If you use Google Docs (or Sheets, or Slides) you may have noticed a recent pop-up letting you know that "Editors can now see view history". Without any context, the message is a little confusing - even disconcerting if you're the paranoid type - but there's nothing to be worried about. Here's what you need to know about the latest feature coming to Google Drive.
Photo: Flickr/Kristina Alexanderson
— Eric Umansky (@ericuman) April 11, 2018
View History essentially expands a Google Drive feature you're probably already familiar with: Track changes. While before you could see every time someone made an edit or left a comment on a shared document, now you'll know every time they look at the file. The new option will be accessible through an "Activity Dashboard" where you can see who's viewed each file and when.
There are a few situations where the new Activity Dashboard could be particularly useful. Say you're working on a project with a few other people. You'll know who's seen your latest updates, and if someone still needs to see them you can let them know. You could also tailor a presentation to your boss or a potential client based on whether they have actually looked at that document you sent over.
On the other hand, if you're uncomfortable with your boss or co-workers snooping on your activity, Google also makes it easy to switch off the new feature. To revoke View History for a single file, just open the document, click on Tools, and select "Activity Dashboard privacy". Then switch off "Show my history for this document".
If you'd rather kill the feature entirely, launch Docs, Sheets or Slides on your computer and open Settings. Then find the Activity Dashboard and toggle off "Show your view history".
If you don't see these options, it probably means Google hasn't activated View History yet for your account. The company says the feature won't actually go live until after you've seen the pop-up, which started gradually rolling out to the public late last month. So until the update hits your account there's nothing to worry about.