About Permissions

Access to files & folders is determined by an access control list (ACL). An ACL is a list of permissions that determine whether or not users can perform actions on a file such as read or write.

Types, roles and values: how the permissions work

Lists of permissions are available for each file and folder in Drive. Each permission specifies a type, role, and emailAddress or domain, permitting a level of access to a file or folder. These values work together to limit the access appropriately. The type limits access to a set of users. The email address and domain fields specify which users can have access. Finally, the role gives these users the ability to do something to the file, like read it. When combined, these properties define a complete permission.


Each permission in the Google Drive API has a role. A role defines what users can do with a file. The following table describes what operations users in each role can perform.

Permitted operation organizer/owner writer commenter reader
Read the metadata (e.g. name, description) of the file or folder
Read the content of the file
Read the list of items in the folder
Add comments to the file
Modify the metadata of the file or folder
Modify the content of the file
Access historical revisions
Add items to the folder
Remove items from the folder
Delete the file or folder

Types and values

Every permission of a file or folder has a type. The type is the scope of the permission, and determines which users have a role. Permissions with types user and groups also have an emailAddress. Permissions with type domain have a corresponding domain property that specifies the domain name. For example, a permission with a type of domain may have a domain of thecompany.com, indicating that the permission grants the given role to all users in the G Suite domain thecompany.com. The list shows what types and values are possible.

Type Field Possible values
user emailAddress Email address of a user. Example: joe@thecompany.com
group emailAddress Email address of a Google Group. Example: admins@thecompany.com
domain domain Domain name of G Suite domain. Example: thecompany.com
anyone N/A The anyone permission does not require an emailAddress or domain field.

IDs and names

The id is always the unique identifier of the value of the permission. IDs should be treated as opaque values.

The displayName is always the "pretty" name of the value of the permission. The following is a list of potential names for each type of permission.

Type Possible name values
user User's full name, as defined for their Google account. Example: Joe Smith
group Name of the Google Group. Example: The Company Administrators
domain String domain name. Example: thecompany.com
anyone No displayName is present.
Share a Team Drive item
Add files to Team Drives
Delete items in Team Drives1
Move items in Team Drives1
Edit Team Drive metadata
Add Team Drive members
Delete an empty Team Drive

Parent-child propagation

ACLs set on folders propagate downward to all contained items. Propagation occurs whenever permissions or the hierarchy are changed, and is done recursively through all nested folders.

Inherited permissions can not be removed from an item in a Team Drive. Instead it can be adjusted on the direct or indirect parent from which it was inherited. Inherited permissions may be removed from items under "My Drive" or "Shared with me."


The effective permissions for the current user are represented as capabilities in the file metadata. Capabilities are a collection of boolean fields that indicate whether or not an action can be performed on the file.