Making a Copy of Google Drive Files (Not a Copy of a Shortcut)

This KB Article References: Google Drive
This Information is Intended for: Instructors, Staff
Created: 09/29/2022 Last Updated: 04/08/2024

If you need to have a copy of a Google Drive item, especially one you don't own (in case the original goes to trash/is deleted), you can do so with the right-click or options ⋮ menu). For example, if you've searched for files not owned by you and sorted by last modified and you see an important file you don't own, make a copy.

In this article you will learn about:

Making a Copy of a Google or Office File or New Google Site

It is a better practice to open a file to make a copy to avoid making copies of shortcuts:

  1. Open a file in Google Drive
    1. For Google Docs/Slides/Sheets/Excel/PowerPoint/Word, near the top left click File > Make a copy
      " "
    2. For Google Forms, click > Make a copy near the top right
      make a copy google form
    3. For New Google Sites, click > Make a copy near the top right
      Make a copy 
  2. For Files, in the Copy document window, click Folder and choose a location for the copy:
    Tip: Select a Shared Drive so that the Shared Drive owns it, not any one person (but note that you cannot put Google Forms with file-upload questions in Shared Drives)
    1. So that no one looses access, check the box for ☑︎ Share it with the same people
    2. Optionally, check the box for ☑︎ Copy comments and suggestions and ☑︎ Include resolved comments and suggestions to keep active comments and the history of comments
    3. Click Make a copy
  3. For Google Forms with Responses you want to keep, also make a copy of the Responses Spreadsheet:
    1. In the original Google Form, near the top center click Responses
    2.  Near the right, click the green View Responses in Sheets or Create Sheet button, and the Sheet of responses will open
      google form responses view spreadsheet
    3. Copy the Google Sheet of responses following steps 1-2 above
      Tip: Create a folder in the copies' new location to put the Form and responses Sheet together
  4. For New Google Sites, in the Copy site window
    1. For Folder, click Change and choose a location for the copy and click Select
      Tip: Select a Shared Drive so that the Shared Drive owns it, not any one person
      put copy in shared drive, share with same editors
    2. Check the box for ☑︎ Share with the same editors
      : If you check this box, the copy is only shared with site Editors. If your published site is shared Restricted (so only specific people can view the published site) those with Published Viewer are not copied. Make a note of who has Published Viewer access, and when you're ready to publish the site copy, re-add them.
      Google sites sharing screen showing owner and editor are added to site copies as Editors; those with published viewer access are not added
    3. Select Entire site to copy the whole site
    4. Click OK
  5. The Copy opens

Making a Copy of a Non-Google Files (pdfs, images)

  1. Right-click on the item OR click ⋮ near the top right of the list of files
  2. Select Make a copy
  3. The new item will have the same name of the original with Copy of prepended (e.g., making a copy of "Important File" will create a copied named "Copy of Important File") 
  4. Your copy will be placed in My Drive and not organized in a folder. To search for the file, in the search bar, type Copy and press Enter on your keyboard 
  5. The file you just created by making a Copy should appear at the top of the list
  6. To be sure no one losses access to the file, move the file to a Shared Drive so that the Shared Drive owns it, not any one person. Learn how, here
  7. Repeat steps 1-3 for additional files as needed 

Avoid Making Copies of a Shortcut

When you right-click on a file in Google Drive, you may see "Make a Copy". 
You will need to ensure that you do not right-click on a shortcut.

A shortcut has an arrow on the icon


When you right-click on shortcuts you will see Make a Copy but take notice, it will make a copy of the shortcut and NOT the file.

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