In an era where data breaches are increasingly common, protecting sensitive information within your Google Sheets is paramount. This tutorial will guide you through essential steps to secure your spreadsheet templates, including how to configure privacy controls and understand sharing settings effectively.


  • Learn how to apply privacy controls to safeguard your data in Google Sheets.
  • Understand the implications of different sharing settings for your spreadsheet templates.
  • Implement best practices for maintaining the security of your data.


  • A Google account.
  • Basic familiarity with Google Sheets.

Materials Needed

  • A computer with internet access.
  • A Google Sheets document containing sensitive data (e.g., financial records, personal information).

Step-by-Step Instructions

Example Spreadsheet Data

Consider a financial record template that includes the following sensitive information:

Date Transaction Description Amount Category Notes
2024-01-01 Office Supplies $150 Operational Staples purchase
2024-01-03 Client Lunch $80 Entertainment Meeting with ABC Co.

Step 1: Understanding Sharing Settings

  1. Access Sharing Settings: Click the "Share" button in the top-right corner of your Google Sheets document.
  2. Review Permissions: Notice the difference between "Editor", "Commenter", and "Viewer" permissions. Editors can make changes to the document, commenters can leave comments without altering the content, and viewers can only view the document.
  3. Link Sharing: Pay attention to the link sharing options. A document can be private (off), or accessible to anyone with the link, or public on the web.

Step 2: Applying Privacy Controls

  1. Restricting Access: For sensitive documents, keep the sharing setting to "Off - Specific people" and only share with individuals who require access.
  2. Limiting Permissions: Share the document with most users as "Viewer" or "Commenter" to prevent unauthorized edits.
  3. Disable Link Sharing: Ensure that "Anyone with the link" is turned off to avoid unauthorized access. This can be found in the sharing settings under "Get Link".

Step 3: Using Protected Ranges and Sheets

  1. Protecting Specific Data: To prevent specific ranges from being edited, go to Data > Protected sheets and ranges. Select the range you want to protect, click "Set permissions", and specify who can edit this range.
  2. Sheet Protection: You can also protect entire sheets within a spreadsheet to ensure that only authorized users can make changes.

Step 4: Auditing and Monitoring Access

  1. Reviewing Editors: Regularly review the list of individuals who have editing access. Remove access for those who no longer require it.
  2. Version History: Use "Version history" (File > Version history > See version history) to monitor changes and identify unauthorized edits. This feature allows you to see who made changes and when.

Step 5: Additional Security Measures

  1. Two-Factor Authentication: Ensure that all users with access to sensitive documents have two-factor authentication enabled on their Google accounts for an added layer of security.
  2. Training and Awareness: Educate team members on the importance of data security and the proper handling of sensitive information.

Tips and Tricks

  • Regular Updates: Keep your contact list up-to-date and regularly audit access permissions to ensure only current team members have access.
  • Confidential Information: Consider adding a disclaimer at the top of your spreadsheet regarding the sensitivity of the information and the need to keep it confidential.
  • Backup Important Data: Regularly export and backup important data to avoid loss due to accidental deletion or unauthorized access.


By implementing these privacy controls and understanding sharing settings, you can significantly enhance the security of your data in Google Sheets. Protecting your spreadsheet templates is crucial, especially when handling sensitive information, to prevent unauthorized access and ensure that your data remains confidential.

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