7 Awesome Google Drive Features You Probably Didn’t Know About


Many people take Google Drive for granted. You store your files there and fetch them when you need them. But Google Drive is much more than that. Here are some useful features you might have missed.

Find files using advanced search

The more files you upload to Google Drive, the more files you’ll need to review. Fortunately, you have advanced search options to make the task easier.

related: How to Quickly Search Google Drive

Enter a keyword or phrase in the “Search Drive” box at the top of the home page. Then, click the Show Search Options icon to the right of the search box.

You’ll see a number of options for finding files. Select the file type or owner, use keywords in the file or filename, select a location, select the date modified option, or use one of the other fields you see.

Search options in Google Drive

Select Search, and view the results. You can also perform searches directly in Google Drive folders if you know which folder the file is in.

link directly to the file

Another handy Google Drive feature is getting direct links to files. You can do this without even opening the file. Then, save it to your notes for quick access or to use with collaborators.

Right-click the file and select Get Link.

Get links in the shortcut menu

You can then select “Copy Link” to put the link on the clipboard and paste it where you like. You can also use this box to share a link by entering a contact’s email address.

Copy and share options for Google Drive links

At the bottom of the window, use the General Access section to control who can open the linked file. You can choose “Limited” to allow access only to those you share it with, or “Anyone with the link” to allow anyone who clicks the link to open the file.

General access to file links

Working with Microsoft Office documents

If you have Google Drive, you don’t need to own Microsoft Office to work with Office files. You may have received Word, Excel or PowerPoint files that you need to view or edit. You can open these files in the corresponding Google app, Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

related: How to download files and folders from Google Drive

Additionally, you can download Docs, Sheets, and Slides documents in Microsoft Office formats.

To open an Office document, upload it to Google Drive like any other file. Then double-click or right-click, move to Open with, and choose from Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

Open Word files with Google Docs

When the file is opened in the corresponding application, you’ll see the file format that remains on top. Your changes are automatically saved, and you can download the file in its native Office format.

Open a Word document in Google Docs

It’s just as easy if you have Docs, Sheets, or Slides files that you want to export and save in Office formats. Open the document and go to the “File” tab. Move to Downloads and choose a format in the pop-up menu.

Download Google Docs in Word format

Manage file versions

Similar to getting a link to a file without opening it, you can manage its versions. This feature works with PDF and Microsoft Office files as well as images.

Right-click the file and select Manage Versions.

Manage versions in the shortcut menu

You’ll then see a popup with every version of the file, including the current one.

Manage Versions window in Google Drive

As you can see at the top of the window, old versions may be deleted after 30 days or 100 stored versions. If you want to avoid losing the previous version, click the three dots to the right of it and select “Keep Forever”.

Stay forever in the Manage Versions window

If you have a newer version saved on your device that you want to use, select Upload New Version. Then, browse for the file and select Upload.

Upload new version button

Two other actions you can take are to delete or download any versions you see. Use the three dots to the right of the version to select Remove or Download.

Download or delete file versions

View a file’s activity, details, and description

While this may seem like a no-brainer, being able to view a file’s activity and details might be just what you need to do. Additionally, you can utilize the description in Google Drive to add your own details.

related: How to change the owner of a file in Google Drive

Open the details sidebar in one of the following ways:

  • Right-click the file and select View Details.
  • Select the file and click the view details icon (lowercase “i”) in the upper right corner.
  • Select the file, click the three dots at the top, and select View Details.

Then you will see two tabs in the sidebar, “Details” and “Activity”. Using Details, you can view the file type, size, owner, creation date, and more. Events let you see information such as when a file was uploaded or edited.

Details and activity of files in Google Drive

To add a description to a file, use the Details tab in the sidebar. Enter your text in the Description box at the bottom and press Enter or Return. This is a great way to distinguish between files with similar names.

Description box for Google Drive files

Add comments to files

Another handy Google Drive feature is the ability to add comments to files. This is useful for your own or collaborators’ notes.

Open the file in preview mode. You can do this by selecting the file and clicking the preview icon (the eye) at the top, or by right-clicking and selecting “Preview”.

Select the portion of the file to comment on, then select the comment icon on the right or top.

Enter your comment in the box that appears, and click Comment.

Comment box in Google Drive

Note that you can use the @ (At) symbol to mention collaborators if you wish. As a bonus, you can assign your comment to that person. Check the Assign To box and click Assign.

Comment box for assigning comments in Google Drive

Upload files using your mobile device camera

If you use the Google Drive mobile app, an additional feature is available to simplify uploading. You can use your device camera to capture a document or other item and upload it as a PDF (Android) or image (iPhone).

related: How to upload files and folders to Google Drive

on android

Open the Google Drive app for Android and tap the plus sign to upload files. Then, select Scan.

Create a new document and scan in Google Drive for Android

Hit the shutter button to scan the item, then save it with the check mark. You can select the trash can icon to recapture the scan if necessary. Choose Save.

Check mark and save option for scanned items

Choose where to save it in Google Drive, then click Save again. You will then see the scanned PDF file.

Save scans in Google Drive for Android

on iPhone

Open the iPhone’s Google Drive app and tap the plus sign to upload the file. Then, select Use Camera.

Create new documents and use the camera in Google Drive on iPhone

Tap the shutter button to capture an image, optionally tap “Use Photo” to upload. You can also select “Retake” to recapture the footage if needed.

Save to Google Drive Using Photos on iPhone

After a few moments, you’ll see your picture in Google Drive.

Sometimes features are obvious, especially if they’re features you use frequently. But there are others that you don’t realize exist and will find very helpful. Hope at least one of these Google Drive features is useful to you.

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