Google Drive is a cloud storage solution that enables you to save files online and access them anywhere from any tablet, smartphone or computer.
There are multiple benefits of using a cloud storage service like Google Drive, such as easier file sharing and remote file backup.
But compared to rivals like DropBox and Apple’s iCloud service, Google Drive’s popularity hinges on helpful collaboration tools and built-in integrations with Google’s suite of products and services.
If you have a Google Account, now you have 15 GB of free storage space on Google Drive. So how do you use all that space? Our guide covers everything from using Google Drive to transfer and access files on any device, to all the tools that make it easier to collaborate with others.
How does Google Drive work?
Think of Google Drive as the hard Drive of the last few days.
Google Drive allows you to download and save different types of files, documents, photos, audio and video files on Google servers or in the cloud. The Drive can be used as a security solution or as a way to free up space on the device.
To understand why Google Drive is so famous, it’s important to note that it’s designed to work perfectly with Google. And one of the fittest features of the Drive is its integration with Google’s native office suite of cloud applications, which you’ll know if you’re experienced with Microsoft Office.
Most of the users will turn to these programs, which include Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations, etc. Not only do they allow you to create and edit documents, but they are also equipped with intuitive tools that enable real-time collaboration.
Here is a directory of the most regularly used Google Drive apps:
Google Drive operates with an integrated suite of apps powered by Google.
Some other key features of Google Drive:
- File storage: By default, Google gives you 15 GB of free storage on Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. If you ever smash that limit, you can always pay for more space by switching to a Google One account.
- File-Sharing: Files are private until you share them. But you can invite others to view, edit, or download files and documents at any time.
- Access files from anywhere: files can be accessed from any smartphone, tablet or computer. Offline access is also available.
- Full Search: The Drive can recognize images and even text in scanned documents, making it easy to find files.
- Secure storage: Drive files are protected by AES256 or AES128 encryption; the same security protocol used by other Google services.
How to Use Google Drive
A Google account is necessitated to access Google Drive and to get started with Google Drive; you need to create a Google Account if you don’t already have one.
Creating a Google account is free and grants you access to Google Drive, as well as other Google services such as Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Calendar.
Once signed into your account (or signed into an old account), you can access Google Drive in your browser by proceeding to drive.google.com. This will take you to the Drive website, which is quite intuitive and easy to navigate.
Once you’re familiar with everything you can do with Google Drive, you’ll probably want to learn how to transfer, create, manage, and share files first.
Uploading and Creating Files
For starters, you can drag and drop files to disk or create something new.
To access files from Google Drive, you need to import them. There are two techniques to transfer files from a web client, and both are straightforward.
The first method is more straightforward than both and involves dragging a file or folder from the desktop and dropping it into a browser window. Otherwise, click the “New” button at the top left of the screen and select “Upload File or “Upload Folder.
You can also apply the “New” button to create a new document, file, spreadsheet or presentation. As per your requirement, click on the app from the drop-down menu. All new files are automatically saved and can be accessed from your player.
Manage and organize files and folders
Creating folders is a simple way to organize your files.
When you have enough files, you might want to organize them. Much like arranging files on your desktop, the easiest way to manage a drive is to create folders. To create a new folder on the site, navigate to your Drive and click “New, then” Folder.
After naming the folder, you will be able to drag and drop files into the folder located under “My Drive” in the panel on the left side of the screen.
If you no longer need the file and want to drive your Drive correctly, the easiest way to delete the file is to right-click on the file.
This will open a context menu. From there, select “Delete. You can also choose the file you want to delete, then click the trash can icon in the upper-right edge of the screen.”
Share files and folders
Sharing files is as easy as right-clicking.
The most significant appeal of Google Drive is the ability to share files and folders with others. From sharing videos to entire folders on the Drive, Drive makes sharing easy. To share a file or folder from Google Drive, right-click on it to open the context menu, then click “Share”.
From there, you can add collaborators using their email addresses and decide whether people can edit, comment, or view the file.
Any file created on disk can be edited by multiple people at the same time, which means you can collaborate with other people in real-time.
Accessing Google Drive
Now that we’ve removed some of the basics, it’s important to note that there are several ways to access your Drive. With the use of disk in a web browser, you can also access the cloud from a mobile device or desktop computer.
