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Bug or Feature? Google Groups and Google Drive, You Decide.

I recently asked people if they'd be willing to help me work out what happens in terms of notification emails when you start sharing Google Documents with them. About 60 people said they'd be happy to take part.

So ( and this is part of the Booking System work ) I create a Google Group called Google-Guinea-Pigs and added everyone to this group. I set the email notification for this group to be "Web Only" because having found people willing to help, I didn't want to immediately start filling up their in trays with "You have been added to ... etc " emails.

So now, I wanted to share my spreadsheet with members of that group. I clicked the "Share" button and added the email address, google-guinea-pigs-group@.... etc. That seemed to work OK.

Next, I went to an unwitting member of the Google Guinea Pigs. When they went to Google Groups, in the My Groups list was indeed Google Guinea Pigs.

But when they went to Google Drive, the newly shared spreadsheet was nowhere to be found, either by browsing or by actual searching. It didn't exist.

Now, when they went back to Google Groups and saw the email that said "This Spreadsheet has been shared with you" ... that was sent to the Group but not distributed to all the members ( which is what I wanted ) ... and clicked the link to the spreadsheet in that email... they could access the spreadsheet fine.

But there's also this...

When the member went back to Google Drive and searched for the file, it showed up in the look-ahead part of the search form (see below), but not in the file listing....

That would suggest (perhaps) that having looked at the file ( via the automatic invitation email link ) that some flag is set that says this file is now findable. Or is it something else?

My original aim, was to be able to create groups, add files and calendars without bothering the heck out of people, but know that, once created people could search for, or stumble across them as needed. So, for example, someone might search for "Holiday" and hey presto, without ever been told that a form exists, they can find it and maybe a shared Calendar.... how handy would that be? An intranet that works....

But it would seem ( and I might be wrong ) that you can't be given access to something without being pestered about it... and that you can't find something until you have already explicitly accepted its existence.


  1. I ran into the same situation. Our documents that were shared with our groups were not showing up in the "Shared with me" folder. So as the sysadmin for our Google Apps domain, I entered a help desk ticket with Google and was told that the "Shared with me" folder is exclusively for document that are shared directly with me (and not a group), hence the name "Shared with me". For documents shared with a group, the user has to open the document from the e-mail notice and then they can find the document in either the Recent or All Items folder and them move them around as need be.

    Anyway, I voiced my complaint and said that the the Shared with me folder should include everything shared with me, including groups. The Google support person I was working with said he would open up some sort of enhancement request so I guess we can wait and see what happens.

  2. See this help Google Drive Help doc:

    Midway down it states the following: "Sharing something with a mailing list? Don't skip notifying people by email. Your fellow mailing list members need to directly click the link in the email notification in order for a shared item to show up later in their list of documents."

  3. Yes... but when, for example adding people to Groups you might not want to pester them with notification that they're in that group. And when, for example, you might be "populating an intranet" of sorts with lots of useful files ( like Holiday forms, and Sick Leave forms etc ... real gripping stuff )... you don't want to be spamming people with endless emails about the fact. But you DO want them to be able to search for "sick leave".

    The problem with always telling everyone everything you've ever done as you do it is that they
    a. Get sick of hearing from you
    b. Learn to ignore or worse filter your "notifications"

  4. Same here. What I was hoping was that when new employees joined they would get access to all the default stuff. Unfortunately not, so I've given up on Google Groups and just enter all shared items per user when they join. OK with 10 users, but this won't work for a big company.

    But Google are not thinking about large companies, e.g. the annoying way they default to 'Stay signed in' when you log in would mean, for that reason alone, Google Apps could not be deployed in any large company.

  5. This is one of the biggest complaints from our users and causes a lot of confusion. I can understand Google's hesitation to mix with "Shared with me" as that would get cluttered if you were part of a group with a lot of files/folders to share. However they could simply add "Shared with a group to which I am a member" (or something shorter :).

    Either way, having a shared google doc or folder only available available via the search bar (with no ability to star it for easier future access!) is ridiculous.

  6. What people explain above describes the problems I am having, which is very frustrating for all my users and even more so for me.

    However, Google's own documentation says it shouldn't work this way: at Troubleshoot Google Drive problems ( it indicates:

    1) sharing with a small group should make it show up in Shared with me
    2) it should always be searchable if it is shared with "Anyone at (your domain)" (without requiring the link)

    Neither of these are true, in my experience.

    Here's the quoted portion from the Google support page:

    The Shared with me view shows only items that have been shared with you explicitly. This includes items shared with you via a small group (with up to 100 members). If an item is shared with a larger group, it won’t automatically show in your Drive unless you click the link in the sharing invitation email.

    Note that sharing a document, file, or folder with the (your domain) visibility option lets people in your domain find the item by searching, but doesn't automatically add the item to everyone’s Drive. When an item is shared with the Anyone at (your domain) with the link option, the item does not appear in "Search (your domain)" results.

  7. Thanks for this post & discussion! I'm in the same boat as many of you. I created a Google Group specifically to share GDocs, and it essentially doesn't work.

    You all are right that for large groups it seems like a dead end. In my case it's only about 10 people and only a few docs, so it seems like forgetting all about the GGroup and simply adding peeps manually to each doc is the best solution.

    Still, the dream of adding a person to a GGroup and having their "Shared Docs" folder automatically populated with the essential docs did seem so nice!

    TY all for removing the mystery / cloud from my brain! :D


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