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Dec
2020

Google Drive – Remove Option Grayed Out

I have a lot of clients share files with me, and after the job is done, I tend to remove them from my Google Drive to keep it organized. I recently ran into a file that I couldn’t remove – the option was grayed out:

Seemingly impossible to delete, the “Remove” option with the trash can next to it is grayed out. Clicking it does nothing. Similarly, when the same file was shared with a Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) account, I saw a “Move to Trash” instead of a “Remove” option, but it too was grayed out:

I’ll cut right to the chase: to get rid of it, drag it to the trash can. Seriously. The right-click menu option with the trash can symbol can’t be clicked, but dragging the file over to the trash can works just fine.

The issue appears to be that this file is not just any shared file. A normal shared file is created by a user in their My Drive section, then shared. If instead a user were to create a Shared Drive, then create a file within that shared drive and share only the file with you (and not the Shared Drive itself), that file will show up for you pretty much like a normal file, with two differences. The first difference is that to the right of the file name, you can see a small Shared Drives icon, indicating that the file resides in a Shared Drive (whether you have access to it or not). The second difference is the one described by this article: you can’t right-click and hit Remove or Move to Trash for some reason.

For reference, after a number of frustrating searches, I found this answer on StackExchange. It’s not the accepted answer, which says to right click the file and click “Remove”, which didn’t work for me, as evidenced in the video above. Instead, this deceptively simple 4th answer by an anonymous user who never answered anything again just “Just drag it physically to bin file.” I can’t believe I didn’t try that, but in fairness, the perfectly good right-click menu option with the trash can was grayed out, so I assumed it was impossible. Another option I tried from a different answer was to edit the sharing options and remove myself as a collaborator, but that didn’t remove it from my Google Drive either.

Two important notes – although it looks like you’re deleting the file, and Google doesn’t provide its standard message that other users with whom the file is shared can still see it, in my experiments the original user still has their file just fine and receives no notifications that you’ve deleted it on your end. Second, when deleting files, normally there’s an “Undo” option for a few seconds after the file is deleted, and furthermore after that the file is in the Trash folder and can be restored. I tried to hit the Undo button, but it did not bring the file back, and it never appeared in my trash bin. Only delete the file if you’re sure you want it gone!

2 Comments

    THANK YOU!!!!!

    I’m trying to right click and drag the file to trash from google docs and it won’t drag. I’m trying to delete files “not owned by me” with the “remove” and “trash” grayed out.
    Thank you
    Laura

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