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Our top ten Google Drive features

Here at NoBlue, we use Google Drive on a daily basis and we’ve come across some great features that we wanted to share with you. Here’s a list of our ten favourite Google Drive features, some of which are really useful and you may not have come across.

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1. Team collaboration

One of Google Drive’s greatest features is the ability to collaborate with others on documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings. