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Recently, there have been changes to how Google Sheets handles access and permissions. While the permission levels remain the same (“Owner”, “Commenter”, “Viewer”, and “Editor”), these levels can now also be applied to specific sheets or cell ranges. In fact, you now have more options regarding what is shared and what permissions users have, which makes it even more important to manage user access and permissions carefully.

In this article, you can learn about the different permission levels available in Google Sheets, how to change existing permissions for a workbook and a sheet, and how to request editing access for a workbook. You can check out the blog to learn more about how to share Google Sheets, how to share only one tab, and how to make Google Sheets editable.

Google Sheets permission levels

There are four permission levels in Google Sheets. While ownership only applies to the whole workbook, you can now assign the other three roles to specific sheets or ranges within the workbook.

Owner

By default, Google Sheets assigns ownership to the user that creates the file. The owner has full access to view, edit, and add/remove access to the workbook. As the owner, you have full control of the workbook.

In some cases, you may want to change this. Fortunately, you can now transfer ownership of a workbook to a different user. Check out Step 4 in the section Change Sheets permissions for a workbook

Edit

Editors have similar permissions to owners within the workbook: they can add/edit/delete content, add/reply to comments, and even change permissions and share the workbook with others.

If you would like to remove their ability to change permissions and share the workbook, go to “Share” - top-right corner - and click on the setting gear to uncheck that option. You can now add editing permissions to specific sections; in this case, permissions will only apply to those sections.

Comment

Commenters can view the workbook and add/reply to comments. This is very useful, for example, if you want to share the workbook to obtain a client’s review or feedback on specific areas. This role allows them to provide feedback while preventing them from directly modifying the contents of the spreadsheet.

However, keep in mind that they will be able to view the entire file. Commenters have the option to download, print, and copy unless you uncheck the “Viewers and commenters can see…” setting.

View

This is the most basic permission. Viewers can only see the file, but cannot edit or comment. As mentioned above, it is now also possible to limit the “Commenter” and “Viewer” roles even further, by unchecking the “Viewers and commenters can see…” checkbox in the Share settings.

Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Share settings
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Share settings
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How do I change permissions on Google Sheets?

You can change permissions for the spreadsheet by using the built-in “Share” button, placed in the top-right corner. This displays a list of current users followed by a drop-down menu where you can quickly change their permission level. You can also change permissions for specific sheets or cells, by heading over to Data > Protected sheets and ranges.

Changing permissions can be a complex process, so you’ll see the three main ways to achieve this.

Change Sheets permissions for an entire spreadsheet

This method includes changing permissions for the entire spreadsheet, including transferring ownership and adding an expiration date for Comment and View.

  1. 1. Click on the “Share” button in the top-right corner. You’ll see a pop-up with the users who currently have access to the file.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Share button
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Share button
  1. 2. To the right of each user, you’ll see a drop-down menu with three options: “Viewer”, “Commenter”, and “Editor”. Click on the one you want to apply.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Change permissions
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Change permissions
  1. 3. As you can see, there are three more options at the bottom, including “Remove access”. You can also provide temporary “Comment” or “View” access, by clicking on “Add expiration”.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Add expiration date
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Add expiration date
  1. 4. To transfer ownership of the spreadsheet, simply click on “Yes”. However, make sure that this is the option you want – the new owner can remove you after this.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Transfer ownership
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Transfer ownership

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Change Sheets permissions for specific sheets

  1. 1. Go to Data > Protected sheets and ranges.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Protect sheets
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Protect sheets
  1. 2. You will see the sidebar to the right of your spreadsheet, with a list of protected sheets and/or ranges. In the example below, “Sheet1” and “Sheet2” are both protected.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Protected sheets
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Protected sheets
  1. 3. From the list, click on the sheet you want to change permissions. If you want to be the only editor for this sheet, click on “Change permissions”.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Change permissions 2
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Change permissions
  1. 4. You will have the option to “Restrict who can edit this range”. Choose “Only you” or “Custom” so you can add specific users other than yourself. If you already have permissions set up on a different sheet, you can select “Copy permissions from another range”.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Restrict editing
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Restrict editing

Request access to edit a Google Sheets file

  1. 1. Open your Google Sheet and you will see a green “View only” button. This confirms that you don’t have access to edit. Click on it and then “Request edit access”.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View View only
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - View only
  1. 2. Type in your message and click “Send” to notify the user about your request.
Google Sheets Permissions Edit Comment View Request edit access
Google Sheets Permissions: Edit, Comment, View - Request edit access

How to set up Google Sheets permissions with Layer?

Layer is an add-on that equips you with the tools to increase efficiency and data quality in your processes on top of Google Sheets. Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds. See how it works.

Using Layer, you can:

  • Share & Collaborate: Automate your data collection and validation through user controls.
  • Automate & Schedule: Schedule recurring data collection and distribution tasks.
  • Integrate & Sync: Connect to your tech stack and sync all your data in one place.
  • Visualize & Report: Generate and share reports with real-time data and actionable decisions.

Limited Time Offer: Install the Layer Google Sheets Add-On today and Get Free Access to all the paid features, so you can start managing, automating, and scaling your processes on top of Google Sheets!

Conclusion

As you have seen, the ability to assign editing permissions is incredibly useful. In a few clicks, you can add editors to your Google Sheets file or even parts of it. Alternatively, you can add commenters to provide feedback, without having to worry about them making changes to the file. You can easily revoke these permissions, or even set expiration dates for View and Comment.

You now know about the different permission levels in Google Sheets, as well as how to modify them. While the new options offer a lot of flexibility regarding access and permissions, it is also quite easy to become confused and make a mess. If you have a large workbook, with multiple sheets and protected ranges, make sure you plan it out logically first.

Using a tool like Layer provides you with the flexibility of customized sharing and collaboration while maintaining full control and ensuring users can access the workbook securely.

If you would like to learn more about the new sharing and editing options in Google Sheets and Excel, check out some of our other articles:

Layer google sheets add on offer
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Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Jun 28 2022, Updated Nov 11 2022