Learn the secrets of Drive and get the most out of Google’s cloud service.
I make use of Google Drive once in a while, probably every day, but I mostly use it for work, especially to back up most of my very important files. I even wrote this post using Google docs at work, in short I even use it at home or in school sometimes whether it’s using sheets to map out my weekly schedule or school timetable, or adding to my ever-expanding list of notes and articles – sharing files and favourites with friends or accessing needed notes or articles on my phone or laptop when I need them has been made easier. It’s hard to imagine how my digital life was before I discovered or rather started using Google Drive.
I have used Google Drive so long that I discovered some secrets or hidden gems that make Google’s cloud service an even better tool and I’m sure most of us do not know, probably some of us do. Here are nine (9) features that I make use of, that might probably be of help to you or be useful to you.
Turn on Quick Access
This latest feature adds a string of thumbnails across the top of the My Drive view, that gives you, obviously, quick access to files that have been recently modified, just like Quick Access on your Windows 10 systems. Thankfully, photos are not included like the Recent view does. You will find a line for Quick Access in the settings area of Drive. Just click on the box for Make relevant files handy when you need them and the refresh the page.
Remove photos out of Recent view
In order for me to view or find the documents that I’ve been working on this week or this month, I turn to Google Drive’s Recent view. Or, rather I used to, before I started using Google Photos to back up photos on my Android phone. Now I can see the photos in my Recent view, thereby, making it useless. I wish Google would give me an option to remove photos from my Recent list of files, but until that happens, you can use this little tweak.
In the search field, enter –jpg, -png or -gif and all of your photos will be filtered out depending on what file format you used to save your photo, allowing you to browse the files you have recently created or edited. You can use this tweak or workaround in Google Drive on the web and the mobile app.
Comment on Microsoft Office files directly
Google, earlier this year added the ability to be able to comment on Microsoft office files, saving you from the stress of needing to convert a Word doc, for example, to a Google doc in order to comment or using a Chrome extension. Now, you can open a Word doc, Excel file, PowerPoint presentation and the like and add your comments to the file directly. Your comments will show up whether your collaborators open the file in Google Drive or in the applicable Microsoft app. To add your comment, click on the add comment button, it resembles a square speech bubble with a plus sign inside it.
Read also: How to activate Google Gmail’s offline mode
Back up folders on PC or Mac
Using Google’s Backup and Sync app, you can back up the contents of your PC or your Mac or just select folders. And you can go around and sync the files that you have stored on Google Drive to your computer for easy and offline access.
Phone backup in one tap
Do you want to back up your phone’s important data to Drive? Yes you can! And with a single tap. On the mobile app, go to Settings > Backup and choose what you want to back up, contacts, events calendar, videos or photos or all of them. Just tap the Start Backup button to get it going. It is likely to take a while, so you might want to start the process overnight. Your phone will need to be plugged in and connected to a very stable network, preferably over Wi-Fi.
Filter your searches
This one is hiding in plain sight. In the search box at the top of Google Drive, there is a drop-down arrow along the right edge. Click it and you will see a panel of search options to filter your search results. If you have made use of Google Drive for years and have packed up a large library of files, then these search options are hugely useful to narrow your results. You can filter by file type, owner and date modified. For shared documents, you can filter it by someone with whom the file has been shared with. And so in order not to leave anyone hanging, you can also filter by files that have an action item assigned to you or have suggestions waiting for you in a file.
Clear formatting quickly
There are a few options for clearing the formatting for text you to paste into Docs. You can select Normal text and highlight text from the toolbar at the top. Or you can go to Format > Clear formatting. You can use keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-\, or Command-\ for Mac. By holding down Shift when you paste text, you can avoid the format-removal process, Ctrl–Shift–V pastes without formatting.
Setup offline access
If you have need to work while you are on the go or other times when you are not connected to the internet, well Google Drive allows you to have access to your files even when you are offline, then it will sync any change that has been made when you get back online, but there are two things that you have to do first for you to setup offline access:
- Install the Google Docs Offline extension.
- Sign into Google Drive, click the cog button to open Settings and then check the box in the Offline section for Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so you can edit offline.
One last thing: for you to be able to edit files while you are offline, you have to be signed into your Google account and use Chrome.
Send links to files instead of attachments
At the bottom of Gmail’s compose window, there is a little Drive. It enables you to attach files that you have stored in your Drive or simply send or insert the link to that file. For Google Drive formats, Docs, Sheets, Slides and so on, the only option you have is to send a link to the file. For other file types, Word docs, PDFs, images etc., you have the option of sending them as attachments or a link, which allows you to share larger files that are larger than Gmail’s 25MB size limit for attachments.