In 2019, Google started testing a review and approval system for Docs, Sheets, and Slides. After the two-year beta period, “formal document approvals” are now rolling out to Workspace users.

Once available, opening the “File” menu reveals a new “Approvals” option that opens a right sidebar. Making a request involves entering a list of approvers, custom message, and optional due date that will be accompanied by reminders. The people you select will get email, browser, or Google Chat notifications with a link to the document. 

By default, documents remain unlocked until they are fully approved, but users can prevent editing and comments/suggestions before sending the request. When edits are made, “all reviewers are notified and the latest version of the document is re-approved.” 

A document is considered approved when everyone signs off. At that point, the file locks and cannot be edited to “secur[e] the integrity of your document.”

If an edit is made during the approval process, all reviewers will need to re-approve the latest version of the file and will receive email notifications in those instances. The document approval request is rejected for all reviewers if a single reviewer rejects the file. 

Google Docs approval system

Google built this system in Docs/Sheets/Slides to replace workflows that involve manually attaching Drive documents to an email or chat for approval. The entire process can occur “without leaving the secure environment of Google Workspace,” with the company pitching this capability for contracts, legal documents, and “other situations where formal approval is required.”

Securing document approvals can be difficult when collaborating with multiple stakeholders and competing priorities. This feature makes it easy to secure those approvals and see who has approved them.

This feature will be enabled by default and is rolling out over the coming weeks to the following Workspace tiers:

Google Workspace Essentials, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, and Nonprofits, as well as G Suite Business, G Suite Enterprise, Drive Enterprise, G Suite for Education, G Suite Enterprise for Education, and G Suite for Nonprofits

It’s not available for personal Google Accounts or:

Workspace Business Starter, Education Fundamentals, Education Standard, Frontline, and G Suite Basic.

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Google Docs rolling out file review & approval system to Workspace tiers
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