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Q: How can I use a Google sharing link with my personal Google account?

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Background (please read)

Google users at MIT can choose whether to use personal Google Docs, or Google Docs at the mit.edu Google Apps domain for sharing documents with friends and colleagues. Unfortunately Google only allows an email address to be associated with one Google account, either personal or apps. Many prefer to use their personal Google accounts, but Google always formats the "sharing" link it sends out to point to the apps domain.

When someone shares a Google Doc with an email address at a domain for which a Google Apps site exists, the sharing link Google sends you will link the the login screen for Google Apps for the domain, whether or not you are actively using your account for that Google Apps domain. This can be a little confusing, especially if you would prefer to collaborate or share using your personal Google account, rather than a domain account for Google Apps for mit.edu.

The Google document sharing messages look like this:
Google document sharing message

Workaround 1: Ask the sender to share with your personal account

This is the simplest workaround. Ask your friend or colleague to share the document with your personal Google account instead – usually an account name that ends in @gmail.com. You will get another sharing notification with a link to log into your personal Google account.

The drawback of this approach, of course, is the extra step for your colleague to go through and that you need to share your personal Gmail address rather than just your MIT address with them.

Workaround 2: Edit the sharing link

This workaround is fairly straightforward and does not require you to request a sharing invitation to your personal Google account.

  1. Open the email message you received from Google notifying you of the shared document.
  2. Right-Click (or CTRL-Click on a Mac) on the sharing link and select Copy Link from the menu that pops up. The exact label may be slightly different depending on the email program you use.
  3. Go to your web browser and click on the location bar where you normally type in URLs or web site names
  4. Paste the link you just copied (CTRL-v on Windows/Linux or COMMAND-v on a Mac)
  5. Before you hit enter, edit the link as follows:
  6. Hit enter to go to the edited link; you'll be taken to the normal Google sign-in page where you can enter your personal Google username and password to share the document

Workaround 3: Sign up for Google Apps for mit.edu

This isn't really a workaround. You can sign up for Google Apps for mit.edu. You will be able to sign into Google Apps at www.google.com/a/mit.edu with your MIT email address and a new password, to share documents with friends and colleagues. This account will be separate from your personal Google account. Note that your login email address can only be associated with one Google account, so if you have your mit.edu email address set as an alternate or primary address for a personal Google account, that will be superseded by your Google Apps for mit.edu account.

To sign up for a Google Apps for mit.edu account, please send a request to: google-help@mit.edu from your MIT email address. We will create your Google Apps for mit.edu account. You'll receive an email message with a temporary password you can use to sign in at www.google.com/a/mit.edu where you will be prompted to choose a permanent password.

See also

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members


Last Modified:

May 05, 2016

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