Google can be a little cumbersome when it comes to sharing. Often, when you try to share a document, Google Sheets tries to share the entirety of the document — and that’s not always what you want.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an internal way to share only a single sheet in Google Sheets. Rather, you need to get a little creative.
Let’s take a look at how to share only one sheet in Google Sheets.
The Design of a Google Sheet
If you’re familiar with Excel, you’re familiar with Google Sheets. A “Google Sheet” document is a single document — known as a “workbook” — composed of multiple pages.
Usually, when you share a Google Sheet, you’re sharing the entire document.
In this example, we have a sheet that contains our employee schedules. We have one page for “Anna” and another page for “Aaron.”
Understandably, we just want to share the schedule with employees on an individual basis. But we may want to keep everything in a single sheet for simplicity’s sake.
The most common method of sharing a Google Sheet is to click on the “Share” button. From there, you can either “Add People or Groups” or get a shareable link.
When sharing, you can choose one of three classifications:
- Viewer: This is someone who can view the content but cannot comment or edit it.
- Commenter: This is someone who can leave comments but cannot edit the document itself.
- Editor: This is someone who can view content, leave comments, and edit the file.
Usually, you should share most documents as “commenter” or “viewer.” When you allow people to edit your documents, you run the risk of losing content or changes.
If you do allow others to edit your documents, you will be able to track the given changes. You’ll see who edited what, when, and be able to revert changes if desired. Still, it is dangerous, and someone could potentially share your file with others who shouldn’t have it, or delete the file altogether.
An issue with sharing a file, however, is that it’s going to share the entire document — it’s not going to work if you’re interested in sharing only one tab.
If you want to share only one tab in Google Sheets, you’re usually going to have to remove the extraneous data from the document.
There are a few methods you can use to do this.
Linking Someone to a Specific Tab in Your Google Sheet
Let’s say that Aaron knows exactly when Anna works, regardless — you’re not trying to hide information, you just want to make sure he ends up on the right sheet.
If he just opens the URL, he’s going to end up on Anna’s page and could get confused.
It’s possible to link someone directly to a specific tab in your Google Sheet. You do so by first going to the sheet that you want them to view.
When you’re on the first page, you’ll see gid=0 at the end of the URL. But in this case, when we click on Aaron’s tab, we see gid=2068619782.
Add “gid=2068619782” to the end of your shareable URL, and they’ll be automatically directed toward the appropriate tab.
The problem, of course, is that you still can see other sheets. You’re being directed to a specific one, but can still click on any of them. So, while easier to use, it’s not that secure.
It’s also not an altogether intuitive method of sharing one sheet, because you’re going to need to find the “gid” — and because it’s hard to explain to someone what you did.
But if you’re just going to be sending someone a URL and you don’t particularly care if they can see the other data, this is the best solution available.
Protecting Sheets from Being Viewed by Other Users
What if employees shouldn’t see the schedules of other employees? Perhaps the sheets also contain privileged information, such as pay scales. There may come a time when you need to share a sheet and protect the other sheets from view.
In this workbook, we also have a sheet called payroll information. Anna makes more than Aaron, likely because she has seniority, or perhaps because she has some additional responsibilities.
You can right-click on the sheet and click on “Hide” to hide this from users. As long as users are “Commenter” or “Viewer,” they aren’t going to be able to edit the sheet to un-hide this page.
But that’s not very secure. The problem with this is that you are going to have to “un-hide” the sheet, like so:
When you un-hide the sheet, someone else may be able to see it. And, you’re only going to be able to hide everything from everyone at once, not just one thing from one person at a time.
Protecting Other Sheets
It should also be noted that you can set protections for sheets. Protections mean that people cannot edit those sheets even if they can view them.
For instance, you might set it so that Anna cannot edit Aaron’s sheet and Aaron cannot edit Anna’s. This would be very convenient if you were asking them to set their own schedules and didn’t care whether they could each view each other’s sheets.
