Back to Basics: sharing, moving and protecting the data in Google Sheets

Moving on to another stop of our "Back to Basics" journey, today I will tell you more about managing your spreadsheets. You will learn how to share, move and protect your data in Google Sheets.

As I've already mentioned in my previous article, the main advantage of Google Sheets is the possibility for several people to work with the tables simultaneously. There's no need to email the files or to guess what changes were made by your colleagues anymore. All you need to do is share Google Sheets documents and start working.

How to share Google Sheets files

  1. To grant access to your tables, press the Share button at the upper right corner of the Google Sheets web-page and enter the names of those users who will work with the table. Decide whether to give the person the rights to edit or comment on the table or only to view the data:
    Share the data with others.
  2. What is more, you can get an external link to your table and send it to your colleagues and partners. To do that, click Get shareable link at the upper right corner of the sharing window.
  3. Further on, if you click the Advanced link at the bottom right corner of the same window, you will see the advanced Sharing settings:
    Advanced sharing settings

    There, you will see not only the same shareable link, but also the buttons to share the Google Sheets file on social media.

  4. Right underneath there's a list of those who already have access to the table. If you click the Change option, you will be able to switch the privacy status from Public to Anyone with the link or to Specific people.
  5. Every person whom you share the table with can view the document by default. For them to be able to edit it, you should use the Invite people option from the advanced settings where you enter their names or addresses and set the appropriate access type. If you skip it, the users will have to request access when they follow the link to the file.

    Tip. You can appoint the new owner of the file by clicking the icon with an arrow pointing down beside his or her name and choosing Is owner.

  6. Finally, Owner settings options enable to limit the number of invitations as well as prohibit downloading, copying and printing the pages for those who are not allowed to make any changes in the tables.

How to move Google Spreadsheets

Saving the files has never been so easy. You don't need to do anything special to save the changes anymore. Google Sheets saves the data automatically with every change made. Let's see how to save the whole document to Google Drive.

  • All the files are stored in the Google Drive root directory by default. However, you can create subfolders in Google Drive and arrange your projects in the most convenient way. To move the table to any other folder, just find the document in the list, right-click it and choose the Move to option.
  • Another way is to click the folder icon right when you edit the table:
    Move the table
  • Of course, you can also drag and drop the documents in Google Drive as you do in the Windows File Explorer.

How to protect cells in Google Sheets

When lots of people have access to your documents, you may want to protect the table, the worksheet or the range of cells.

"What for?", you may ask. Well, one of your colleagues may happen to change or remove the data accidentally. And they may not even notice that. Of course, we can always view the version or cell-edit history and undo the changes. But it will take some time to look through the whole list and, besides, it will cancel the rest of the "correct" changes. To avoid that, you can protect the data in Google Sheets. Let's see how we can make that happen.

Protect the entire spreadsheet

Since we've already covered how to give access to your tables and what rights you can grant the users, the first very simple piece of advice would be this - try to allow viewing the table instead of editing. Thus, you'll reduce the number of unintentional changes to the minimum.

Protect a sheet

Right-click the worksheet tab and choose to Protect sheet. Make sure that the Sheet button is already pressed:
Protect the sheet

Tip. The Enter a description field is not required, though I'd recommend filling it in to remember what and why you decided to protect from the changes.

Tip. You can allow editing only particular cells of the table by checking the Except certain cells option and entering the cells or the ranges of cells.

The next step would be to adjust the settings for the users. Press the blue Set permissions button:
Edit permissions

  • If you select the Show a warning when editing this range radio button, everyone with access to the file will have the access to this sheet as well. Once they try to change something they will get a warning about editing the protected range and they will have to confirm the action. At the same time, you will get an email with the actions your colleagues perform in the document.
  • If you select the Restrict who can edit this range radio button, you'll have to enter every single user who'll be able to edit the worksheet.

As a result, you'll see the icon of the padlock on the worksheet tab meaning the sheet is protected. Right-click that tab and choose the Protect Sheet option once again to unlock it:
Unprotect the sheet

The settings pane will appear for you to change the settings or remove the protection by clicking the trash bin icon.

Protect cells in Google Sheets

To protect specific cells in Google Sheets, select the range, right-click on it and choose to Protect range:
Protect range

You'll see a familiar settings pane and be able to set the necessary permissions.

But what if in time you forget what is protected and who can access the data? No worries, this can be easily recalled. Just choose Data > Protected sheets and ranges from the Google Sheets main menu:
Who can edit sheets and ranges

Select any of the protected ranges and edit the permissions, or delete the protection by clicking the trash bin icon.

To sum it all up, so far you've learned how to create multiple worksheets with tables, store them in different folders, share them with others and protect cell in Google Sheets without fear of losing or corrupting any important pieces of information.

Next time I'll dig deeper into some aspects of editing the tables and share some peculiar aspects of working in Google Sheets. See you then!

Table of contents


  1. Como fazer para copiar uma planilha com proteção da planilha toda com exceção de intervalo de células, de uma pasta no google para outra pasta do google sem perder as proteções?
    A Ideia era ter uma pasta de "Templates" com proteção de estrutura da planilha e das formulas e com campos de edição. Os usuários iam a esta pasta faziam uma copia e moviam para a pasta destino. Na pasta destino abriam a planilha e trabalhavam apenas nas células editáveis da planilha protegida.
    Tentei, mas a proteção é perdida.

