In Google Drive, does 'remove' delete a file? It says it's still accessible by collaborators, and my GB looks the same.

So it looks like the file is still there somewhere, not deleted, using space, and I can't see it. Nor could I see any delete option.

How can I delete it? And how can I view files that have been hidden by 'remove'.

Or is it really deleted?

  • 1
    Note that even when you do delete a file, it counts against your quota until it is removed from your Trash.
    – ale
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 16:32
  • @ale that was it, it was in my trash folder. I deleted it then refreshed and my quora ujpdated. You can post that as an answer.. but you should use the word 'remove' twice.. 'cos the google calls it remove when it moves it to the trash, and remove when it removes it from the trash..
    – barlop
    Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 20:37

3 Answers 3


Check that your file isn't in Trash. It still counts against your quota until it's permanently removed.


If the file was removed from a shared folder:

If you own the file and you deleted it, the file will be in your Trash. You can search your Trash to find it. Other people will still be able to find the file using the URL for that file, if they saved the URL (which always remains the same). Or, they could see in the Activity pane on the right-hand side of the shared folder (click the ⓘ icon) that you deleted it, then they can click on the name of that file there to find it. Although they can find it, they cannot edit it or add it to their Drive. For a Google Doc, they will see this dialogue box:

Removed file dialogue box

With general file types, the file cannot be downloaded or added to their Drive. Although, it seems that if it is subsequently shared (by any of the collaborators) with another person via e-mail, that person will be able to download it. This may be a bug.

The file will only be inaccessible to others if you go to the sharing settings for that file and remove the collaborators. Or, if you permanently delete it from Trash.

If you do not own the file and you deleted it (or rather, removed it from the folder), it will not be in your Trash. In fact, you just removed your access to it—even though everybody else can still completely access it. As before, they will be able to access it with the URL, or by clicking on the file name in the Activity pane. This time, the file still exists in the owner's Google account, but it is "orphaned", i.e. it does not belong in any folder in their account, but it still takes up storage space. The owner will be able to find their orphaned files by going to https://drive.google.com/drive/search?q=is:unorganized , that is, by searching "is:unorganized". Or, they could just search for the file name if they remember it (or find it in the Activity pane).

In this instance, it is possible to restore the file back to the folder if a collaborator adds it to their Drive, then moves it back to the folder.

If the file was shared individually:

If you own the file and you deleted it, the file is in your Trash, and it will be removed from the "Shared with Me"* of collaborators as well as the places in their Drive where they stored that file. Conveniently (for them), if you restore the file, it will also be put back in the places where they stored it in their Drive, and appear in their "Shared with Me" again.

Again, the collaborators will be able to find the file via the URL or their Activity pane, but won't be able to edit or download it.

If you do not own the file and you deleted it (or rather, removed it) from your Drive, it will still appear in "Shared with Me", and the owner and other collaborators won't be affected. You can also remove a file from "Shared with Me" that you no longer want listed there, but it isn't easy to find the file again if you do that.

*"Shared with Me" is a tab on the left-hand side.

  • 1
    your answer is pure gold, especially the part with is:unorganized helped me a lot. Thank you!
    – FurloSK
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 13:22

That occurs because you aren't the file owner. Only the owner is able to delete the file.

To see the files "hidden" by remove, go to https://drive.google.com/drive/shared-with-me.

To see the files that actually use your storage quota go to https://drive.google.com/drive/quota

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