Google Docs is a great tool for collaboration as it allows multiple people to edit and work on a single document at the same time, without losing track of who’s doing what.
If you or your organization uses Google Docs, knowing who on the team viewed what document and when can be useful information. From ensuring everyone read a draft, terms and conditions, your latest submission, policies and procedures, or some other important document, being able to see who did what and when is essential.
Until recently, you couldn’t see who viewed your Google Docs. You could see who edited it, but not who just read it. If they didn’t save, edit or leave a comment, you had no idea if a particular person read the latest version of a document at all.
Also, since you can share Google Docs with read-only permissions, you can share the document with some people with the intent that they review the document but not make any changes.
Current versions of Google Docs allow you to configure settings so you can see who viewed your Google Docs. Let’s take a look at how you can do this yourself.
The G Suite Activity Monitor
G Suite is typically used by organizations in which collaboration is essential. If you use G Suite to collaborate with others regularly, you can use the Activity Monitor to see the view history of any Google Docs file.
Follow these steps to do so:
- Open a Google Sheet file
- Click on the upward trending arrow icon in the upper right, or go to the Tools pull-down menu
- Open the Activity dashboard
- Click on the All viewers for your organization tab
This process will enable you to track views in the document, including the date and time of the last view for each viewer.
If you don’t see the Activity Monitor option in your Google Doc it likely means you’re logged into the free version of Google Docs, or a personal account, rather than a G Suite version.
Viewers and Comments Trends
In addition to seeing who viewed your Google Docs, the Activity Monitor also enables you to see trends on when people viewed or commented on your document.
Viewers Trend: Shows you a bar chart of the number of unique viewers over any span of time you choose from 7 days to all time.
Comments Trend: Shows you bar charts of the comment trend over any span of time from 7 days to all time.
Turn Off View History in Google Docs
If for whatever reason you want to turn a document’s view history off, you can do that as well by following these quick steps:
- Open the Google Sheet
- Click on the upward trending arrow in the upper right side of your doc or go to Tools from the pull-down menu
- Open the Activity dashboard
- Select Privacy settings
- Under Document Setting, toggle Show my view history for this document to off
This option is also available in the personal or free version of Google Docs. If you’re working on a document but don’t want your collaborators to know until you’re ready to share your final revisions, you can turn off your view history.
Start by opening Google Sheets, and clicking on Settings.
The Settings menu allows you to turn off your view history with the “Activity Dashboard” settings. Once you’ve toggled this to the “off” position, click OK to save changes.
How to See Who Made Changes to Your Google Doc
Version control is very important, especially if you work in a regulated industry. Version control is something Google Docs has done well for a while. Docs will show who has edited a document, saved, or shared it. This actually works not just with G Suite, but with personal Google Docs, as well.
If you’re interested in version control or want to make sure nobody has made changes they shouldn’t without locking the file down, you can find out by following these steps:
- Open a Google Sheet you want to track
- Select File and Version History
- Select See Version History
A window should appear on the right of your screen showing every save and edit for the document in question. Depending on how you have G Suite or Google Docs set up, you can also see this data by selecting the ‘Last edit was…’ link at the top of the document. It takes you to exactly the same place.
Within that window, you should also have the option to view the previous version of the document before the edits were made.
This is essential for version control as you have an audit trail of what changes were made, when they were made, and by whom. It is also useful if you made some changes, sleep on it, change your mind, and want to roll them back.
How to See Who Has Shared Your Google Doc
You can also see who has shared your Google Doc and when. You can also see the sharing settings so you can better control access to your document.
- Go to drive.google.com
- Click on MyDrive on the left
- Click the small i button on the upper right corner
- Click Activity
- Either click on each file or folder individually or review the scroll bar to the right of the screen. This will show you who has shared your doc.
You can also check from within the document by selecting Share. The names of individuals will appear in the popup window. If there are multiple people, select a name and the list of all names will appear.
Your ability to determine who has viewed, shared, and edited your documents is limited if you do not have access to a G Suite account; however, there are still ways to get some basic information.
By following the steps provided in this guide, you can quickly and easily see who has viewed, edited, are changed your Google Docs document in any way.