Many people take Google Drive for granted. You store files there and go get them when you need them. But there’s more to Google Drive than meets the eye. Here are some of those useful features you may have missed.
Find Files With the Advanced Search
The more files you upload to Google Drive, the more you have to look through when you need one. Luckily, you have advanced search options that make the task easier.
RELATED: How to Quickly Search Google Drive
Enter a keyword or phrase into the Search in 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’ll see many options you can use to find your file. Choose the file type or owner, use keywords within the file or file name, pick 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 which folder a file is in, you can also perform a search directly in a Google Drive folder.
Link Directly to Files
Another handy Google Drive feature is obtaining 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 where 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 only allow access to those you share with or “Anyone With Link” to let anyone who clicks the link open the file.
Work With Microsoft Office Files
You don’t have to own Microsoft Office to work with Office files if you have Google Drive. You might 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.
RELATED: How to Download Files and Folders From Google Drive
Additionally, 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 either double-click or right-click, move to Open With, and pick from Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
When the file opens in the corresponding app, you’ll see the file format retained at the top. Your changes save automatically, 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. Move to Download and choose the format in the pop-out menu.
Manage File Versions
Similar to obtaining 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’ll then see a pop-up window with each version of the file, including the current version.
As you can see at the top of the window, older versions may be deleted after 30 days or 100 stored versions. If you want to avoid losing a previous version, click the three dots to the right of it and choose “Keep Forever.”
If you have a newer version saved to 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 the activity and details for a file might be exactly what you need to do. Additionally, you can take advantage of the descriptions in Google Drive to add your own details.
RELATED: How to Change the Owner of a File in Google Drive
Open the details sidebar one of these ways:
- Right-click the file and select “View Details.”
- Select the file and click the View Details icon (small letter “i”) on the top right.
- Select the file, click the three dots at the top, and choose “View Details.”
You’ll 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 into the Description box at the bottom and hit 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 for yourself or collaborators.
Open the file in Preview mode. You can do this by selecting the file and clicking the Preview icon (eye) at the top or right-clicking and choosing “Preview.”
Select the portion of the file you want to comment on and then select the Comment icon on the right or at the top.
Type your comment in the box that appears and click “Comment.”
Notice you can use the @ (At) symbol to mention a collaborator if you like. 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 Camera
If you use the Google Drive mobile app, you have an additional feature that can make uploads easy. You can use your device camera to capture a file or other item and upload it as a PDF (Android) or an 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, select “Scan.”
Tap the shutter button to scan the item and then use the checkmark to save it. You can pick the trash can icon to recapture the scan if necessary. Select “Save.”
Choose the location to save it within Google Drive and then tap “Save” again. You’ll then see your scanned file as a PDF.
Open the iPhone Google Drive app and tap the plus sign to upload a file. Then, select “Use Camera.”
Tap the shutter button to capture the image select tap “Use Photo” to upload it. You can also pick “Retake” to recapture the shot if needed.
After a few moments, you’ll see your image in Google Drive.
Sometimes features are obvious, especially if they’re ones you use often. But then there are others you don’t realize exist and would find super helpful. Hopefully at least one of these Google Drive features is useful to you.