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How to Unshare a Google Doc Once You’ve Shared It

In this blog post, I'll save you from a humiliating situation where you've shared a Google Docs with your friends only to realize you've shared the wrong document.
How to Unshare a Google Doc Once You’ve Shared It

While there are many mistakes that you cannot undo in life and things said that you won’t be able to take back, being unable to unshare content you’ve written should not be one of them. You may have created a document that you’ve shared with others but have changed your mind about it for one reason or the other. There’s no need to panic as I will show you how to unshare a google doc once you have unshared it.

If you have shared Google Docs via email you will have to click the “Share” button, then remove the contributors that you don’t want to have access to it. If you shared it via an unrestricted link, you will have to create a new copy of the document, rename it, then delete the original.

Below, I will explain steps on how to unshare a document that you have shared via email or via a link with unrestricted access. I have also provided guidance on how to delete a document that has already been shared and how to ensure they cannot move the document out of your trash after you have deleted it. Lastly, I provided insight on what notification the removed participants will see should they try to access these documents.

How to Unshare a Google Doc

Shared Via Email

You can unshare a Google Doc by first opening the document that you have shared. At the top right-hand corner, you will see a blue box that reads “Share”. Before you shared it, you would have seen a lock symbol. However, now you will see the symbol of two people, indicating it is shared.

When you click the button, you will see a list of the people you have shared the document with. To the right of their names, you will see a drop-down list. Select the button and scroll down until you see the “Remove” option.

Once you have removed them, they will disappear from the list of people who have access to the documents. You will then click “Save” to confirm your changes. If you have removed all of the participants, the icon of the “Share” button will return to that of a lock which means that you now have sole access to the document.

The method of unsharing the document is the same if you sent a link to the participants with restricted access. Restricted access only allows people whose emails you have added to use the link. Therefore, the above directions for sharing via email apply.

However, if you have sent a link with unrestricted access to collaborators, you will be unable to simply unshare the document. The unrestricted access link allows anyone who receives that link to be able to access the document. Since they would not need an email address added to the document to view, you cannot remove them from the document via the conventional method previously discussed.

Also note, that you cannot change their link access from unrestricted to restricted. When you go to the section that requests you to confirm whether you want to copy a link with restricted access or one with free access, you will see that there are two different links for each option. Therefore, changing the link back to unrestricted will not affect the unrestricted access link you already shared.

If you wish to keep the contents of your document, you can technically “unshare” the document by creating a copy of the file, then deleting the original file. You can create a copy of the file by clicking on “File, then selecting “Make a copy”. You will then rename the file. If there are people with whom you have previously shared this document via email that you would like to continue to have access, you can check the box below that reads “Share it with the same people”.

Once you’ve created the copy, delete the original. With this method, since you have essentially created a new document, the link that you have shared will not be valid for it. The link will direct them to the original document, which no longer exists. If they try to access using the link, they will see a message that lets them know that you have deleted the document.

If you do not wish to keep the contents of the document, you can simply delete the document. Below, I have explained how to delete a document that has been shared. It will be useful for both docs that have been shared via email or via link.

How Do You Delete a Google Doc That Has Been Shared?

From Within The Document

There are two ways to delete a Google Doc that has already been shared. If you are already in the document, you can click on “File” from the menu bar, scroll down to the option that reads “Move to Trash.”

If there are multiple documents that you would like to delete, then select the blue page icon that is to the top-left. You will see on the page the option to start a new document. Below that, you will see a display of all the recent documents that you have handled.

Hover over each document you desire to delete. The more recent documents will be the first to appear.

Click on the three vertical dots to the bottom right of the selection. Among the options that become available, you will see the “Remove” option. Click on the button. Google Docs will open a dialogue box for you to confirm the choice to delete.

Click on the blue button that reads “Move to Trash”. Once selected, your document will be deleted. Do this for all the documents in the list that you would like to delete.

From Google Drive

If you are not currently in the document, you can access it from your Google Drive. You have the option to access the document by searching for it in the search bar located at the top of the drive. Once you found it, give the document a single left-click.

At the top-right of the drive, below the ribbon with the search bar, you will see a bin icon. Click on the bin. Your document will be immediately deleted.

If you are the owner of the document, once you have deleted it, the people with who you have shared it will no longer be able to access the document. If they try to access the document, a dialogue box will open, informing them that the document has been moved to the trash.

However, if you have deleted the document without first unsharing it, Google Docs will give them the option to take the document out of the trash, and access it for the next thirty days. They will even be allowed to make a copy of the document.

If you don’t want the participants who you previously shared with to have this option, you will have to permanently delete the file. To do this, allow the document to remain in the trash. Go into Google Drive where you will select the “Trash” option that is on the left ribbon in the drive.

Here, you will see a list of all the documents that you have moved to the trash. Select the document that you wish to permanently delete, then click on the trash icon. Your document will be permanently deleted.

When contributors try to access the document, they will receive a message “File not Found”. It will also let them know that either they have the wrong URL, or the owner deleted the file.

I would suggest though that unsharing the document before deleting it would be an easier task if the document was shared via email. It eliminates the extra steps needed to remove access from the contributors. However, if you shared the document via a link with unrestricted access, your best option is to delete the file entirely.

If You Remove Someone From a Google Doc Are They Notified?

When you have shared a document with someone, they are notified via email. However, when you have removed them, they will not receive a notification. They will no longer receive permission to edit.

If they have opened the document before you unshared it, they will still be able to see the document. Once the document is refreshed, however, they will no longer be able to see it.

Conclusion

How you unshare your document is dependent on how you initially shared it as sharing via a link with unrestricted access will require manipulating the document so that it is “essentially” unshared. We have reviewed how to unshare the documents in both instances as well as what the former participants will see once the document has been unshared. After following these guidelines, you will be well on your way to unsharing your documents no matter the circumstance!