By its nature, Google Drive is a backup for the files that you upload to it from your computer. But once you start sharing your files on Google Drive, you may be opening the door to having them changed or even deleted (if you transfer their ownership) against your will by other Google Drive users. You may also accidentally delete a file yourself that you or someone else ends up needing at a later occasion.
Fortunately, just as you can upload files from your computer to Google Drive in order to keep them safe there, so too can you download your Google Drive files to your computer or other device if you fear that they will be changed or deleted while on Google Drive. However, downloading your files one (folder) at a time from Google Drive is rather inefficient, so we're going to show you a way to download all of the files on your Google Drive at once with a service called Google Takeout.
Click on your profile picture or email address in the top-right corner, and then click My Account.
Under the Personal Info & Privacy section, click Control Your Content.
Under where it says "Download Your Data", click Create Archive.
On the next screen, click the checkmarks beside all of the Google products EXCEPT "Drive" (or leave the ones beside the other products that you want to back up). Then click Next.
On the next screen, you will be asked to specify how you want to download your archive of Google Drive (and any other Google products that you selected). Make sure that .zip is selected in the drop-down menu under "File Type", and that Send Download Link Via Email is selected in the drop-down menu under "Delivery Method" (these should be the default settings). Then click Create Archive.
When your archive is ready, click Download beside it. (You will be asked to log into your Google Drive account again; do so.)
A download prompt will appear for your archive. Make sure the button beside "Save File" is selected (click it if it isn't), and then click OK.
A window should appear that will allow you to select where you want to save your archive. Navigate to the place where you want to download your archive to, and then click Save.
Just like when you download folders from Google Drive, your Google Drive archive will have all of its files data-compressed to save memory space and speed up download times. You will usually have to decompress the files to get them into a format where they're usable again; follow these instructions to learn how to do so.
Even if you use folders to organize your files on Google Drive, if you upload a lot of stuff to Google Drive, there's a chance that you might lose track of a file that you need to use. No need to worry, though… finding a file or folder on Google Drive is a snap!
Click in the box at the top that says "Search Drive" and type in your search terms. As you do so, Google Drive will display a drop-down menu with files or folders in your Google Drive whose names (at least partially) match your search terms. You can click on one of these suggestions to go right to it, or click the magnifying glass beside the search box to look for exactly what you typed in.
If you want to conduct an advanced search, after typing in your search terms, click the small arrow beside the magnifying glass icon to open a drop-down window with additional options.
Here, you can click each of the drop-down menus to filter your search by:
FILE TYPE — You can search for all file types, just for folders, or for a specific type of file (word document, spreadsheet, picture, video, etc.).
OPENS WITH — You can search for files that can be opened with a specific Google office application (i.e. Google Docs for word documents, Google Slides for presentations, Google Sheets for spreadsheets, and so on).
OWNERSHIP — You can search for files regardless of who owns them, or you can search only for files that you own or that somebody besides you owns.
If you are using Google Drive as part of a business, you can also click the check box beside "Search [Domain]" to see if the file or folder that you're looking for is on the Google Drive of someone else in your business.
When you have your search options set up the way that you want them, click the magnifying glass icon within the drop-down window (i.e. NOT the one to the right of the search box) to conduct your search.
If you clicked on the magnifying glass icon to search, your search results will show up in your main Google Drive window. Simply click on one to go to it. Or, if Google Drive couldn't find any files or folders that matched your search terms, try an advanced search, or try different key words to search for.
That's how to search for stuff on Google Drive! No muss, no fuss!
You don't always have to upload files to put them in Google Drive. Integrated with Google Drive is a set of office applications, commonly known as "Google Docs", that allow you to create files right on Google Drive! This is very convenient if you're using Google Drive as part of a business, as you can create most of the documents that you need without having to leave Google Drive!
Click New in the upper-left corner, and select what kind of Google office document that you want to create (move your mouse cursor over More for more options). Docs is for word documents, Sheets is for spreadsheets, Slides is for presentations, Forms is for questionnaires, Drawings is for images, and My Maps is for using Google Maps to create a custom map (see our Google Maps course).
For now, we'll go with a standard word document.
How to edit a Google Doc in Google Drive
Once you've created a Google Doc, you can type it out, just like you would with another office document program, such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel. Note that all of your changes are saved as you go, so you don't have to worry about losing your work.
You can click on your document's name and type in a new name for it, click the star icon to add this document to your Starred menu in Google Drive, or click the Add to Folder icon to move this document to one of your Google Drive folders (see our tutorial on Google Drive folders for instructions on how the process works) while you're still writing it. You can also click Share to set the sharing permissions for this document (see our How to Share Files in Google Drive tutorial for detailed instructions) while you're still writing it.
