File: Make a Copy-URL TRICKS

File: Make a Copy-URL TRICKS

Sharing URL tricks within the GSuite files and documents are always my favorite thing to do when I am teaching educators. It makes me feel like a magician.

I remember when I first started to learn about GSuite,  I had a hard time understanding between view only and sharing let alone realizing that there are URL tricks.

I mean I grew up with the flash/thumb drive in which you had to save, then download, then upload again. I cried many tears when I realized I had edited and/or saved the wrong copy on my flash drive and had to restart the process all over again. 

With distance learning in full bloom, I figured I would discuss some features regarding the shareable links within the G Suite Apps. 

What are shareable links?

Shareable links allow for the owner of the file to share with another user. The owner can decide if the file will be shared with anyone in the organization or externally as well. Also, the owner can decide to give the user access to view, edit, or comment on the document. 

If I make a copy will the owner know?

YES! Just kidding. No, the owner does not receive any notifications. However, a box will pop up and indicated if you want to share it with the same people and/or copy comments. Which if you selected those checkboxes and then YES, the owner will know because they will get another copy of their document in their drive. The best practice would be to make a copy and deselect that you do not want to share with the same people.. If you make a copy and will distribute the item without make changes always want to give credit and you would never want to copy something that did not to belong to you. 

Should I make a copy of every file that is shared with me?

No. When you make a copy of a file it will become independent of the original file. Therefore if the original file has been changed your copy will not be updated. So for example, when I send out my weekly agenda (on a Google Slide), it is set to view only. Students will not be able to make a copy because if I need to change the weekly agenda, their copy will not display the changes. 

However, if you want to keep a copy of any document to be store in your Google Drive then go for it! But know that if the original is changed your copy will not reflect that at all.

How do I force a copy of a document?

Force a copy? Yes, it means exactly that! Instead of sharing your view-only file, you can edit the URL of your document so that it will force a copy to the user. I use this all the time with colleagues when sharing resources in sessions and my classroom.

 If I know I will not make changes to my original document or someone wants a copy so they can alter it. I send them a forced copy. This trick works within Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Drawings, and Jamboard.

What is Google Jamboard? Click here to read all about it!

So how do you do that? Change the /edit at the end of the URL with /copy. Copy that URL and paste it into an email or use a URL shortener.  Google Classroom does that automatically when you select ‘Make a Copy for Each Student’. 

Made with Canva. Here is my referral link:

As much as I enjoy using this trick, it does not let the user “see” what they are copying. The URL will prompt if the user would like to make a copy as shown below.

Is there another way to copy or view a Google document?

Yes! There are FOUR more ways but each will give you a different look for the user.

  1. Preview 

When you change the URL to preview, the user will see your document free of the toolbars and menus. Using the preview link, your user will not be able to see real-time editing. However, once it is refreshed or opened again a new recent version will be shown. 

To do this change the end of the URL from /edit to /preview. In the preview mode, users do NOT get to make a copy they get to preview and interact with your document. 

Made with Canva. Here is my referral link:
  1. Publish to the Web

Publishing your document to the web has the same look and feel as the preview option mentioned above. However, your document becomes an HTML webpage that more users can still interact with than when the file is in preview mode. Besides, the file that you have published to the web is updated just like a webpage. Anytime the publish to the web link is shared the user gets an up-to-date view of the file.

Once you click the on the publish button, you can use that link to share with your user. Also you can embed it as well on a website.

  1. Template

There are times that I want my students to choose which organizers, choice board, or writing prompts they would like to use.  If I forced the copies then they will have all three in their drives. Using the template mode, allows the user to see the document. When the user clicks the blue USE TEMPLATE button, they will get their own independent copy of the document. Super rad, right? LOL. 

To do this change the /edit to /template/preview. Make sure that the word /template/preview is together as one phrase at the end of the URL. 

Made with Canva. Here is my referral link:
  1. PDF

I like to choose the PDF trick so when I want someone to have a final copy of my document and not have the user “linked” to my file. I specifically use this trick with parents so that way there are no logins or access issues. All links embedded within the Google Doc or Slides will still work.

I always struggle with the URL trick for Google Docs, Sheets, and Jamboard because I always leave a symbol or letter out. To do this you would change /edit to /export?format=pdf.

Now for Slides and Drawings, you would change the URL from /edit to /export/pdf.

Simple right? I wish that there was a simpler way to change the URLs to all of these! Oh, wait…THERE IS! 

SIR LINKS-A-LOT Chrome Extension

Sir Links-A-Lot does all this for you and more! This Google Chrome extension was created by Curt Schleibaum. Curt and I go way back! We are a part of the same Google Innovator Cohort (COL16) and I am so glad that he created this extension.

The Sir Links-A-Lot extension when installed will show you the current URL of the document you are in and give you four options to choose from. Those options are:

  1. Force Copy
  2. Preview
  3. Template
  4. PDF

This extension will take the URL and copy the link to your clipboard, or create a shortened link (using or open a link in a new tab. Isn’t that great?

Currently, it does not work with Jamboard. You should know how much I love Jamboard. If not check out this post! The URL tricks for force copy and PDF for Jamboard must be entered manually.

Google Classroom 

I want to warn you that these URL tricks will NOT work in Google Classroom. Google Classroom will automatically change the settings back to their regular form.

However, I do have a trick for you. If you use a URL shortener like and then paste the link (from any of the tricks I mentioned above) in the assignment description or link setting of the assignment then it will WORK! I learned that the hard way. 

TIP: Google Classroom will give you an option for every Google document you connect to either: Student can edit (which means ALL students on ONE file), Students can View (they can only view it and not change any of it), or lastly to Make A Copy for each student ( which will make an independent copy of your original document for each student). If you want to learn more about Google Classroom let me know!

Enjoy the different URL tricks on how to ‘FILE: MAKE A COPY’. Remember to take care of yourself. I hope you found this information helpful.  I have included my video below. Thanks for reading and helping me to grow my blog!

Talk soon,

RO Signature

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