Learn about secret URL tricks for Google Drive to quickly create direct download links, copy or preview shared files in Drive.
With Google Drive, you can store files in the cloud and share them easily with anyone. Open any file in Google Drive, click the Share button and you’ll get a URL (link) that others can use to access your file. This is common knowledge but Google Drive has plenty of URL tricks up its sleeve that will make these simple Drive links even more powerful.
Google Drive URL Tricks
Google Drive Web Viewer
Google Drive includes a built-in web viewer so people can view your shared files – from Microsoft Office documents to videos to AutoCAD drawings – directly in their browser. You can use this web viewer to view online files without having to download the files to your computer.
Replace FILE_URL with the full http link of the online document and anyone can view your file in the browser itself. Here’s an example.
Reader Mode for Google Drive Files
You can view native Google documents in reader mode (sans the Google UI) by simply replace /edit in the Google Drive file URL with /preview.
So if the original share link of a file in Google Drive is:
The native file viewer is useful but sometimes you may want to bypass the built-in Google Docs viewer and force the browser to download the file instead of opening it. Thus if a user has Photoshop on their computer, the PSD file that you have shared through Google Drive will open in Photoshop and not in their web browser.
Create Direct Download Links and Skip the Web Viewer
When you upload any file in Google Drive and share it, the shared link looks like this:
The FILE_ID is unique for every file in Google Drive. If you copy this FILE_ID and use it in the URL below, you’ll get a direct link to download the file from Google Drive (example).
The directly download URL trick works for native Google documents as well. This comes really handy if you want to give users an option to download your Google Document as a read-only PDF file or your Google Spreadsheet as an Excel XLS file.
The direct download links for Google Slides is slightly different then Google Documents. Here replace /edit with /export/format where format can be pptx for downloading Google Slides as Microsoft Powerpoint files or PDF for exporting the presentation as a PDF slideshow.
The direct links for downloading the same presentation deck in PowerPoint (.pptx) and PDF formats are below: For instance, here’s a presentation on Google Slides that you directly download as a PDF or a PPT file.
Download Google Slides as PNG Files
With Google Slides, you can either export the entire presentation as a PDF or you can create links to individual slides that will download the slide as a high-res PNG file.
All you need to do is add ?pageid=pPAGE_NUMBER to the export url. So if I were to download the 10th slide as a PNG file, the URL would be:
The /copy URL trick works for Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Google Scripts. Add ?copyComments=true if you would like the copied document to include the comments from the original document. Set includeResolvedCommentsOnCopy=false to skip copying resolved comments and copyCollaborators=false to not share the copied document with the original collaborators.
You can use it for Google Forms as well but the form will be copied to another user’s Google Account only if the form owner has granted access to the form.
Invite users when copying documents
If you add email@example.com to the copy URL, the Google user who is copying the document will be prompted to share the document with the specific Google account immediately after copying the document.