Make Google Drive Files Easier to Share With Symbolic Links

Akshata Shanbhag 05-02-2016

Let’s say that you want to keep a copy of a file in several folders on Google Drive, such that if you update the master file, the changes are automatically reflected in the copies as well. Impossible? Not really.


Google allows you to create symbolic links, which reference the original file What Is a Symbolic Link (Symlink)? How to Create One in Linux File shortcuts are useful, but symbolic links (symlinks) can change how you use files and folders on Linux, macOS, and Windows. Read More , in Google Drive. It’s like creating file copies without creating file copies.

Select any file and press the key combination Shift + Z. Now, from the context menu that pops up, select the folder where you’d like to create a link to that (master) file and click Add. That’s it! You have created a reference copy of the file in a location that’s different from the file’s actual location without moving the file or duplicating it.


The Shift+Z shortcut works on both Windows and Mac as well as on folders. Remember that removing the reference file from one location removes it from all other locations as well, because they share the same link.

It’s a mystery why Google has made this feature so hard to find. It’s quite handy anyway. Go ahead and try it out now!


Were you aware of this obscure keyboard shortcut? Do you know of any others like it in Google Drive or other Google products? Share them with us in the comments.

Image Credit: Close-up computer keyboard by polygraphus via Shutterstock

Related topics: File Sharing, Google Drive.

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    October 27, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Super useful. Thank you!

  2. Ron
    February 5, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    It appears that once created, the symlink can't be removed. Let me know if it can.

    • Akshata Shanbhag
      February 7, 2016 at 4:40 am

      Hey Ron,
      You can remove the symlink by dragging and dropping it into the folder where the original file lives. This seems to be the only way to remove the symlink without also deleting the target i.e. the original file. Not very intuitive I guess.