“When it comes to needing an easy way to share a document with someone, Google is still the standard choice for me and most people I work with. The fact that they were always a web-first platform has given them a head start in the interface and syncing technology.”
That’s exactly why I continue to use it: free, web-based (which means nearly ubiquitous access to your files), easy and accessible.
But just like any tool, your Google Drive can become disorganized.
Here, I’ll describe some best practices you can adopt to organize the files you’ve got stored in Google Drive. Let’s begin with something simple: sorting.
Once you’ve got a lot of files on your Drive, it can be tricky to find the one you’re looking for. Fortunately, you can quickly sort the list. First, click the button on the top right to toggle between List View and Grid View. Both sort folders from files, and list view lets your further sort by title or creation date.
Powerful search tools
Google is synonymous with “search” (how many times have you heard someone say, “Google it”?), and as such you’d expect robust search options in its products, like Drive. A simple click reveals that they are in place.
To begin, simply click the search field to perform a search by type: PDF, text, spreadsheet, presentations, photos & images and videos. That’s helpful, but it’s just the start. Click “More search tools” (or the disclosure triangle at the right of the search field) to access a slew of useful features. From there, you can search by:
- File type
- Words found in the body of the document
- The owner (if you’re sharing files with a collaborator)
- Who it’s shared with
- What folder it’s in
- Any “follow up” actions — again, if you’re collaborating
All of this makes it very easy to find the file you need.
Select many files at once
Occasionally you’ll want to move, share or otherwise interact with several files at once. You could click them one at a time, or hold down Shift as you click to select in bulk. This tiny tip can be a huge time-saver.
Look to the stars
You can add a star to any file or folder in Google Drive by right-clicking on it and then selecting the star from the resulting contextual menu. All starred items are immediately accessible from the star menu in the left toolbar. Just don’t go too crazy with this feature, or you’ll have a list of starred items that just as unwieldy as the “un-starred” masses!
You can quickly preview a document without opening it to save a lot of time. Simply click once to select it, and then hit the “eye” icon that appears in the toolbar above to get a peek at what that document contains.
Finally, consider the huge library of add-ons that are constantly being released and refined for Google Drive users. These easily-installed tidbits address all aspects of using the service, with the focus on making it more efficient. PC World recently published a nice round-up of great Google Drive add-ons, including Consistency Checker, which scans your docs for incorrect hyphens and other such errors, as well as Data Everywhere, which makes it easy to share across platforms (Google, Excel, etc.).
I hope this was helpful. As I said, Google Drive is a fantastic collaboration tool. With a little effort, you can make it an efficient, organized experience as well.