If you’ve spent anytime in a shared Google document of any kind then you’ve probably seen something like this:
and wondered what those strange images were next to the ‘Share’ button.
Google calls these ‘anonymous animals’. If you haven’t seen them before, then click on this link to see some in action!
What you need for this article
– Tools: Access to a shared Google Doc – like this one
– Time: 5 minutes reading time
What you will learn
- Why Anonymous animals appear in a shared document
- A list of Anonymous animals
- How to show up as an anonymous animal in a shared document
Why Anonymous animals appear in a shared document
Anonymous animals is the term given to certain types of people when they view your shared Google document – this can be a word document, a spreadsheet or a presentation.
Someone will appear as an Anonymous animal if:
- they’re using a general link to access the document. This link may have been sent via an email list or shared on a website.
- they have been invited by name to view a file but haven’t signed into their Google account before opening the link.
- you are using G Suite and the person you’ve sent the link to is outside of your domain.
However, if you invite someone by name to view a file, and they are signed into their Google Account then their Google profile picture will appear rather than an anonymous animal:
You of course will always appear as yourself as you are the owner of the file.
A list of Anonymous animals
There doesn’t appear to be an official list of Anonymous animals but some very smart people around the web have spent some time putting together various lists. The below list comes curtesy of a Quroa response by Alon Amit and is current as of Feb 18. If you’ve seen other animals then please let me know in the comments so I can update this list:
Alligator, anteater, armadillo, auroch, axolotl, badger, bat, beaver, buffalo, camel, chameleon, cheetah, chipmunk, chinchilla, chupacabra, cormorant, coyote, crow, dingo, dinosaur, dog, dolphin, dragon, duck, dumbo octopus, elephant, ferret, fox, frog, giraffe, goose, gopher, grizzly, hamster, hedgehog, hippo, hyena, jackal, ibex, ifrit, iguana, kangaroo, koala, kraken, lemur, leopard, liger, lion, llama, manatee, mink, monkey, moose, narwhal, nyan cat, orangutan, otter, panda, penguin, platypus, python, quagga, rabbit, raccoon, rhino, sheep, shrew, skunk, slow loris, squirrel, tiger, turtle, unicorn, walrus, wolf, wolverine, wombat.
Looks like Google had a bit of fun putting the list together as some of these aren’t actually real animals – ‘nyan cat’ is a Internet meme whilst krakens, ifrits and unicorns are all supernatural creatures.
How to show up as an anonymous animal in a shared document
During my research for this article I was hoping to find a way to choose a particular anonymous animal – I quite like the idea of being a kraken – but sadly there doesn’t appear to be a way.
There also doesn’t appear to be a way to suggest animals – because why is there a dog and not a cat?
However if someone has individually invited you to view a document then you can choose whether you appear as an anonymous animal or not:
- Copy the link they’ve sent you
- Open an incognito or private window in your browser
- Paste the link into the browser tab.
You’ll now show up as an anonymous animal to anyone else viewing the document.
The downside of this is you won’t be able to make any changes to the document or chat with anyone else, whilst you are anonymous.