Is your Google Drive just a big mess of unorganized files and folders that make it impossible to find anything? Here’s how to clean up your Google Drive.
Like any other place where you store your data, Google Drive can get messy. You create a file or two, import some documents from Gmail, accept a shared folder, and before you know it, the whole place is a disaster.
1. set your default view
You can view files and folders in Google Drive in several ways. For example, you can display everything in a list or grid view, and set the line spacing to be snug, comfortable, or compact. Decide how you want your Google Drive to look by playing around with the settings until you’re happy. I prefer the list view with comfortable spacing, which is what you’ll see in most of the screenshots here.
Don’t ignore the left sidebar. Many people focus on the middle of the screen when looking at Google Drive. However, when it comes to organizing your folders and files, you should definitely pay attention to the left sidebar. This way, you can easily see your folders and subfolders and reserve the middle of the screen for the folder contents you want to view.
2. Create a Folder Skeleton
Create a folder skeleton for yourself with the structure and names that work best for you. How do you organize your files and folders in other applications? What comes to mind when you think of a document you need? To know how to set up your folders, it is best to answer these two questions.
Many people think of the content of their work first, and therefore use thematic names like Project X or Schoolwork for folders. Personally, I stick to dates. When I need to find a file, whether it is a piece of writing or a photo, I always think about when I created it. Therefore, I usually use dates when naming my folders and files. For example, I have folders for 2019, 2018, 2017 and so on. I also use numbers that correspond to years and months. For example, 1906 represents the year 2019 and the sixth month, which is June. When I look at a folder that starts with a number, I know exactly what it means and that helps me quickly find the files I need.
I read online that some people recommend adding an emoji to folder names for more visual clues. Don’t do this. Emoji do not always convert well to other formats. So if you try to create a shared link to a folder or export it, the images may interfere with the process.
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3. create subfolders
Subfolders are a real organizational wonder. Create them and use them! They help you sort and classify your files into smaller, more specific groups.
If you have created folders, but don’t know which subfolders to create, you may not need them yet. You can also create a folder labeled DONE or OLD so you can drag and drop it when you are done with your work or when a folder is no longer needed.
4. Use color
Colors are a great visual cue, and Google Drive lets you add custom colors to your folders. Right-click on any folder in the sidebar or main window and select Change Color. Then select the color you want.
One trick I use is to color my active folders green. Sometimes I have folders or subfolders that have been idle for a while, but one or two of them are still in use. I mark the active folders green and leave the others gray. This way I have a green light pointing the way to the folder where my work in progress is when I want to jump directly to my work.
5. Adding stars to your most used files and folders
In Google Drive, you can add a star to files and folders. This is done in the same way as adding a color: right-click on the file or folder and select Add to Star.
I recommend adding a star to the most frequently used files. This way you can create a list of all the materials you access regularly, regardless of where they are in Drive, by clicking on the Star header in the left-hand bar.
6. Moving important “shared with me” files
Take a look at the “Shared with me” heading in the left-hand bar. Click on it and a jumble of files and folders will appear. Don’t worry too much about them. If there is something important, there are three useful things you can do with it:
Add an asterisk. Adding a star to a file that has been shared with you has the same effect as adding a star to one of your own files. The file appears in the starred content list.
Save to drive/move to folder. Another option is to add the file to your Google Drive and move it to a folder. Right-click on the file and select Move to. Then, in the window that appears, navigate to the folder where you want to save the file. Another option that does the same thing is to select the item you want to save and then click the Google Drive icon at the top right of the screen. You then have the option to move the file to a folder of your choice. In both cases, you create a shortcut to the shared file in the new location you have chosen. The file is still shared with everyone and still belongs to the original owner.
Create a copy. When you create a copy of a file that has been shared with you, the new copy is yours. And that’s exactly what it is: a copy. It is no longer associated with the shared file, and the same people don’t necessarily have permission to access it.
7. Empty recycle garbage can
When you remove a file or folder from Google Drive, it ends up in the Trash, and stays there until you discard it. The longer you leave the Trash, the less you will trust that everything in it will be completely destroyed, and the longer you will hold onto your Trash. Do yourself a favor and empty the recycle bin once in a while. This will help you keep your Google Drive space at an appropriate level, and help your sanity when you are trying to keep an orderly account.