Google Drive to Increase Efficiency and Collaboration

Understanding the ins and outs of Google Drive will positively impact you! Whether you struggle with keeping it organized, finding what you’re looking for, or knowing who has access to what, we will help you make this tool work for you.


  • My Drive: the files and folders that YOU created and own
  • Shared with Me: the files and folders that OTHERS own and have given you some level of permission to access
  • Shared Drives: files and folders created by members in the Shared Drive. All files and folders created here are automatically shared with the other members of the drive with editor access
  • Types of Files
    • Google Docs- word processing documents, similar to Microsoft Word
    • Google Sheets- spreadsheets similar to Microsoft Excel
    • Google Slides- slide presentation tool similar to Microsoft PowerPoint
    • Google Forms- sign up, feedback, and/or survey tool
  • Levels of Access to Files
    • Owner: The person who originally created the file. They can view, edit, comment, manage sharing permissions, and permanently delete the file
    • Editor: Can view, edit, comment, and manage sharing permissions
    • Commenter: Can view and comment
    • Viewer: Can only view the document

Organizing Files

Fun Fact: All Google files save automatically anytime you make changes in the Google Workspace. 

Google Drive Desktop

Save files directly to Google Drive with ease! Instead of opening Google Drive in your web browser, Google Drive Desktop allows you to access and save all files directly into your file explorer on your desktop. 

My Drive Organization

  • For visual organization, you can change the color of folders within your Drive. To change the color of the folders, right-click on the folder > Organize > select color
  • Adding files or folders that are shared with you to your Drive is a great way to keep everything in one place! Go into the Shared With Me section > right-click on the file/folder > Organize > Add Shortcut > select location. 

Recover Deleted Files from Trash

Only owners of files/folders can permanently delete the files. When an owner deletes a file/folder, it will move to the Trash for 30 days. If you go into the Trash section during those 30 days, you can recover the file and prevent it from being permanently deleted. After 30 days, there is no way to recover the file/folder. 

If a non-owner deletes a file/folder, it only removes your access from it. The owner and any others with access permissions can use the document as they did before. As a non-owner, if you delete the file/folder and need access back, you must contact the owner to re-share it with you. 

Efficiency: Using all the Tools in Your Toolkit

Quick Access for New Google Files

Add these links to your bookmarks bar to have fast access to a new Google file at the click of a button. A new file will be created each time you click on the bookmark. 

When you click on the link, a box will appear. Drag and drop the box into your bookmarks to add it to your bar!

Search Bar

The search bar allows you to add specifics and filters to narrow your search to give you the best possible results. Click on the “slider” icon to the right of the search bar. You can add details such as the file type, owner, keywords, dates, and more!

Accessibility Tools

It’s important to get into the habit of knowing and enabling the accessibility features to create a more inclusive environment. By turning on all accessibility tools, you are accommodating all users without them having to disclose personal information they may not want to share. 

Accessibility Tools are located in the Tools menu for each file

  • Translate Document: (only available in Google Docs) Provides translation for the entirety of documents from the original language of the document to someone’s primary language. 
    • A person can select this for any Google Docs document without someone having to “turn on” this feature
  • Voice Typing: (only available in Google Docs) Allows for a user to use a speech-to-text feature instead of physically typing within the document
    • A person can select this for any Google Docs document without someone having to “turn on” this feature
  • Screen Reader Support
    • Braille Accessibility- turning this feature on allows the screen reader support to work with third-party braille support hardware
    • Collaborator Announcements- turning this feature on allows users to use collaborator announcements. Whenever another person accesses the same document that a person is actively using, it will announce their sign-on to the user. 
  • Screen Magnifier Support: turning this feature on allows screen magnifier support to work with third-party software

Collaborating with Colleagues

Sharing Files

In Google Drive, you can share directly from within a whole folder or an individual file. 

  • Whole Folders: sharing a whole folder will share all files within that folder
    • Right-click on the folder name > Share > Type the desired name and select the level of access
  • Individual files: sharing the individual file shares only that selected file
    • Sharing from within the file: click on the share button located in the upper right-hand corner > Type the desired name and select the level of access 
    • Sharing from the Drive menu: right-click on the folder name > Share > Type the desired name and select the level of access

Bypass Gmail File Size Limit

When sending a file through an email in Gmail, the size limit is 25MB. Instead of attaching large files to emails that may exceed the Gmail file size limit and being unable to send it, you can instead share a Google file link within an email and never worry about the file limit again. 

Collaborating Within a Document

One of the most utilized features of Google Drive files is the ability to work on a document simultaneously with other users in real-time. All users can instantly see changes made without redownloading or sharing a new document version. 

Examples of Collaboration 

  • Agendas: Create agenda documents for meetings. Everyone can add agenda items for everyone to see and know what to expect when going into a meeting. It saves people from sending emails back and forth to add agenda items and potentially missed items. 
  • Brainstorms: Create a brainstorming document for everyone to add their ideas to. In a brainstorming document, people can write exactly what they’re thinking without getting things lost in translation. 
  • Comments: Consider giving reviewers commenter-only access when looking for feedback on a file you’ve created. This prevents people from making any direct changes to your work until you’ve had a chance to review their feedback. 

Tip: Be sure to set expectations with collaborators on how to manage making changes to the files!


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