I am sharing a directory in Google Drive to an external user. (This user is a service account that uses the Google Drive API v3 to browse files and folders shared with it.)

I expected that sharing the top level directory will give my user access to everything in the hierarchy under this top-level directory. That seems to be true, but it seems to "take a while": children files and folders appear one by one in the API results, after a few minutes.

Also, using the Google Drive website, when clicking the sharing window for a folder, some children folders reported that they were shared with the user, some not. EDIT: I was seeing a different window in that case, titled "Send the link" instead of "Share with people and groups".

After a few days, some grandchildren directories were still not shared with the user.

Is it possible to know how long the full process takes? Is there any way to speed it up?


I've made some progress in understanding this issue:

  • there is definitely a few minutes of delay before recursive sharing has its final effect on the response from the API,
  • sharing is recursive but limited to items I have an editing access level upon (because sharing is considered an editing action). In my case, I had write access over the top level directory, and some children but not others. Items that the sharer cannot edit or share specifically, will not be shared to the sharee.

A quick check to see whether you have editing rights on an item, is to right click -> see if the "Rename" action is available, or greyed out. The sharing window also says "Send the link" instead of "Share with people and groups" if you don't have the necessary rights.

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