Google Drive on Mobile
The Google Drive mobile app lets you access your files anywhere.
The Google Drive mobile app is open for iOS and Android and is a must-have for anyone who wants to access their files from anywhere instantly.
The app lets you view, download, transfer and delete files, all from your mobile device.
If you want to create, edit, and organize files on the go, you’ll need to download the appropriate stand-alone mobile app. Each app has built-in offline support so they can work independently without an internet connection, but they’re also designed to run seamlessly with the Google Drive app:
- Google Docs for iOS or Android
- Google Spreadsheets for iOS or Android
- Google presentations for iOS or Android
Google Drive on Your Desktop
Backup and Sync allows you to sync local files with Google Drive.
If you’re more willing to work on a desktop computer than a web browser, Backup and Sync apps are for Mac and PC, making it easy to back up files to Google Drive. The desktop client combines seamlessly with Google Drive and simplifies the backup process. Not only does it need minimal effort to use, but it is also easy to install:
How to set up backup and Sync on a Mac
Once installed, a fresh Google Drive folder will be generated on your computer. Any files or folders moved to this folder are automatically transferred to Google Drive so that you can access them from anywhere and from any device.
Tips and tricks for Google Drive
Google Drive is packed with intuitive tools and features and is regularly used to find out what’s best for your wants and needs. Here are some tips that advanced users and beginners alike should know.
Google Drive Integration with Gmail
Gmail is a beneficial integration.
If Gmail is your primary email client, the good news is that it grants full integration with Google Drive.
When drafting a message, you can attach a file from Google Drive by clicking on the Google Drive icon positioned in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.
In contrast, Gmail makes it easy to store attachments on disk. By holding the mouse pointer over the attachment, you will be able to download the file or save it to disk. Just click on the Google Drive symbol and select a folder.
Access files offline
To manage your settings offline, go to the settings page.
Another useful tip is that Drive lets you view and edit files offline without an internet connection.
While you can still download files and folders directly to your computer for offline access, offline mode allows you to view and edit Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Presentations, and changes are automatically synced when the connection is available again.
To enable offline mode, navigate to your Drive and click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Once you have entered your settings, you can enable offline mode by checking the “No connection” box.
Convert files to Google Drive format
It’s straightforward to convert a file to Google Drive format for easy collaboration.
Google Drive supports numerous different file types, but if you plan to edit files on Google Drive, you will need to convert them to the Google Drive format.
This will allow you to easily share the file with others and unlock tools so that you can collaborate with others in real-time.
The files that can be converted to Google Drive format are:
- Spreadsheets (.xls, .xlsx, .ods, .csv)
- Presentations (.ppt, .pps, .pptx)
- Text documents (.doc, .txt, .docx, .html, .rtf, .pdf)
To transform a file to Google Drive format, right-click on the file, select “Open with and click on the suggested application. For instance, if you have a Microsoft Word document, you can convert it to a document. Google.
Google Drive Apps and Services
When it gets to how Google Drive works with Google apps and other services, a lot remains to be explored.
We’ve already covered Drive’s leading office suite of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, which can be seen as a replacement for Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
While most people will love to use these apps, Drive is also compatible and integrates with other Google services, such as Google Jamboard.
Plugins let you do more with Google Docs, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms.
Google’s office suite is excellent on its own, but you can use plugins to customize them. There are many useful add-ons to help you do more with Google Docs, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms.
To explore add-ons, open or create a file, then navigate to “Add-ons” in the toolbar at the top of the screen. Go to the Chrome Web Store to see what’s available.
Third-party app integrations
Along with add-ons, Drive is designed to work seamlessly with hundreds of third-party apps that will let you share and combine PDF files, digitally sign documents, create diagrams, and more, all within the Drive.
For those obsessed with productivity, Drive can also be connected to several productivity tools for a smoother workflow. Here is a small sample:
- Google Drive for Slack
- Google Drive for Evernote
- Google Drive for Asana
- Google AirTable Drive
- Google Drive for Trello
Google Drive is a strong cloud storage solution. But over time, and with the right technical knowledge, it can become an indispensable productivity tool for everyone, from students to professionals.
If you’re searching for other ways to take your Drive experience to the next level, you can always visit the G Suite Learning Center, where you can find step-by-step guides to everything on Google Drive.