Here’s everything about seeing when someone opens a Google form:
No, a survey manager or creator cannot see when a user opens a Google Form.
Depending on the settings, they have the option to see who filled out a form that has been submitted, but until the submit button is pressed, no data is forwarded to the form’s creator.
This is by design, and Google offers no workarounds.
So if you want to learn all about how Google Forms’ privacy settings work, then this article is for you.
Let’s jump right in!
How Do Google Forms Work? (3 Ways)
Google Forms are designed to allow a single person to collect response data from a group of other users.
The size of the group can be anywhere from a handful of people to millions of respondents.
Google Forms can handle it all.
Since the service appeals to such a wide range of users (there are countless reasons to create a survey), it offers a pretty good variety in how it is used.
Depending on how you create your form, you can closely marry user data to each survey.
Or, you can make the survey very anonymous and have no idea who sent what.
You can aim for anything in between the extremes too.
But, no matter how closely you try to track survey responses and users, you will never know when someone opens the form.
That option does not exist.
Instead, tracking options are primarily tied to survey responses, as in you can’t see anything unless they fill out the survey.
#1 Google Forms’ Settings
Google Form tracking is mostly determined by the settings.
These settings primarily pertain to submissions (more on that later), but it helps paint a picture to see what kinds of options are available.
When you create a new form, there are three tabs at the top: Questions, Responses, and Settings.
When you go into Settings, you can select an additional option that is also called “Responses.”
In this part of the menu, you can choose to “collect email addresses.”
This marries an email address to each form to make it easier to see who submitted what and whether or not a single person is responding multiple times.
You can also adjust the mandatory fields in the survey itself.
Using this, you can make it so that it is impossible to submit a form unless each mandatory field has an answer.
If you include contact information as part of those mandatory fields, then you are collecting personal information to marry to the survey as well.
#2 Viewing Versus Submitting on Google Forms
This is really the crux of the whole thing.
Google makes clear distinctions between activities that might fall under the umbrella of “viewing” a form as compared to “submitting” a form.
If you open up a form, look at it, and then close it without filling anything out, that counts only as viewing.
If you actually do fill out some of the questions, but you never hit a “submit” button anywhere, that still counts as viewing.
It only counts as submitting when you hit the button.
That’s when Google sends information to whoever is managing the form.
Any activity that is done before that is completely anonymous, and the form manager (or creator) has no way to know what you are doing when viewing their form.
They don’t even know that the form has been viewed.
The idea here is battery autonomy and less pressure when filling out the form.
Since many of these forms are used to collect important data, removing a watchful presence while people fill out the information is considered useful by many.
So, when it comes to submitting the form, you have to press a submit button before anything goes to the form’s creator.
That said, form submission can be handled in a couple of ways.
You can make a multi-part form where there are different sections.
Each section might have its own submit button.
So, when you submit one section, the creator is informed, but they still can’t see what you’re doing in the next section.
There is no active monitoring.
If you’re filling out a form with only one submit button, it’s just that much easier.
Anything done before you hit submit is anonymous and untracked.
The information that you submit is tracked, and anonymity depends on how the form was created.
#3 Google Forms’ Submission Options
That brings us to another important point.
Once you do submit a form, what can the form’s creator see?
That depends on the options selected when the form was made.
Forms can be made with high levels of anonymity.
It’s possible to create a form where you don’t track anything but the answers.
You don’t know who filled it out.
You don’t even have a way to determine if one person is filling out multiple forms.
It’s left completely untracked like that.
But, you do still get to see the answers, and there is a notification when a form is submitted.
You can also add more tracking information to the form.
You can require people to fill out their name, address, and/or other contact information.
Obviously, this reduces (if not completely removes) the idea of anonymity, but for some forms, that’s important.
Naturally, you can’t guarantee that people fill out contact sections honestly, so tracking does have its limitations.
Perhaps the most powerful way of keeping track of senders is with email requirements.
You can require a unique email address for each form sent.
Even if you don’t know exactly who owns the email address, there is some amount of accountability or tracking related to each form completed.
How Do You Manage the Participants of a Google Form?
When the form has been created, you can send it to people to ask for their participation.
Typically, this is done via email, but you can also link it to social media resources like Facebook or Twitter.
This allows you to reach a wider audience and get more responses, assuming that’s an important goal.
Keep in mind that even if you only send the form to selected participants, it doesn’t increase your ability to see who is interacting with the form.
If you require email tracking and you know who owns each email address involved, then you will know who filled out each form.
But, this process still does not let you see any activity that takes place before the information is submitted by a participant.
It’s also important to remember this.
If anonymity is important to the survey, then you should remove email tracking from the form, especially if only the participants are invited directly via email.