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How To See Who Viewed your Google Doc

Posted by Jamie on June 24, 2019

If your organization uses Google Docs or G Suite or you work with organizations that do, knowing who viewed what document and when can be useful information. From ensuring everyone read a draft, terms and conditions, your latest submission, policies and procedures, or some other important document, being able to see who did what and when is an essential ingredient in any situation where accountability matter.

Until recently, you couldn’t see who viewed your Google Doc. You could see who edited it but not who just read it. If they didn’t save, edit or leave a comment, you had no idea if a particular person read the latest version of a document at all. Also, since you can share Google Docs with read-only permissions, you can share the document with some people with the intent that they review the document but not make any changes.

Now, if you work within an organization you can configure things so you can see who viewed your Google Doc. You still cannot see who viewed your Google Doc if you use Google Doc in the free version of Google Apps.

Google recently added the capability to see who viewed your Google Doc to G Suite, which includes Google Apps and reliable email hosting. G Suite is very popular with small and medium-sized businesses who want to set up email hosting for the company domain name.

The G Suite Activity Monitor

If you use G Suite within an organization and you’ve shared a Google Doc with others for collaboration or just to read the document, you can use the Activity Monitor to see the “view history” of the Google Doc file.

  1. Open the Google Doc for which you’d like to look at the view history
  2. Then click on the upward trending arrow icon in the upper right or go to the Tools pull-down menu
  3. Open the Activity Monitor
  4. Next, click on the All viewers for your organization tab

This process will enable you to track views in the document, including the date and time of the last view for each viewer. If you don’t see the view history option in your Google Doc it likely means you’re logged into the free version of Google Docs that comes along with every Google Apps account that you get with a Gmail account.

Viewers and Comments Trends

In addition to seeing who viewed your Google Doc and when the Activity Monitor also enables you to see trends on when people viewed or commented on your document.

Viewers Trend – shows you a bar chart of the number of unique viewers over any span of time you choose from 7 days to “all time”

Comments Trend – shows you bar charts of the comment trend over any span of time from 7 days to “all time”

Turn off View History

You can turn the feature off to if you’re working on a confidential file or something not for public consumption. While it doesn’t add to privacy, it’s a setting to set the mind at ease.

  1. Open the Google Doc
  2. Click on the upward trending arrow in the upper right side of your doc or go to Tools from the pull-down menu
  3. Open the Activity Monitor
  4. Under Document Setting, toggle Show my view history for this document to off

turn google doc view history off

See who changed your Google Doc

Counting views is useful for accountability and to make sure the people you send a document to actually read it but version control is more important. Especially if you work in a regulated industry. Version control is something Google Docs has done for a while and will show who has edited a document, saved or shared it.

If you’re interested in version control or want to make sure nobody has made changes they shouldn’t without locking the file down, you can find out.

  1. Open a Google Doc you want to track
  2. Select File and Version History
  3. Select See Version History

A slider window should appear on the right of your screen showing every save and edit for the document in question. Depending on how you have G Suite or Google Docs set up, you can also see this data by selecting the ‘Last edit was…’ link at the top of the document. It takes you to exactly the same place.

Within that slide window, you should also have the option to view the previous version of the document before the edits were made. This is essential for version control as you have an audit trail of what changes were made, when and by whom. It is also useful if you made some changes, sleep on it, change your mind and want to roll them back.

See who has shared your Google Doc

You can also see who has shared your Google Doc and when. You can also see the sharing settings so you can better control access to your document.

  1. Open Google Drive and select the round ‘i’ icon in the top right
  2. Select Activity from the slider that appears on the right

You should see whether the Doc is or has been shared, who last edited the document and when the last action was taken on it. It’s brief but tells you what you need to know.

You can also check from within the document by selecting Share. The names of individuals will appear in the popup window. If there are multiple people, select a name and the list of all names will appear.

That’s how to see who viewed your Google Doc, changed it, shared it or interacted with it in any way. It only works for G Suite and Google Docs registered to organizations and not individuals but it works!

3 thoughts on “How To See Who Viewed your Google Doc”

Natasha says:
There is a circle that indicates who is reviewing your google doc. What does it mean when it is bounching Vs not on the page being viewing
Reply
Chris Larsen says:
I can’t see view history on those that are not part of my organization. If I share my document to someone anonymously, should I be able to see those viewers?
Reply
Billy Bob Joe says:
Just go to tools then activity dashboard. You’ll see a bunch of info there.
Reply
Bily Bobby Joey says:
I don’t have the activity dashboard option on my tools part
Reply
Jackie says:
This might be the reason
“If you don’t see the view history option in your Google Doc it likely means you’re logged into the free version of Google Docs that comes along with every Google Apps account that you get with a Gmail account.”

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