Collaborating with Google Team Drives

Google Team Drives has recently become available as an option for sharing files and folders. With Team Drives, documents are owned by a team instead of an individual. This means that when someone leaves the group, their files remain in the Team Drive without having to transfer ownership. Our Extension Technology team has moved to Team Drives which makes finding shared documents and folders so much easier! We also no longer need to transfer document ownership to a departmental account. We all have access to create folders and manage files within our Team Drive.
Team Drives FeaturesCan be shared to Google Groups and/or users with varying levels of accessAll members of a Team Drive see the same content Files are owned by the team, not by an individualYou can add external users to a Team Drive. The external user must have a Google account and be signed into Drive.Individual files in a Team Drive can be shared with people outside of your team Differences between My Drive and Team Drives

Organizing Your Google Drive

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!


  1. I as I am sure many others would love, be thrilled if we had the ability to sort our files alphabetically by FILE TYPE. This would help in so many ways. I would think if Windows Explorer can do this (the makers of the terrible browser Internet Explorer) that Google could do it with Drive. It has got to be the preferred storage option. I've tried a lot of the others but come back to Drive. Please add this feature.

    1. Hi Beth. Comments do not notify me directly so I am very sorry I didn't see yours. You can sort by file type in Google in the Search box. Click in the Search box and the first item is TYPE. Just select the file type you want and it will return a list of documents of only that type.


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