google drive tips

Google Drive Tips

Google Drive can really streamline your work process and these quick tips will make it even better! Click on the quick links below to jump to a specific tip.

Updated 10/10/2022

Convert a hardcopy to editable doc file

I think we’ve all had those files that seem to completely disappear off the computer so there is only a hard copy left. Well this is the perfect solution if you have a hardcopy of an assignment or test that you need to convert to an editable digital file. This of course works better if you start with a clear copy.

Accessibility – this is also a great method for converting documents to be more accessible for text-to-speech readers like ReadSpeaker.

Copy your file and upload it to Google Drive. It can be a PDF or image. Right-click on the file and choose Open with -> Google Doc

Your file will now convert to a Docs file. The file may need some cleanup to be just how you need it but it is a better place to start than retyping everything.

Below are screenshots from an example I converted. One is a PDF overview of the software Poll Everywhere. The other is the converted Doc of the PDF. Turned out pretty well!

poll everywhere pdf example screenshot
Original PDF
poll everywhere doc conversion screenshot
Converted Doc file

Quickly start a new file

If you are signed into your Google account, you can start a new file super quick even if Drive is not currently open.

For a new document, type “” into your browser, click enter, and a new blank Google Doc window will pop open.

new doc browser bar screenshot

You can do this for multiple file types:

  • Document =
  • Sheet =
  • Slide =
  • Form =

Keep a running record of important files

We do a lot of file editing! But what if you want to jump back to an old version?

Drive will let you save multiple versions of the same file. You can refer to the list and download old versions any time. (Note: This only works for non-Google formats: Office, PDF, etc)

  • Choose the file you would like to save another copy of
  • Right click and choose “Manage Versions” from the menu
  • Click the “Upload New Version” button to add a new version file

These files DO NOT show up separately in Drive. You’ll have to come to this same manage versions popup to download or delete a version.

**IMPORTANT: As stated in the note on the manage versions popup, older versions of your file may be deleted after 30 days.

From the manage versions popup, click next to the version you want to keep to bring up the more actions menu. Choose “Keep Forever”. Now this version will not be deleted unless you do it manually.

Research without leaving Drive

Need to do a quick lookup while creating a file? You can do a Google search right from Drive.

Click on the icon in the bottom right corner that looks like a speech bubble with a star in it. It will expand to say “Explore”.

google drive explore button

Now you can type in the search bar and it will bring up results in a sidebar on the right hand side of the screen. As you can see in the screenshot, it will not just search the web but you can search images and Drive as well. You can drag and drop images right into your document (although always be mindful of copyright when using images from a search).

explore menu screenshot

File sharing – keyboard shortcut

If your file is selected, just push the period (.) button to bring up the sharing menu.

drive file sharing menu screenshot

Search within a folder

To search within a specific folder, right click on the folder from the list. Or choose the dropdown arrow next to the folder name if the folder is already open. Then choose “Search within __ folder” from the popup menu. Now you will see the breadcrumb links replaces with the phrase “Searching in” and your folder name.

Whatever you type in the search bar, Drive will now only search the chosen folder. You can click the X by the folder name to clear searching in just the selected folder.

drive folder search screenshot popup menu
google drive search within folder filter

Add folder color

To highlight a specific folder or add color to folders of a certain topic (for example all tests folders are green), right click on the folder and choose “Change Color” from the menu. Choose which color to use for your folder.

change folder color in Drive animated gif instructions
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