Many people take Google Drive for granted. You store files there and get them when you need them. But there’s more to Google Drive than meets the eye. Here are some of those useful features that you may have overlooked.
Find files with advanced search
The more files you upload to Google Drive, the more you’ll have to review when you need them. Luckily, you have advanced search options that make your task easier.
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Enter a keyword or phrase in the Search Drive box at the top of the main page. Then click the Show Search Options icon on the right side of the search box.
You will see many options that you can use to find your file. Choose the file type or owner, use keywords within the file or file name, choose the location, select a date modified option, or use one of the other fields you see.
Select “Search” and then view your results. If you know what folder a file is in, you can also search directly in a Google Drive folder.
Link directly to files
Another useful feature of Google Drive is getting a direct link to your file. You can do this without even opening the file. Then save it to your notes for quick access or with a collaborator.
Right-click the file and choose “Get Link.”
You can then choose “Copy Link” to place the link on your clipboard and paste it wherever you like. You can also use this box to share the link by entering your contact’s email address.
At the bottom of the window, use the General Access section to control who can open the file with the link. You can choose “Restricted” to allow access only to those you share with or “Anyone with link” to allow anyone who clicks the link to open the file.
Work with Microsoft Office files
You don’t need to have Microsoft Office to work with Office files if you have Google Drive. You may receive a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file that you need to view or edit. You can open these files in the corresponding Google app, Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
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Plus, you can download Docs, Sheets, and Slides documents in Microsoft Office formats.
To open an Office document, upload it to Google Drive like any other file. Then double-click or right-click, move to Open With, and select Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
When the file is opened in the corresponding application, you will see the retained file format at the top. Your changes are automatically saved, and you can then download the file in its original Office format.
If you have a Docs, Sheets, or Slides file that you want to export and save in the Office format, this is just as easy. Open the document and go to the File tab. Go to Download and choose the format from the popup menu.
Manage file versions
Just like getting a link to your file without opening it, you can manage its versions. This feature works with PDF and Microsoft Office files, as well as images.
Right-click the file and choose “Manage Versions.”
You will then see a popup with each version of the file, including the current version.
As you can see at the top of the window, the old version can be deleted after 30 days or 100 stored versions. If you want to avoid losing a previous version, click the three dots on the right and choose “Keep Forever”.
If you have a newer version saved on your device that you want to use, select “Upload new version.” Then browse for the file and choose “Upload”.
Two more actions you can take are to delete or download any of the versions you see. Use the three dots to the right of the version to choose “Delete” or “Download.”
View a file’s activity, details, and description
While it may seem like such a simple thing, being able to view a file’s activity and details may be exactly what you need to do. Also, you can take advantage of the descriptions in Google Drive to add your own details.
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Open the details sidebar in one of these ways:
- Right-click on the file and select “View details.”
- Select the file and click the View Details icon (lowercase letter “i”) at the top right.
- Select the file, click on the three dots at the top and choose “View details”.
You will then see the sidebar with two tabs for Details and Activity. With Details, you can review the file type, size, owner, date created, and more. With Activity, you’ll see things like when the file was uploaded or when it was edited.
To add a description to the file, use the Details tab in the sidebar. Enter your text in the Description box at the bottom and press Enter or Return. This is a good way to distinguish between files with similar names.
Add comments to files
Another convenient Google Drive feature is the ability to add comments to files. This is useful for notes to yourself or your collaborators.
Open the file in preview mode. You can do this by selecting the file and clicking the Preview (eye) icon at the top or by right-clicking and selecting “Preview”.
Select the part of the file you want to comment on, and then select the Comment icon on the right or top.
Write your comment in the box that appears and click “Comment”.
Note that you can use the @ (At) symbol to mention a collaborator if you wish. As a bonus, you have the ability to assign your comment to that person. Check the Assign to box and click “Assign”.
Upload files with your mobile device’s camera
If you use the Google Drive mobile app, it has an additional feature that can make uploads easier. You can use your device’s camera to capture a file or other item and upload it as a PDF (Android) or image (iPhone).
RELATED: How to upload files and folders to Google Drive
Open the Android Google Drive app and tap the plus sign to upload a file. Then choose “Scan”.
Tap the shutter button to scan the item and then use the check mark to save it. You can choose the trash can icon to recapture the scan if necessary. Select “Save”.
Choose the location to save it to Google Drive and then tap “Save” again. You will then see the scanned file in PDF format.
Open the iPhone Google Drive app and tap the plus sign to upload a file. Then choose “Use Camera.”
Tap the shutter button to capture the image, select tap “Use Photo” to upload it. You can also choose “Retake” to recapture the shot if necessary.
After a few moments, you will see your image in Google Drive.
Sometimes the features are obvious, especially if they’re the ones you use often. But then there are others that you don’t know exist that you would find very useful. Hopefully at least one of these Google Drive features will come in handy.