Google Cloud Apps Admins

Managing Files in Google Drive

Written by Joey Allen (Google Admin) | September 29, 2013

Once you've got Google Drive Setup you are ready to Add files and folders.  This post explains the different ways you can add, upload and synchronize your files.  It also provides information on previewing files and getting more information (meta data) on a file that's in Google Drive.


Add files and folders to Drive

When you’re ready to create new documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, just click the red Create button and select an app from the list to get started.

Using Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to learn more about using these Google productivity apps.

Do you have existing files and folders you want to add to Google Drive? You can easily sync or upload those files to add them to Google Drive on the web and your mobile devices. Here’s how it works:

Add files to Google Drive using sync

If you or your administrator has installed Google Drive for Mac/PC, anything you add to the Google Drive folder on your computer will automatically sync to My Drive on the web and your mobile devices. So all you need to do is move or save files to the Google Drive folder. For example:

  1. In Microsoft Word, save your document to the Google Drive folder:

    That’s it! Now you can access your Word document in Google Drive on the web and your mobile devices:

Upload files and folders to Google Drive

It’s also easy to upload existing files and folders to Google Drive on the web. Here’s how to upload a file (folders work the same way):

  1. In Google Drive on the web, click the red Upload button and then select Files:

  2. Select the file (or files) you want to upload and click Open. Here’s how it might look on Windows:

    That’s all you need to do. As soon as the upload completes, you’ll see the file in
    My Drive:

Preview or learn about a file

So far we’ve seen how files look in Google Drive using the default List mode. This is the most compact way to view your files. If you’d prefer to see a preview of each file in Google Drive, click the Switch to Grid icon in the upper-right of Google Drive on the web:

Now your files are displayed in a grid of thumbnail previews. This can help you locate a file without having to open each one. You can also select files and folders to make changes.

To return to the List mode, click the
Switch to List icon:

However, if you like to work in List mode and want to see a visual preview of a file, you can do that too!

  1. In List mode, select a single file, folder, or Google document.

  2. Click the Preview icon that appears when only one item is selected:

    Your file or document is displayed as an overlay:

  3. In Preview mode, you can:

    1. Scroll through your displayed document

    2. Preview the previous  or next  document in your Drive

    3. Select another document from your Drive to preview by clicking View all

    4. Share your document with others

    5. Print your document

    6. Open your document to edit it

    7. Exit the preview by click the X

Sort your files

If you have a lot of files, it can get harder to keep track of them. One way to make your files easier to find is to sort them. Click the Sort menu to see your options:

The sort options above are available in most Google Drive views. However, the
Activity view is automatically sorted in the order of when things were last modified, so you won’t see the Sort menu there. In the Recent view you can sort items by when you last opened or edited them.

Here are a few sorting tips:

  • Sort by Last modified to see items that were recently modified by anyone (not just you). This might help you keep track of things that your collaborators have recently changed.

  • Use Last opened by me to find things you’ve recently opened, regardless of whether you’ve edited them. This is a great way to get back to items you were recently looking at if you accidentally closed a tab in your browser or you didn’t bookmark something.

  • Sort by Title if you know the name of something and want to scan an alphabetical list to find it. This puts all folders first in My Drive and Shared with me, so it’s also a good way to find folders.

  • Sort by Quota used to see which files are taking up the most space. To free up storage space, you can delete files by moving them to the Trash, but don’t forget to permanently delete them from the Trash view if you need more storage space.

    Note that only synced or uploaded files take up storage space. Files shared with you and Google documents (such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides) don't take up any of your storage space. Items that don't count toward your storage will show as "---" in Google Drive:

    Tip: Do you need extra storage? You can purchase additional storage, but check with your system administrator first. Your organization might do that for you!

Find a file

Type a word or phrase in Drive’s search box to find a specific file, folder, or Google document. As you’re typing, Drive will try to predict what you are looking for and give you a list to choose from.

Narrow your search results

  1. In the search box, click the down arrow to see advanced search options:

  2. Click any search option to narrow your search.

    You can repeat steps 1 and 2 multiple times to further filter your results. For example, maybe you know the file you want is a spreadsheet that you don’t own. Click those options and your search box will look like this:

    Tip: Click the x on an option to remove that filter, or click the big X on the right to clear the entire search.

  3. At this point you might already see what you’re looking for. If not, type a search query and click the blue search button.

Tip: If you want to search articles that are shared with your domain, click Search <your domain> instead of the blue Search button. This is a good way to find a document that is public to your organization, but hasn’t been shared with you directly.

Organize your files

You probably have a lot of files in My Drive, or will soon. Use folders to organize the contents, just like you do on your computer.

Create a folder in Google Drive on the web

  1. Click the red Create button and then select Folder:

  2. Enter a name for the folder and click OK. Your new folder is created in My Drive:

Tip: If you’re displaying My Drive, (or a folder within My Drive), you can also click the New folder icon to create a folder in your current location:

Move files to a folder

  1. Check the box by the item (or items) you want to move.

  2. Click the icon that looks like a folder:

  3. In the Move to dialog, select the folder where you’d like to move your items, or create a new folder for them.

Tip: Do you want to store your file (or files) in multiple folders? Use the Ctrl or Command key to check all the places where you want to find your items.

  1. Click Move.

Share a folder

You can share a folder, just as easily as you share your Google documents.

  1. Check the box next to the file or folder you'd like to share.

  2. Click Share  and add the people or Groups you’d like to share the folder with.

Once the folder is shared with others, it will have a person icon  on it.