How often do you stare confused and overwhelmed by all the documents you have strewn about in your Google Drive? Never? That’s impressive. For everyone else though, in the lynda.com tutorial discussed in this post about Google Drive Essential Training, specifically the third chapter – Organizing and Searching Google Drive, I will give you tips and tricks to make your life more simple, and who doesn’t want that.
I personally like to have all of my documents filed away and easily retrievable. When
watching the first Lynda video on how to “create folders and sub-folders”, my inner neat-freak came out. In Google Drive you can create folders and sub-folders just like you can on your computer, and share them or just keep them private. Just as with your e-mail, Google Drive allows you to move documents by selecting them and dropping them into folders; as seen in the image on the right. When designing Google Drive the creators really tried to make it very similar to how people use folders on their computers, in the sense that there can be folders within folders, and what really caught my eye was that you can navigate through folders and sub-folders without having to actually open them. Simply by clicking on the little triangle beside the master folder you can see all the sub-folders that it contains, as seen in the image below.
Awesome, now we have the basics down, that’s all there is to organizing my Google Drive, right? No. Have you ever searched for something but it got lost in the masses? Because let’s face it, you neglect to use folders and who knows what you named that document as. In Google Drive you can actually sort the list to show you documents and folders that were “Last Edited by Me”, or “Title” or even “Quota Used” (as seen in the image to the right) – so as long as you know something about the document, you should be able to find it again.
Being able to toggle through when you last edited something, opened it or modified it is great, but what if you just want to look through all of your documents to see everything you have in your Drive? The standard view is “comfortable”, and this means that the list of documents isn’t squished together. However, you can squeeze them even closer together with the other two settings “cozy” and “compact”. The difference between them is how many documents appear on the screen, and
the further down the list you go, the more squished it becomes. As you see in the image to the right, the screenshot on the top is of the comfortable setting, and the one on the bottom is of the compact setting.
Though I have grown accustomed to the list view in Google Drive, they also offer to view your documents as you would in an icon format. This option is really neat because it is a much simpler way of navigating through documents and folders. So, pick either one, both are useful and have their own pros and cons, but the main purpose of having so many options in how you organize and search your Google Drive is to make it more you. To get a more in depth understanding of changing the view and sort order, check out the second video in chapter 3 of Organizing and Searching Google Drive.
You may have noticed, once or twice, that on the navigation bar on the left there are different ways to access files. There are links to folders such as My Drive, and Shared with Me, which are folders that we frequent often, but there are also links to folders such as Activity, and Recent which are probably less used. These folders are extremely useful and can be amazing ways to find documents that you’ve recently opened or edited. You should go through and explore what default folders they give you. There are also help links that Google provides when you enter those folders, because they know that only the brave and the worthy venture through those waters.
Filtering through documents can be comparable to sifting through sand to find that one seashell you thought looked pretty – time consuming and only worth it if you find it. That is why Google Drive presents to you, their amazing new way of finding documents in your Google Drive that pertain to a set of parameters that you choose. Basically, the way we use tags to relate posts to each other to make them easier to find, uses the same logic that Google Drive uses with the “Owner, Type, More” function to find documents and folders. And just like tags, you can tack on multiple search options, for example, I could look for all “Spreadsheets” that are “not owned by me”. Go check out more in the video titled “Using filters to find your files”.
Now, for my personal favorite- color coding. The main function of this is to make things look pretty, but you may also have a system to how you code things. By either right clicking or using the little triangle (pointed out earlier) you can skim the options until you find change color, and from there you can pick whatever you please. Fun fact, though, if you have a folder containing sub-folders, the main folder’s color will change, but the sub-folders will not.
All folders should have names, and those names should have some meaning to them, but if for some reason you messed up and typed in “asdfjrx” as the title you can still change the name of that folder. Just like you would change something in your personal documents, you can right click and go to “rename”, and name it something with meaning, for example “CIS 220 is my favorite class”. However, once you do this, that folder will now change positions on your navigation bar, because that is set up alphabetically, and since “CIS” comes after “asdfjrx” it will jump down to after whatever folder is in between A and C. If you instead chose to delete “asdfjrx”, all the documents that you created in that folder would go to the trash, however, all of the shared files would simply move to the Shared with Me folder.
Lastly, using stars has always been a foreign concept to me, but Lynda.com really explained what starring could be used for in Google Drive. If you’re working on a project and you wish to use multiple documents from different folders you could simply star all of the important documents and essentially create a new folder that you won’t have to delete and won’t have to name. Starring a file or folder is almost like creating a personalized folder of items you wish to work with or think are important for future reference and don’t wish to search for them individually. The way it is explained in the video “Using stars to group files” has gotten me hooked.
Despite most of what has been said above being common sense, a lot of what is mentioned is tips to help you customize your Google Drive so that you use it as your computer storage away from your computer. What are some ways that you guys organize your Google Drive? Is it a mess with documents everywhere and crazy names, or do you have a system? Let me know in the comments.