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How to do a "force copy" on Google Drive documents & sheets before sharing with your customers

During our live session in the Power of the Flock event I held this week, we discussed creating (and selling) editable workbooks, templates, spreadsheets and other documents to help our clients and save them time. My preference when creating tools and resources of this kind is to use the Google suite of applications. They’re universally recognisable, user friendly, stored online so you’re not having to store loads of stuff locally. What’s not to love? But when I’m sharing a template Google Doc or Sheet with multiple people, I don’t want them all adding to/editing my original document. So this is when knowing how to force people to make a copy before editing a Google Doc or Sheet comes in handy.

The challenge of editing documents and why you might want to force copy a Google Doc or Sheet

By default, when you send a link to a document to someone and give them edit access, they are able to edit (and delete parts of!!) your master document. This is not ideal, and lots of people do not read instructions properly, so even if you write “please make a copy before editing”, a lot won’t.

Luckily, there’s a really simple workaround that you can do to make sure users are forced to make a copy of your Google Doc or Sheet before they can start working on the file.

Here’s how to force a copy in Google docs, sheets and other Google applications

  1. First, create your document as normal.
  2. Hit the share button
  3. Copy the sharing link for the document
  4. This is the most important step! When you paste the link, change the end section of the link text (the part after the last / (forward slash), starting with the word “edit” or “view” depending on your sharing settings) so it simply says “/copy” at the end of the link.
  5. Share this new link.

To give you an example, here’s the text-based link to a test sheet I created:

And here is the link to the “force copy” version:

If you click the link, you’ll see what happens.

And that is how you force people to make a copy of your Google Doc or Sheet, and stop them from editing your master document by accident!

Really hope this has helped!

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