Allow Anyone to Upload Files Directly to Your Google Drive

How can you allow anyone – including outside contractors, partner companies, or clients – to upload files to your Google Drive? 

Well, the good news is that if they have a Google account, you can easily invite them to contribute to a shared folder. The bad news is that Google Drive doesn’t have a fully-developed file request feature, so typically only people with a Google account can send you files. 

Not to worry though, there are some workarounds, both free and paid. We’ll look at these below.


A file upload service like File Request Pro makes it easy to collect large files from anyone.


Use a shared folder inside Google Drive

To request files create a file or folder and then hit ‘share’. 

You can send this request by email or by creating a link. Make sure you include as much information as possible about what you need i.e. Please send x 3 photos of the competition in .jpg format not exceeding 1MB in total. 

If your recipients have a Google account they’ll get a message, saying they’ve been invited to contribute to a shared folder. 

However, if they don’t have a Google account they’ll be asked to sign in, which is a major barrier if they can’t, or don’t want to. 

Another limitation is that collaborators can view all files that have been uploaded in the shared folder on Google Drive, even using the strictest privacy setting. You might not want this degree of collaboration. It depends on your project and the security requirements.

Can you use Google Forms instead to collect files?

Google Forms is a great product, but again it requires respondents to sign in to a Google account to upload files.

You can read more about file upload questions and Google Forms in this article: ‘how to upload files using Google Forms‘. 

Use email and transfer files to your Google Drive

This is a workaround, but it’s free and means that you don’t need to share your Google folders. 

Send your client or contractor an email detailing what files you need and when. They reply with the attachments. You can then manually put the files in your Google drive, in the correct folder. Or use an add on to automatically collect relevant emails and attachment in your Google Drive. 

 

The limitations are considerable though. The manual process is time-consuming and boring. The automated process can be prone to error. You also can’t send files bigger than 10MB, and email isn’t secure enough for confidential files. It is vulnerable to scammers and hackers (see this article by security experts Tessian for more details).

Use a file upload form written in Google Scripts to get people to send you files without signing in

In a conversation on Stack Exchange, a user asked: ‘Does Google Drive have a file request feature like Dropbox?’

The quick answer is ‘no’, but the suggested workaround involves building  File Upload Forms for Google Drive. The upload form is written in Google Scripts and the code needs to be attached to your Google Sheet for it to work.

You need to follow a few steps: copy the Google Sheet for file upload forms, deploy the form as a web app, design the file upload form, customise the form’s settings, and send confirmation emails. 

The result is that anyone can send files to your Google Drive. The downside is that the process is complicated and that file upload forms for Google Drive require a license for extended use.

Use a file upload service that connects natively with Google Drive 

If you want an easy way for any clients, contractors or partner companies to send you files, then consider using a dedicated file upload service that offers native Google Drive integration. 

You can create a simple drag and drop form. Or ask for additional information, like in the following form created using File Request Pro

These services cost money, but offer a secure and quick way to collect and organise files. Respondents don’t need to sign in, making the file collection process very straightforward.

Files are sent automatically to your Google Drive. All you need to do is select:  ‘Connect Google Drive’. 

Which option is the best for you to get files from anyone?

This depends on your specific company or project. If you know that all your respondents have a Google account then you can use the Google ‘Share’ option. This lacks functionality and is a collaborative option. However, it is easy to use and well understood by recipients.

If your respondents don’t all have a Google account, then the email plus Google Drive option is probably your best free option. 

If you run a business where security and ease of use is important, and you want to collect files from anyone, then you’ll need a more specific solution.

The Google Scripts option could suit if you’re technical and don’t mind a bit of a workaround. Otherwise, a file upload service with a native Google Drive integration, like File Request Pro, will be well worth the cost. Prices start from £29 a month for the starter plan and $49 a month for the team plan. 

File Request Pro: The easy way to collect any type of content

  • Customise your upload pages
  • Add extra form fields
  • Embed your upload pages on your website
  • Automate reminders
  • Bank-level encryption
  • Native Google Drive integration

Interested? We offer a 15 day free trial. Find out more about File Request Pro.

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