Google Drive

Google Drive is the filing cabinet of Google Apps. You can also create content right from inside it.

This page will give you strategies for organizing your Drive, finding documents within it, sorting files, and sharing documents.

Structure of Google Drive:

  • + New > Create new Google Docs of all kinds; upload files

  • DriveMy Drive - all your files

  • Computers > My Computer > Google Backups (if you sync back-ups)

  • Shared with me > files that others own but have given you access

  • Recent > most recently created or edited files, for quicker retrieval

  • ⭐ Starred > you can choose to star files that are important for quicker retrieval

  • Bin > Trash - you'll have to click Bin at the top, then Empty Bin to finalize removal of documents

Tips for organizing Google Drive


  1. Create a system of folders. Go to New > Folder. Name your folder. Start with top level folders, e.g. School, Personal, Financial. Within those folders, create sub-folders, such as for school you could have each class, school admin, etc. Also, create a separate folder for each school year for new classes.

  2. Add details. Use the (i) icon at the top to add information (a description) of the file. These are searchable.

  3. Standardize your names. Use consistent naming conventions. It might be helpful to include file name and date as part of the name. If you use unit numbers, you can include those. Use the Preview tip (#9) to check files that are called Untitled and delete them if they are empty or no longer wanted.

  4. Number your folders. To number, click once on the folder name, then add a number at the front. (Or right-click>Rename). Add an emoji for a visual cue. While renaming, right-click on the name bar and select Emoji. Start typing a word to find a related emoji or select something applicable.

  5. Colour-code your folder. Right-click on the folder and choose Change Colour. Select a colour.

  6. Click on star to identify important folders or files. Right-click > Add to Starred. Remove the star by right-clicking and choosing Remove from Starred.

  7. Choose the view that works best for you. I prefer the list view when organizing, but you might prefer the grid. Icons are up near the top right of the screen, beside the i (information) icon.

  8. Sort your folders and files. Go to List mode (see #7). Choose a sort option by clicking on headings at the top of the list: Name, Owner, Last modified by me, or File size.


  1. Preview contents of a file without opening it. Click on the name, then P. You can also right-click>Preview.

  2. Move your files into folders by clicking and holding on a file, then drag and drop to the correct place. You can drag and drop multiple files by using Ctrl + Click to select multiple files, then drag and drop. Or to select a list in consecutive order, click on the first one, then Shift + Click on the last one and drag and drop. You can also select a file, right-click > Move to > select location.

Folders in My Drive, organized by colour, numbers and emojis.

Share with Me

These are files owned by others.

If someone has shared a file with you, it will appear here. While you can't organize this section, there are ways you can add or link them to your My Drive, which can be organized.

Create a shortcut:

  1. Go to the shared document.

  2. Right-click.

  3. Select > Add a Shortcut to Drive.

This keeps the shared file but adds a bookmark on your drive, which you can store in one of your folders. Remember that you are not making a copy, it's just giving you access to store it in your own Drive.

Make your own Copy:

  1. Open the document.

  2. Click File > Make a copy.

You now have your own version, in your own My Drive. You can move it to the appropriate folder.

I suggest adding the original owner's name to the new document, which you now own. The downside is, if the original owner makes modifications to their document, you won't see them unless you go back to the original one. (You can also right-click on the document and choose Make a copy).

Download the Document:

Right-click and choose Download to download the document. Google Drawings will download as .jpgs. Google Docs will download as Word files (if you have Microsoft Word). Google Slides will download as PowerPoints. Google Sheets will download as Excel files.

Sorting your Drive

In the list view, click on a column heading to sort. You can sort by Name, Owner, Last modified date, and File Size.

Searching Drive

Click in the Search in Drive box at the top of My Drive to locate files, if you know part of the name.

If you can't find a file, use Advanced Search. Click the drop-down arrow at the right-side of the search bar. Add any other information that you know about the document, then click search. This is particularly useful if you know the filetype, such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides (Presentations), etc.

Sharing Files from Drive

IMPORTANT: Select a file (not a folder). The file can be inside a folder, or loose.

1 Link icon – get shareable link.

Note that if it says restricted, you may have to click the arrow beside Restricted to change it to “Anyone with the link” and then pick Viewer/Commenter/Editor.

2 Add Person Icon

Takes you to the same menu as above, but the top part.

To Share with a specific person, click Share with people and groups, then add an email (and optional message).

Delete Files

Google calls this "Remove" but basically it moves files you click on and select for removal to the Bin (at the left). You still have to click on Bin to finish deleting a file.

Taking Files from a School Account to a Personal One

If you've been saving files to your school's Google Drive, what happens when you leave that school? One options is to use Google Takeout. You can read some information here:

Another is to put all your files into one folder and share the folder. Then when you open on your personal drive, you can make a copy of the folder. Here's how to copy folders:


Google Drive Basics: A Tour of your Drive

Google Drive Basics: Managing Files & Folders

Google Drive Basics: Working with Others

Color Code and Organize your Google Drive

How to convert physical notes in Google Drive

How to Restore Files from Trash Folder