Synchronous Collaboration with Non-Google Accounts

Benjamin Cebulash
PD Specialist
News on October 29 2020

Google is currently rolling out visitor sharing. This means you’re able to share items with non-Google accounts, enabling them to view, comment on, or edit content in Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Sites using a secure PIN number.  

This feature enables visitors through:  

  • Rich collaboration that includes comments, edits, and more, with anyone you need to work with, regardless of whether they have a Google account.  
  • Audit logging for collaboration with visitors, so that all interactions are monitored and recorded.  
  • The ability to revoke access and remove collaborators as needed.  
  • A better and more streamlined way to work with external users who don’t have Google accounts.  

If the visitor chooses to create a G Suite account with their email address, their collaboration and activity history will be preserved after the account is created.  

If you’re a Google Admin, here are some considerations for sharing with non-Google accounts 

  • This new option to share outside of your organization to users with non-Google accounts will be ON by default if you currently allow users in your organization to send sharing invitations to people outside your organization.
  • In contrast, sharing outside of your organization to users with non-Google accounts will be OFF by default if you currently do not allow sharing outside your organization or if you use domain whitelisting.
  • Visitor sharing settings can be controlled by heading to: Admin console > Apps > G Suite > Drive and Docs > Sharing Settings (see image below.) The new settings can be controlled at the domain or OU level. 

Here’s how sharing features with a non-Google account work

  • Once turned on for your organization, users will be able to share files and folders with visitors in the same way they share with Google users.  
  • People with non-Google accounts will receive an email invitation in order to collaborate on the shared file or folder.  
  • Users have seven days to verify their identity with a PIN to be able to collaborate on the shared file or folder.   
  • If the user needs to collaborate longer than seven days, they can go back to the original link from their email to verify their identity again. 
  • Once authenticated, visitors can view, comment, and directly edit files and folders. If a visitor has edit access, they can re-share the file with another Google user. 
  • Visitors cannot create or own files and folders. 
  • Visitors can delete their visitor session. 
  • Visitor accounts can be seen in the sharing dialog where you can change or revoke their access just like any other collaborators. 

Ready to share? Here are the file types you can share out to non-Google accounts 

  • Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Sites 
  • Images such as JPEGs 
  • PDFs 
  • Office files 
  • Video 
  • Folders 

Historically, items created using Google apps were limited to domain and Google users, and therefore involved a great deal of asynchronous collaboration and platform coordination between non-Google accounts.  Now, you have the freedom and ability to work synchronously with your anyone you choose.  

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom check out more articles on our blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.

Related Articles & Other Recommended Reading

3 Must-Have Extensions for Google Chrome
Extensions are powerful additions to the Chrome browser that add extra functionality to websites and applications. Some of these extensions work by adding features to individual apps (think Google Meet Grid view) or to all websites that are visited in Chrome, like the Google Translate extension. Let’s take a look at some of the top […]


Discover AI While Using Google with Your Students
In our last AI-related blog, we provided an overview of 5 Practical Ways AI Can be Used in Education. Here we explore the many facets of AI built into Google. Google is a popular platform used during teaching and learning in the workplace, and even at home. There’s Google Drive for “storing, accessing, and sharing […]


Paced Instruction with SMART Learning Suite Online
SMART Learning Suite Online (SLSO) can be used as a stand-alone product, or can be integrated with Google Workspace for Education, Microsoft Teams, Canvas, and more. A feature of SMART Learning Suite Online that we like to draw attention to is the option for teacher-paced and/or student-paced learning. While delivering lessons to students synchronously via […]