How to get the most out of Google Drive

Google Drive is an incredibly powerful tool for storing and organizing all kinds of data. And best of all, it’s available to anyone with a Google account for free (at least to start with). Also, because Drive stores all of your files in the cloud, it offers some significant advantages over storing everything locally on your phone or PC.

Drive also works on virtually any device with an Internet connection, making it easy to use at home, school, the office, and anywhere in between.

However, if you’re new to Drive, there are some important basics you need to know before you transfer all your data and files. So here’s a quick rundown covering the most critical things about Google’s popular cloud storage service.

Storage and prices

Every Google Drive user gets 15 GB of free storage. However, any data you’ve saved to Google Photos also counts toward that limit. So if you’re using that to back up your pictures, you might not have much space left for documents and files. That said, you can increase your Drive storage through a Google One subscription, which starts at $1.99 per month (or $20 per year) for 100GB of storage and goes up to $9.99 for 2TB of storage (or $20 per year). 100 per year).

For most people, 100 GB is more than enough to store important files, work documents, and family photos. But if you plan on using Drive as a way to back up all your data, you’ll probably want to opt for one of the larger plans. The good news is that while the basic $20/year plan is relatively cheap, there are several ways to get additional storage for free, at least temporarily. For example, anyone who buys a new Chromebook will get 100GB of Drive space free for a year, while customers new to Google One can get offers to try the service with a free one-month subscription.

So before you start uploading all your files, you’ll want to figure out how much storage you need and how much it may (or may not) cost you.

Upload, support files and organization

Once you’ve figured out how much storage you need, you can start uploading or transferring your files to Drive. For individual files or data stored locally on your device, simply tap the New button and select the option to upload File or Folder. On a computer, you can also drag and drop files into your browser window when you’re on the Drive website. Drive supports a wide variety of file types, including most of the popular formats like .JPG, .PNG, .GIF, .MP3, and more. For a full list of supported file types, see the official Google Help Center here.

Once you’ve uploaded all your files, you can manage them just like you would locally on your phone or computer. You can create nested folders and drag and drop files from one place to another. And, of course, you can search for a specific file or folder by typing in the search box, though it’s important to remember that if you’re storing a lot of files in Drive, it might take a little longer to find them (especially if your internet connection isn’t good). very fast). So if you can create a general directory of folders for important projects or datasets from day one, you’ll probably save yourself a lot of time and headaches later on.

It’s also important to note that while you can create new Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. directly from Drive on your PC, on your mobile device you must install both Drive and the specific productivity program you want individually. This is because while they all work together, they are considered stand-alone apps.

Another great way to use Google Drive to organize your work is to save templates for multiple projects in Docs. This allows you to start writing a script or creating forms without starting from scratch each time. You can also save templates for things like bibliographies, which could save students time when trying to cite sources for a research paper.

Alternatively, instead of using dedicated apps, you can share a Google Sheet with roommates to help calculate the cost of utilities and other shared expenses. And while it wasn’t strictly designed for this, students have found that when places like schools ban or place restrictions on typical messaging apps, they can still chat with friends using Google Docs. All you have to do is invite people to a blank document, and then use real-time collaboration to talk and reply to each other. And once you’re done, you can simply delete the document or save it for another day.


As well as making cloud storage simple and easy to use, one of Google Drive’s most powerful features is its range of collaboration tools. Sharing a file or document with another person is as simple as hitting the share button and entering your email. Alternatively, Drive can generate a link to send via text, social media, or the messaging app of your choice. Once someone has access, you can view or edit the file with them in real time.

That said, it’s important to know who you’re sharing your files with and how they’re using them. For example, it might be very helpful to give editing permission to a teacher or mentor if you’re looking for help with an essay, but less so if you’re just sharing an eBook with a friend.

In addition to the file owner, Drive offers three different levels of access: viewer, commenter, and editor. And if something goes wrong and you ever want to see a previous copy of a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide, you can open the File menu and select the option that says Version History.

Viewers can only view and read the document, but do not have the ability to change any of the content. Commenters can view and display thoughts and questions about content using Google’s commenting tool, while editors can make changes as a document owner.

If you want to see files that others have recently sent you, you can click the Shared with me tab in Google Drive. And if you have a Google Workspace account through school or work, you can also open the handy Activity Dashboard by clicking the wavy icon. (It’s in the top right next to the blue Share button on a desktop.) Finally, if you want a quick way to see what files you’ve shared with others, you can type “to:” into the Drive search box.

Access files offline

While Google Drive is primarily designed as a way to manage documents and files stored in the cloud, it does support offline access, which can be useful when you don’t have a good internet connection. However, there are a few steps you need to take before you can take full advantage of using Drive offline.

First, you need to make a few changes to your drive settings while connected to the Internet before you can go offline. On a computer, you need to click the gear icon in the top right corner of the Google Drive browser tab, tap Settings, and then check the box next to the Offline menu option.

On mobile devices, you’ll need to open the Drive app, search for a specific file, and then designate it for offline access by enabling the More icon option (it’s the one that looks like three vertical dots). Once you do, you will be able to access, edit and save the changes you make.

And the next time your device connects to the Internet, it will automatically sync any changes you’ve made to the offline document with the one saved in the cloud. Meanwhile, on a Chromebook, all you have to do is open Google Drive settings, scroll down, check the box next to the Offline option, and hit Done.

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