Is it possible to have clean URLs for Google Drive items? By items I mean folders (collections) and files.

There are currently horrendously long strings of numbers and letters in a URL. They look messy and don't say much about the item that they link to.

There are W3C guidelines on good URLS, Google Drive therefore clearly breaks them at the moment.


What I am looking for would be something like:


Where is a user name, e.g. johnsmith:


or for a company that hosts its documents with Google Drive (paid service to Google, Google Drive for Business):


Where and are replace with the user's name and the company or organisation that they work at:



Surely this makes a lot of sense?

  • No, it doesn't make sense. It makes it far too easy for someone to guess at documents that someone might have in their GDrive. Imagine you have malicious intent, a million Google usernames, and some modest scripting skills. How simple would it be for you to automate trying to find http://drive.google.com/users/{username}/mydocuments/passwords.txt?
    – ale
    Jul 31, 2012 at 13:31
  • And, "W3C guidelines on good URLs"? Are you sure you don't mean SEO guidelines? For what it's worth, Sir Tim Berners-Lee never anticipated that a human would ever want to see (much less read) a URL.
    – ale
    Jul 31, 2012 at 13:32
  • And, just a little further: What's the question here? You seem to be trying to engender a conversation about how Google Drive builds URLs, but don't have a specific problem you're trying to solve.
    – ale
    Jul 31, 2012 at 13:33
  • The question here is of usability (being able to remember a URL or use it to help navigation) and, to a less important extent, aesthetics. Jul 31, 2012 at 13:51
  • 4
    "Imagine you have malicious intent, a million Google usernames, and some modest scripting skills. How simple would it be for you to automate trying to find http://drive.google.com/users/{username}/mydocuments/passwords.txt " - that assumes the document has been made publicly visible, if it hasn't then the document is not visible, right? So, if only authorized people can see it, i.e. they have to login, then do you think this is still a security issue? Jul 31, 2012 at 14:21

2 Answers 2


Surely this makes a lot of sense?

Actually, it doesn't work as well as you might think at first. The URLs Google is using are stable: they contain only the document's id. The owner of the document can change. A document can have many users with various and changing privileges. The title/name of the document can change. If any of these properties were present in the URL, then the URL would change when the document was changed. This would present a serious problem. Instead the URLs contain the only stable information: the unique id generated by the system. (this is more fundamental, but is in addition to the information leakage concerns noted by myselfpoddar)

A relevant article by Tim Berners-Lee titled Cool URIs don't change

  • 1
    +1 and accepted because you actually cover good points about ownership and title changes as well as security and that a unique id addresses all of these. My question had an element of "devils advocate" meaning I was willing to be incorrect about needing that requirement. Aug 1, 2012 at 9:04

What you are asking for is clearly not available at the moment and also, I say that it is never going to be available. Linking the of the Google Drive Account holder with each of his/her's file is something almost no one would want. There has never been any way to know the owner of a Document from it's link.

If you want your Document links to look good, short and informative about the document, you can use a URL Shortening service such as bit.ly, tiny.cc or Google's own goo.gl

  • 1
    Why would they not want this? (I'm not saying they should but please enlighten me) In a workplace that uses Google Drive/Docs would you not want to share docs with clean URLs rather than those with extraneous URLs? If people can only see the document and it's parent folder if they are logged in then is this a problem? Jul 31, 2012 at 14:23
  • @therobyouknow You visit the link of a google doc from a company with "Survey2" written in the end. You guess that there must be a file named "Survey" or "Survey1" or "Survey3". You guessed it right and are able to view these files.
    – user19533
    Jul 31, 2012 at 15:50
  • See this question:webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/24014/… and my answer to it.
    – user19533
    Jul 31, 2012 at 15:52
  • One could only view "Survey" or "Survey1" or "Survey3" if they had the same permissions as Survey2, surely? I'm not trying to prove a case for having clean URLs - I'm very willing to be explained to why they aren't a good idea, but that point could still be addressed by appropriate permissions. Aug 1, 2012 at 9:06
  • +1 on your answer for the tip on shortened URLs. Though the answer says it's never going to be available or no-one would want it your answer doesn't explain why. Aug 1, 2012 at 9:07

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