Collaborating with Google Docs

By Jen Sloan | May 10, 2018

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NYU Docs/Drive enables community members to collaborate on, edit, and approve documents. Docs can be used for both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. However, not all of Docs’ powerful collaborative features are obvious at first glance. In this article are some tips to help you make the most of Docs and more effectively work together with colleagues on shared documents.


The first step to start collaborating is to share your Doc.

  1. Open the file and click the blue Share button at the top right of the screen.
  2. A dialog box will open. Enter the names or email addresses of the people with whom you want to collaborate.
  3. Click the pencil icon to select Can editCan comment, or Can view.
  4. The Notify people box is checked by default; add a message for the collaborators there if you wish. The advanced link gives you the option of sending a copy of the message to yourself.
  5. Another option for sharing is to uncheck the Notify people option and instead click the Get sharable link at the top right paste the URL into an email.

Commenting and Suggesting Changes

NYU Docs allows you to add feedback in the margin of the document as “comments,” or inline in the document text as “suggestions.” Commenting and suggesting are great tools for collaboration; both modes make it easy for others to see who is proposing changes or posing questions. These remarks and proposed edits appear in real-time as they are added.

  • Comment: To add a comment, select the text upon which you want to comment. A round bubble with a white + sign will appear in the right margin. Click it to enter a comment. Alternately, you can right-click on selected text and choose “Comment” from the menu. This is a useful way to pose a question or ask for a verification.
  • Suggesting: If you have access to edit a document, directly below the blue “Share” button (top right) you will see a pencil icon and the word Editing beside a small downward-pointing arrow. Selecting this will open a drop-down menu that gives you the option of switching to Suggesting mode. This mode allows collaborators to see proposed changes highlighted inline along with the original text, and to click the checkmark or X in the dialog box in the right margin to accept or decline a suggested edit.

Assign Tasks by Tagging People in Comments

  1. Select the text upon which you want to comment.
  2. Enter your comment as described above. To address it to a specific person, type @ and their email in the comment text. For example: NYU Docs will automatically suggest the names of people you work with frequently.
  3. The person will receive an email with a link to the document. That person can then make changes and/or reply to your comment, so long as the document has been shared with them.
  4. When you or your collaborator is done with the comment, click Resolve to archive it. You can view archived comments by clicking the text bubble icon to the left of the blue Share button at the top right.

Version History

When collaborating with several people on a file it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint who made certain changes and when, if they make changes to the document in “Editing” rather than “Suggesting” mode. Use version history to see all the updates to a document. Note: You need “Owner” or “Can edit” access to see the version history. To view the history, open the “File” menu at the top left then select Version history.

You can preview past versions of the document by clicking the version in the list on the right side of the screen. If you would like to restore a previous version of a document, select Restore this revision. NYU Drive will keep the last 30 days or 100 revisions, whichever is greater.

Additional Resources