Organizing Your Google Drive

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Last week I had an opportunity to facilitate a workshop about Google Drive. Even though Google is not new to most of us in Extension, we often struggle with finding documents in Google Drive and keeping it organized. Below are some tips that may help you keep it under control.

Google Drive has two main locations where it stores files:
  1. My Drive is where you will find documents that you create (Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms) or files you upload (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, pdfs, images, videos) into your Drive.
  2. Shared with me is where you will find documents and folders that others have shared with you.
Shared with you, organized by you
For important documents and folders that others have shared with you, right click on the document or folder and choose Add to My Drive. Once your shared documents/folders are in My Drive, you can organize My Drive the way you want. NOTE: Do not move documents out of shared folders. If you do, only you and the document owner will be able to see them.

Color-code your folders
Color-coding folders is an easy way to organize your drive. Right-click your folder and select Change Color. Tip: Use a dark color for your top-level folders and a lighter shade of the same color for sub-folders.

Add a Star to a file or folder
Right-click to add a star to your favorite documents and folders. Starred items provide a way to access files and folders quickly, without having to search. Tip: select a file or folder and type S to add a star

Remove what you no longer need
If you want to remove a file from your Drive, move it to your trash. Your file will stay there until you empty your trash (permanently delete). If you are the owner of the file, others can access it until you permanently delete the file. If you are not the owner, others can see the file even if you empty your trash. Here are a few ways to remove:

  • Select the file or folder and press Delete on your keyboard
  • Right-click on a file or folder and select Remove
  • Drag the file or folder to Trash

List View or Grid View
You can view your Drive in List View or Grid View. Grid view displays a thumbnail preview of your documents. Click the view icon at the top right of your Drive.

Sort your files
Click the sort icon to choose a number of sort options:

Name: Orders files alphabetically by filename.
Last modified: Orders files by the last time any user made a change.
Last modified by me: Orders by the last time you changed a file.
Last opened by me: Orders by the last time you opened a file.


  • Press / to sort by file type (PDF, documents, spreadsheets, photos, etc). This is also helpful when searching.
  • Name folders to control your sort. For example, if you want something at the bottom, add a z to the folder title.
  • Use numbers or dates to organize your folders. Numbers sort before letters.

Please share your Google Drive tips in the comments!


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