Shared drives overview

A shared drive is an organizational structure within Google Drive that lives parallel to My Drive. Shared drives support files owned by an organization rather than an individual user. An individual file may be organized within a shared drive or My Drive, but not both.

Access control

Shared drives use a similar permission model as other content in Drive. Unlike files in My Drive, content located within a shared drive is owned by a group of users. For more information about permissions, see Share files, folders, and drives.

Permission propagation

Like items in My Drive, permissions on parent items propagate downward to their children. However, within a shared drive, permissions are strictly expansive. For example, a user that has a role of commenter for a shared drive cannot have their access level reduced at another point within the folder hierarchy. However, their access can be increased for a certain set of files.

Shared drive files must have exactly one parent. This means that shared drive files belong to a single shared drive and are located in a single location within that shared drive. Having a single location simplifies permission rules for shared drive files.

Member vs. file access

There are two classes of permissions in shared drives:

  • Member permissions are for users who have been granted access to the shared drive itself, either directly or through a group. Members can see the shared drive metadata, such as the shared drive's name. Members have access to all files within the shared drive, with the access level depending on the role given to the member (e.g. reader, writer).
  • File access permissions are for users who have been granted access to a subset of the files in the shared drive. For example, sharing a single file to a user creates a file access permission.

An individual user may be a member of a shared drive and have file access permissions for files contained within the shared drive. A file access permission may be superseded if the user's membership in the shared drive grants them a greater level of access. These file permissions are revoked when the user is no longer a member of the shared drive, or their member access level is reduced.


As with items in My Drive, each user is granted access with a specific role. Two additional roles have been added for shared drives:

  • The fileOrganizer role allows users to organize files within a shared drive and to move content into the Trash.
  • The organizer role grants the same privileges as the fileOrganizer and allows users to permanently remove content and modify shared drive name and membership.

The owner role is not allowed in shared drives.

For more information about the capabilities of different roles in a shared drive, see Share files, folders and drives.

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