Okay, so, you don’t want to brag, but you just made an awesome Google Form. Maybe you’ve finally perfected data collection for one of your tricky behavior kids – or maybe you imported a transition assessment that previously only existed in a dusty file cabinet. Either way, you know you’ve got something that’s too good not to share. You’ve shared a Google Doc with other coworkers before, so you make a couple of clicks and send out the template to your whole department. Easy-peasy, right?
But the next day when you check your form, everything is wrong! Some questions have been rephrased, while others are missing entirely. Responses to the form start rolling in but they’re for kids you’ve never even heard of. What happened??
You are not alone! For whatever reason, sharing a Google Form is not as intuitive as sharing a Google Doc. I consider myself pretty savvy with Google products, but even I have been tripped up by this in the past. Luckily, there’s a solution to this that doesn’t involve re-creating an entire form every time.
Why Sharing Copies of Google Forms Isn’t Easy
To start out, let me explain what is actually happening when you click that “Add Collaborators” button. Like Google Docs, you can collaborate with other individuals to create a Google Form together. This is great if you actually want to work together on a form, but not so great if you just want people to be able to copy your form for their own use. And unlike Google Docs, which gives the option to send someone a document with “view only,” the default options on a Google Form are either “private” or “edit” – which gives someone full access to change any part of the form. Even worse, there’s no way to revert a Google Form back to a previous version as you can with a Google Doc. This frustrating oversight has led me to have to redo forms entirely more times than I’d like to admit.
The good news is that there’s an easy fix to this problem – though it’s not what I’d call intuitive.
Sharing Copies of Google Forms
First, make sure editing is off on your form. If you’re doing this process with a new form, it should be off by default, but if you’re trying to fix an old form, go back to that “Add Collaborators” menu and change it back to private.
The next step involves “tricking” the Google Form to be view only. Since you can’t do this on the form itself, the quickest way to do this is to create a folder where your form will be stored and make that folder view-only. You may want to create a new folder for this if there are any documents you’d like to keep private.
Once you click “Share,” you’ll be given the option to share it with specific email addresses. Bypass this entirely and click “Advanced.”
By default, this will most likely say “Private.” Click “Change.”
From there, you’ll have several options – and they may look slightly different than mine. Generically, though, you should be able to share with other people in your organization, or open it up to anyone who has the link. I choose this option since I have a different email domain than the school district I work for, but if you want to share only with other people within your district you can definitely choose that option.
Now that you’ve changed your folder to be viewable to anyone with the link, any document stored within that folder will automatically mimic the same settings!
You can double-check your form, but now when you click “Add Collaborators” it should look just like mine – anyone with the link can now view instead of edit.
You’re so close! However, there’s still one more step as you shouldn’t actually share the form via this menu. If you do copy-paste that link to share, it’s just going to redirect to the public version of the form – as though you were asking them to fill it out.
Alternatively, if you use this menu to send it to people via email, they’re still going to be able to edit it, despite the menu saying it’s view-only (Again, why??).
Instead, go to the url itself when you’re viewing the form. It should look a little something like this.
See that part of the URL that says “edit?” Let’s change that.
Once you have the URL changed, you’re free to send it to anyone your heart desires without worry that they’ll accidentally change the form. Anyone who receives that URL will see a screen like this:
They’ll then be able to save a copy of the form to their Google Drive, modify it for their own purposes, and start sending it out to their own students/parents/whomevers.
Your last step is to figure out how you want to distribute the URL. It’s easy enough to copy-paste it into an email or a message. You can also drop it on a website just like this: https://docs.google.com/forms/u/4/d/1eZB66irpyE9ccZt2VT4NfEcW9w-JjumiRWPJ-YUPH-E/copy (Here’s your bonus if you’re looking for a sweet pre-IEP feedback form!)
Alternatively, if you’re using a Shared Google Drive, or want to leave a permanent link to the form somewhere so you don’t have to email it every time someone requests it, you can totally create a shared Google Doc that includes a link to your form.
For me, I wanted to include this particular form in a handout I put together on how to conduct an IEP via video conferencing. I created it as a Google Doc and then saved it as a PDF – the link is clickable in either format.
From there, you’re good to go! The last step is actually sending it out to people you want to fill it out – not edit it or save their own copy. That’s this nice bold “Send” button at the top.
While this process is not what I’d call instinctive, it is pretty quick and easy once you get the hang of it. Still, I hope Google will update this tool someday so that these instructions are obsolete! I don’t see any reason why this can’t be a one-click process as it is for other types of Google Docs.
I hope this helped you learn how to share copies of Google Forms! If this worked for you, I would love to hear about it in the comments. And if you’d like to receive other tips and tricks like this one, why not sign up for my mailing list below?