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Force users to make a new copy of a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide

There are a lot of times when I want to share a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slides presentation with other teachers, staff, or other people but I want to retain ownership and editing rights over the original. I’m not really a big fan of giving people access to my Google files and allowing them to have editing rights.

In the past what I usually do is give them view-only access and then have them go to File and Make a Copy. It’s an easy process but it has two problems:

  1. Extra clicks for the end-user
  2. They forget that they can make a copy

Now, these aren’t big problems but for a busy teacher, student, or admin they can present a roadblock. Luckily there is an easy way to share a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide and force the user to make a copy.

All you need to do is slightly change the URL of the Doc, Sheet, or Slide when it is open in your browser. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about sharing or ownership issues, all you need to do is send a link. The process is below, and yes, it’s that quick.

With that little bit of magic, you now force the copying of your Docs, Sheets, or Slides. The great thing is that there are other things you can change the link to as well.

  • preview: changing the “edit” to “preview” allows users with the link to view the file but not edit it.
  • copy: changing the “edit” to “copy” allows users to make a copy of the file without being able to see it
  • edit: this is the default and you will need to have access and rights to the file in order to do anything with it

I’m presenting at a conference in a few weeks and I intend to share my presentation with everyone at my session. I don’t want them to have editing rights but I do want to make sure that they can have full access to the presentation if needed. So this option is clean, simple, and it works.


Nathan Nagele

I'm a husband, father, and technology education teacher. I have a passion for creating videos and instructional materials that help students highly achieve.

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