How to Find Files on Google Drive & More Tips to Get You Started

by Denise Hazime on May 19, 2016

Google Apps for Work is billed as very easy to learn – and for the most part it is. But people used to navigating through a legacy Microsoft environment to find files will be initially mystified by how Google Drive organizes files. It’s much easier to use once you get the hang of it, and these tips will help you make the most of using Google Drive.

Important: Always Start with the Search Box

Windows users typically avoided the search box like the plague, because put quite simply, it didn’t work. Well, it may have worked but it didn’t work quickly or efficiently – not like the search box in Google Drive. This is why Google Drive places the search box as the first thing on the screen - instead of clicking through folders and subfolders, you enter the name or a term in your file and your file will appear instantly.

If you want to make it even easier, download and install the “Quick Search for Google Drive” extension which will allow you to type your searches into your browser address bar, completely eliminating the need to visit drive.google.com first. You’ll need to be logged in to the appropriate account for Google Apps for Work in your Chrome instance before using it. Once you start searching instead of clicking, you’ll be maximizing your productivity by getting the files you need faster. Google, being the largest search engine in the world, puts search at the core of Google Drive for one reason – it is far easier than the endless clicking you used to do to get to a file.

“Star” Important Files to Get Easy Access

While you can bookmark files, “starring” them lets you access them quickly from the left-hand sidebar. The process is simple – right click on the file you want to “star” and you will be able to “star” it from this menu:

Finding “Shared With Me” Tough to Navigate? Switch to List View

If you are working in a larger organization with a number of files, clicking on the “Shared With Me” tab on the left sidebar can feel overwhelming. Tame it by switching it to a list view on the far top right just under your profile picture.

Click on the “list” button and you will instantly tame all of those giant thumbnails into one easy-to-navigate list. Plus, you’ll be able to sort by share date, bringing all of the newest items to the top.

Don’t Panic! You Can Still Create Folders

Of course to organize your files, you are still going to want folders. Google Drive gives you all the same functionality you would expect for a file system, with the ability to create, delete and manage folders. However, with Google Drive, it’s much easier to share your folders with other users – just copy the link to the folder and send it to someone to share it with them. If you want it to appear on their “Shared With Me” list, make sure to enter their email and share it with them directly – don’t just send them the link. So there you have it – to “get” Google Drive, all you have to know is that the search box has become your friend. It is no longer the enemy of productivity, it is the creator of it.

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PRODUCT: G Suite by Google Cloud

AUDIENCE: End Users