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Google Sheets has recently improved the options for collaboration, making it possible for multiple users to edit in real-time. What’s more, Google Sheets permissions offer further customization within your files, allowing users to share only one tab or share data at the cell level. While this allows for greater flexibility, it can also lead to confusion, as there are multiple options to keep in mind when you share data in Google Sheets.

In this article, you will learn how to make your Google spreadsheets editable by multiple users, as well as how to add editors to specific sheets and ranges. As an alternative solution, Layer offers automated workflows that you can apply to your specific collaboration and sharing needs.

Google Sheets Edit permissions

There are three levels of permission that can be assigned to multiple users: “Viewer”, “Commenter”, and “Editor”. The “Viewer” role is the most limited in terms of permissions, as it only allows users to view the file. “Commentor” users can add and reply to comments, but it does not allow them to edit any of the contents.

This article will focus on the “Editor” role, which allows users to add, modify, and delete the contents of the file. By default, editors can also change permissions and share the file, but this option can be unchecked in the Share settings (go to Add editors to file for more information).

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How to make Google Sheets editable?

There are many ways to allow others to edit your Google Sheets. Let’s begin by exploring how to add editors to your file.

Add editors to file

  1. 1. Click on the “Share” button, on the top-right corner of your Google Sheets.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Share button
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Share button
  1. 2. As it is still a private file, you will be listed as the only user. Type in the names or email addresses of the people you want to add as editors.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Share with people
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Share with people
  1. 3. You can select the “Edit” option from the drop-down menu, placed to the right of each user. Additionally, you can “Notify people” with default or a personalized message.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Notify
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Notify
  1. 4. Click on the settings gear on the top-right corner of the pop-up shown above. You can also limit the “Editor” role by removing their ability to change permissions and share the file.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Share settings
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Share settings

An alternative way to add editors is by creating a shareable link.

  1. 1. Click on the “Share” button, placed on the top-right corner of your spreadsheet.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Share button 2
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Share button
  1. 2. At the bottom of the pop-up, click on the section “Get link”.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Add people
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Add people
  1. 3. As shown below, the link is “Restricted” by default. Only people you have added to the file will be able to access this document using the link. Click on “Copy link” to share it.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Restricted link
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Restricted link
  1. 4. You can also make your spreadsheet editable by anyone who has the link. Click on “Restricted” to display the options and choose “Anyone with the link”. By default, Google creates a link with permission to view. Click on the “Viewer” drop-down option.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Anyone can view
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Anyone can view
  1. 5. From the drop-down menu, select “Editor”. When you share the link, any user set to “Editor” will be able to edit. This is not usually recommended as it could lead to unwanted changes or loss of data.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Anyone can edit
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Anyone can edit

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Add editing permissions to specific sheets

In some cases, you may need a colleague to help you with a specific sheet, but they don't need to edit the whole spreadsheet. Let's have a look at how to editors to specific sheets. 

  1. 1. Go to Data > Protected sheets and ranges.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Protect sheets
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Protect sheets
  1. 2. In the “Protect sheets & ranges” pane, click on “+ Add a sheet or range”.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Add sheet or range
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Add sheet or range
  1. 3. To protect a sheet, click on the tab to select it. Once you have selected the sheet, click on “Set permissions” to add the users who can edit your sheet.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Select sheet
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Select sheet
  1. 4. Select “Show a warning when editing this range” to notify any user who attempts to edit the sheet. Select “Restrict who can edit this range” and “Custom” to select the users from the current spreadsheet. You can also add more editors by entering their names or emails. Click “Done” to save your changes.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Custom permissions
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Custom permissions

Add editing permissions to specific ranges

In some cases, you may want to give editing access only for specific ranges, instead of a whole sheet. Let’s take a look at how to set permissions for a range of cells.

  1. 1. Go to Data > Protect sheets and ranges > Range > Add a sheet or range.
  2. 2. In the “Range” tab, select the cells you want and click on “Set permissions.”
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Choose range
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Choose range
  1. 3. You can choose whether to show a warning or restrict editing.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Range warning
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Range warning
  1. 4. You can restrict editing to “Only you”, as above, or to a “Custom” list of users. With the “Custom” option, you can select users with existing access, or you can add more editors at the bottom.
How to Make Google Sheets Editable by Multiple Users Range restrictions
How to Make Google Sheets Editable (by Multiple Users) - Range restrictions

How to make Google Sheets editable with Layer?

Layer is a collaboration platform for spreadsheets that works on top of your existing Excel files and Google Sheets. Share parts of your spreadsheet, collect and consolidate data, and review changes to make collaboration seamless and more efficient while keeping full control over your data. Using Layer, you can:

  • Manage Access: Give spreadsheet access on a tab or cell level to relevant stakeholders.
  • Collaborate: Automate tasks, set deadlines, and communicate on top of your files.
  • Review & Track: Consolidate input, track changes, and restore previous versions.

Sign up to get started with Layer right now or schedule an onboarding call so we can help you set up and share your spreadsheet flows.

Conclusion

More and more, spreadsheet users need to work collaboratively in real-time. This makes assigning and managing permissions in your spreadsheet more important than ever. As different editors will need to work in different areas, you will need to ensure that they have access only to what they need to edit.

As you have seen, it is now possible to make your Google Sheets editable in multiple ways. From adding editors to the entire spreadsheet to adding editors to specific cells, real-time collaboration in Google Sheets has certainly improved.

While this flexibility is very welcome, let's not forget it adds some complexity to managing access and permissions, which can lead to mistakes. If your spreadsheet contains sensitive information, make sure you test your permissions setup before sharing.

To learn more about sharing and collaboration in Google Sheets, check out our related articles:

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 16 2022, Updated Jun 13 2022