You can do this by right-clicking on a sheet at selecting “Protect Sheet.” From there, you select the users who are able to make modifications to the sheet.
In fact, in this situation it might even be the best solution to this particular problem — they would be able to see each other’s sheets to check their schedules, but not be able to edit them.
Obviously, the downside again is that you aren’t able to hide information in this way. You can just protect it from being altered. If you have privileged information on these sheets that you want to protect, the solution won’t cut it.
Making a New File With One Sheet
So far, we have fairly imperfect solutions. While we are able to point people to a single sheet, or while we are able to hide other sheets, we haven’t been able to entirely remove the data that we’re trying to protect.
But, as mentioned, Google doesn’t have an internal method of just sharing a single sheet. Instead, you’ll have to actually create a workbook that only has a single sheet in it.
An expedient way to share a single sheet is to first create a copy of your file.
Once you’ve created a copy of the file, delete the other pages, and then share the sheet with the given person.
This has some major privacy and security advantages. One, the data that guide trying to protect is no longer in the file at all. You don’t need to worry about whether they might be able to access it because the data isn’t there. You also don’t need to share it in any special way; sharing it with the individual is all you need.
But it has some drawbacks, too. You’ll have to update each sheet independently of the larger document. You won’t be able to retain links between the sheets because they will be separate workbooks. And you’ll have a lot of extra files.
Note: There are also some other ways that you can create a workbook that only contains one sheet. As an example, you could create a new, blank workbook and copy the sheet over manually.
Exporting Your Google Sheets Page
So, what if you don’t want to deal with multiple workbooks, but you do want to share a single sheet?
There’s one final solution you can try: exporting from the document. With this method, you retain the original workbook.
First, you go to File -> Download. Then, select “PDF Document.”
At the very top, you’ll see “Current sheet.” This lets you export only the current sheet.
This does create an additional file that you can either share through Google Docs or email as an attachment. But it doesn’t require alteration of the original document. Instead, you’ll be able to export sheet by sheet whenever you want to share a given page.
And, you’ll be aware that the data that you’re trying to protect is not in the file that you’re sharing. For most people, this would be the fastest, easiest way to share a single sheet on Google Sheets. The downside is that you’re going to be exporting it as a PDF document, which isn’t something that the other person will be able to edit or share back with you.
Note that you can also export an XLS sheet using this method, but it will export the entire workbook. If you want to, you could export an XLS sheet and then delete the pages that you don’t want — but that still creates other issues, because it complicates your content pipeline. Ultimately, the goal is to be able to export a single sheet from your Google sheet without disrupting the original workbook or requiring too many steps.
Printing the Sheet
Of course, it should also be noted that there is a far more direct way to share a single sheet. You can always just print the document. If you print the document, you can hand out the sheets at will.
The majority of the time, the reason that you would want to share a single page as a Google Sheet is so the other person can edit it. But if it’s part of a larger workbook regardless, this would actually be a chore; you would need to bring the data they change into the original workbook when they’re done.
If you want to hand someone an uneditable copy of the document, the fastest, easiest way is always going to be to just print the given page. Not only does this have the fewest potential security issues, but it’s also the most straightforward solution to the technological problem.
Sharing Only One Sheet on Google Sheets
The bottom line: Google doesn’t have a specific process or protocol for sharing a single sheet.
Rather, there are a few workarounds you might use. You can prevent people from editing specific sheets, you can hide sheets, and you can export and share individual sheets from a larger workbook.
This can be a little inconvenient. You might have multiple pages of a workbook that are all related to each other, but you might only want certain people to see a single page. For most people, exporting a PDF copy of that page — or even printing the page — may be the easiest way to share the information.
When developing your Google Sheets documents, you might want to keep this in mind. Consider the fact that data shared in a single sheet is likely to be viewable by anyone the sheet is shared with, and that it may be difficult for you to share single sheets without splitting up the file.