. 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...

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

    This is GENIUS!!! Thank you!

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

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

    This worked perfectly! Thanks for the tip

  19. 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?

  20. 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?

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

    Wow. This is cool.