Now, we'll show you a couple of special editing tricks. The first is adding comments to your Google Doc, so that other people who have access to this Google Doc can read them and (potentially) act on them. First, highlight the area that you want to comment on by clicking and holding the mouse button near it, moving your mouse cursor across the area, and then releasing the mouse button. Then, click the Insert Comment button in the editing toolbar (it looks like lines of text inside a speech bubble, next to the icon that looks like a chain link).
A window will appear to the right of the area that you selected. Type in what you want to say about the area that you highlighted, and then click Comment.
To respond to a comment, click in the box below it marked "Reply" and type in your response. Then click Reply. Or, if you've dealt with the issue at hand, click the Resolve button to archive this series of comments.
The other special kind of editing that you can do is making suggestions. To do so, click the Mode drop-down menu in the upper-right corner and select Suggesting. Then, make whatever edits you want; they will appear in a different colour, and will create a window to the right of each one outlining the changes made.
In each of these windows, click the checkmark to go ahead with the edits, or click the "X" to undo them. Note, however, that you may not be able to do this if you only have the privilege to comment on the file, and not to directly edit it.
How to open a Google Doc in Google Drive
If you close a Google Doc that you made in Google Drive and need to get back to it, simply find it in Google Drive and click on it to select it. Then, click the More Actions menu (it's the one that looks like three stacked dots), move your mouse cursor over Open With, and then click on the name of the program that you used to create the Google Doc.
As a shortcut, you can also quickly click twice on the Google Doc itself.
That's our guide to creating, opening, and editing Google Docs in Google Drive!
Google Drive gives you a lot of memory space with which to store your computer files. So much, in fact, that you might upload more stuff than you can keep track of! Fear not, though; like many computer desktops and email clients, Google Drive allows you to create, edit, and delete virtual folders that will help you keep track of everything. You can even share a folder in order to share all of the files within it at once! How convenient is that?
Click New in the upper-left corner, and select Folder from the drop-down menu.
A window will pop up, asking you to name your folder. Click in the text box inside the window and type in a name for your folder. Then click Create.
How to edit a folder in Google Drive
To create a new folder inside an existing folder, click on the folder to select it. Then, click the More Actions menu (it looks like three stacked dots), and then click New Folder. From there, the process is the same as described in step 3 of the previous section.
If you select a folder, click the More Actions menu, and then click Move To, a window will pop up allowing you to choose a location to move the folder to. Click on the name of the folder that you wish to move the current folder inside, or click the folder icon with the plus sign inside it to instantly create a new folder that you can move the current folder to (you can give it a name, as well). Then click Move.
You can use this same process when you have a file selected to move a file to a folder. Or, to speed up the process, you can click and hold the mouse button down on a file or folder in Google Drive, then move your mouse over to the folder that you want to put it inside, and then release the mouse button.
If you select a folder, click More Actions, and then click Add Star, your folder will show up in your Starred menu on the left-hand side. This is an easy way to keep track of files and folders that you use frequently. Repeat this step to remove the folder from the Starred menu.
You can change what colours your folders display in, if that helps you keep your folders organized and easier to tell apart. Simply click a folder to select it, then click the More Actions menu, move your mouse cursor over Change Color, and then click the colour that you wish to have your folder display in.
You can also rename a folder by clicking on it to select it, then clicking the More Actions menu, and then selecting Rename. A window will pop up allowing you to give your folder a new name. Simply click in the text box inside the pop-up window and type in a new name for your folder, and then click OK.
How to share folders on Google Drive
Click on the folder in Google Drive that you wish to share to select it, and then click the Share icon in the upper-right corner.
Sharing a folder on Google Drive follows almost the exact same procedure for sharing a file, as we outlined in our How to Share Files on Google Drive tutorial. There is one exception, though: you cannot prevent people who have commenting or viewing access to the folder from downloading it or copying it. You can, however, set this option for the individual files inside the folder.
A folder will have a little person added to its icon if it is being shared. Note that changing a folder's sharing settings will apply the same sharing settings to all of the files inside the folder. As we mentioned in the previous step, though, you can still change the sharing settings for each individual file within the folder.
You can also download a folder and all of the contents within it that you have permission to download. Simply click on the folder to select it, click the More Actions menu, and then click Download. From there, the process is pretty much the same as it is for downloading a file, as we outlined in our How to Download Files from Google Drive.
Note that, to save memory space and thus increase download speeds, your folder and the files inside it will be downloaded as a compressed archive, known as a ".zip" file. To decompress the folder and its files into a useable state after you download them, follow these instructions.
How to delete a folder from Google Drive
Click on the folder in Google Drive that you wish to delete, in order to select it. Then click the Remove icon in the upper-right corner.
From there, click the Trash menu on the left-hand side, click the folder again, and then click Delete Forever in the upper-right corner. In the pop-up that appears to warn you that you can't take back this action, click Delete Forever to confirm that you want to delete the folder.
Remember that deleting a folder will delete all of the files inside it, so be sure that you've moved any files that you want to keep out of the folder before you delete it!
That's everything you need to know about folders in Google Drive!