Tips and strategies for organizing your Google Drive to easily find the files you needa

5 Easy Organizational Tips for your Google Drive

How Can I Find My Files in Google Drive??!

Organizing your Google Drive (1).png
Paper image from Attendee lists flickr photo by quinn.anya shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

It is very easy to lose track of files in your Google Drive, or to feel that it is disorganized. A colleague of mine recently expressed that she wished she could just ‘start over.’  While my Drive doesn’t always look organized either, I am going to outline for your 5 tips to help you keep track of what you have in there, so that you don’t waste time searching, and can readily find your files.

These are beyond (or in addition) to the folder organization tools in Google Drive. Google Drive has built-in folder organization that you can use to organize your files. You can do this from “My Drive” by either dragging the files into the folders (on the left), by right clicking on the file and then choosing ‘move to.’  You can also do this within each folder by clicking on the folder icon at the top next to the title of the document.  This is similar to how you would use folders on a desktop computer.  But let’s be honest, we aren’t always so good at putting our documents into the right folders right away. And in Google Drive our folders get filled up even more quickly with documents we create, those we upload, those shared with us. So how do we find the things we are looking for??

Here are a few strategies that I use to keep track of my work inside Google Drive.

Star tool

This is probably my favorite!  I have certain Drive files that I use almost every day – team documents, phone logs, etc.  For frequently used things that you want to keep available, star them!  You can do this while you have the document open by clicking on the star next to the document, or by right clicking and then choosing “add star”



Then, to find these files again, simply click on ‘starred’ and you will get only those files. This is the fastest way I’ve found to go to files that you know you will be using a lot.


Add to Drive

Some people like to just leave files that are shared with them in their “Shared with Me,” but if you want to be able to organize the files that people share with you, you will need to add them to your own drive.

The “Add to My Drive” icon looks like this add-to-drive .

Once you add something to your drive, you can organize it in a folder, color code it (we will talk more about this below), star it or do anything else.  However, the owner is still the original owner.  You will still be able to see changes. This is NOT the same as making yourself a copy (in which case you are copying the file or folder as it is now, and won’t see future changes).

You can organize the files within your drive by drag and drop, or by using the organize menu, shown below.


Color Code

Did you know you can color code items within your drive?!

I just learned this recently. You could color code by class periods, but subject, by whatever other system would help you.  A few screen shots are shown below. You can right-click and change the color of a folder.

The colors make it very easy to pick out the items you are looking for.



Search Tool (file name, person name)

Google is, originally and primarily a search tool, and it’s still really good for searching. I know people who don’t even try to organize their Drive, and just use the search tool.

You can, of course, search for files by name, or by keywords within the file. Did you know you can also search by file type?  By the person who shared with you?  You can also use that little arrow on the right hand side can give you many more filtering and searching options


search filters in google drive


Just like in your desktop folders, you can sort your google drive by size, date modified, owner and a few other things.  This can make it easier to find what you are looking for.

sort.pngBonus – Set tabs to open

If you really have a document or two that you use almost every day, you do NOT have to go and re-open it every day. You can go to your google chrome settings (shown below)


Then find the setting that says “on startup — open a specific set of pages”


You can choose to open any pages you want when you open Chrome. This includes specific documents.  The easiest way is probably to have them open, and then when you ‘set pages’ you can choose the current pages.   You can also cut and paste the URL.

pages2Here is a further resource on organizing your google drive or check this one out.

What tips and tricks do you use to keep track of your files? Please share them in the comments below.



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