    • Hello Paula,

      I'm sorry, we provide assistance in English only.
      I'm afraid what you need is impossible. Once any user copies the spreadsheet to their Drive, they become the owners of the file, meaning they can edit every single cell.
      Hence, you need to create multiple spreadsheets (one per user) in the Shared drive and set the editing permissions for each user right from there.

  2. I need help please. I was recently removed off a google sheet I created, it was shared but as edit access only, ownership was never transfered. Now maliciously removed from my own work how can I regain access to this? I don't even know how it was possible to remove me in the first place, as owner do you not have any rights to what happens on these sheets? I'm floored and absolutely devastated that others not have control of my work while I was kicked out.

    • Hello Tasmin,

      I'm so sorry this happened. If the spreadsheet was shared with you with editing permissions and the ownership was never transferred to your account, you won't be able to regain access, I'm afraid, until the spreadsheet is shared back with you.

  3. google-drive-sheets-or-docs

    Because people share password, it is possible for someone with your password to make changes under your name.

    But you will not be notified of a change, because this feature only works when changes are made not by you.

    So, is there a way to be notified when you make a change?

    Why? Because to prevent your work being sabotaged by a co-worker.

    Can you please enlighten me and help? Thank you


    p.s. because google spreadsheet / docs are shared, the files cannot be restricted. The managers have access and can make changes under my name. I need to know how to be notified of a change made under my name

    • Hello Penelope,

      I'm sorry but there's no way in Google Sheets to get notifications about changes you make in your spreadsheets. However, you can track changes via Version History, it contains records about the changes made by you as well.

  4. When you create any kind of restrictions either thru cells/range or for the entire sheets then save it after... Then when you try to Make a Copy thru File > Make a Copy, suddenly all restriction/s you've just set are lost for some reason/s is there any solutions for this concern?

    • Hello Julius,

      At the moment Google Sheets doesn't support functionality that would copy the protection settings. You'll have to protect sheets/ranges manually anew in a copy of your spreadsheet.

  5. Hello,

    I was wondering if there was a way to protect the same cells that are protected on Google Sheets when downloading as a Microsoft Excel file. Thank you.

    • Hello Julie,

      When you protect ranges and tabs in Google Sheets, the rules work only for the Google Sheets accounts. Since Google Sheets and Excel are different platforms with their own settings and accounts required, the protection you applied in Google Sheets will not be kept after downloading the spreadsheet as an Excel file.

  6. Hi,

    In my group we have diiferent tabs for team members.Is there any way that I can remove owner(me) in their tabs so that only they get the access

    • Hi Aditya,

      No, the owner of the spreadsheet always has editing access to all tabs of the file. The only workaround would be to move those sheets to separate spreadsheets, share those spreadsheets with respective team members and make them the owners of those files.

  7. I have create the one google file and many spreadsheet, share the sheet, My requirement was The spreadsheet all sheet view edit only owner, the share user only access spreadsheet edit and view option particular sheet only other sheet could not view and edit how do create.

  8. I deal with groups of people who pay for a conference. Each group has a group leader who is in charge of payment. Payments come in throughout the year. I have used a pivot table and slicer to create an 'invoice/statement' on a new tab for each group leader. How can I share this 'invoice tab' without having the group leader be able to see the rest of the information in my google sheet? My goal is to be able to update my main google sheet which will update each 'invoice tab' so that the leader can securely see the updates in real time. In the past I have had to do a lot of cutting and pasting and I would like to progress away from that archaic way of handling things. Thank you.

    • Hello Michele,

      I'm afraid there's no way to share different tabs from one spreadsheet with different people.

      As a workaround to manual copy-pasting, I can suggest you to try using the IMPORTRANGE function. It will copy the data to other files and will update there as you make changes to the source sheet.

  9. I am trying to remove cell protection. The instructions say "Select any of the protected ranges and edit the permissions, or delete the protection by clicking the trash bin icon." Where is the trash bin icon? It does not appear on my Google sheet just as it does not appear in the screen shot above.

    • Hello Myrna,

      Once the pane with ranges appears (like on the screenshot above), click on the range. Its settings will open and you'll be able to delete it.

  10. Hi there, i've created google sheet and i am the owner of the google sheet. I've protected the cell by different user access. only granted user can modify the cell. everything is well until recently i've granted existing protected cell to a new user. The new user is not able to modify the cell. I've tried so many ways like remove the protected cell and recreate the protected range, re-added back all users inclusive the new user. Unfortunately, the new user still not able to modify the cell, whereas it working fine with other users. please help.

    • Hi Wawa,

      It's hard to tell what may cause problems. It can be the lack of a locale (File > Spreadsheet setting) for both you and the user. It can be an old browser where Google Sheets doesn't work correctly (see system requirements). It can be any setting used to protect the range or share the spreadsheet.

      If you've checked all of these and are sure they are not the causes of the issue, please try asking Google support or Help community for assistance:

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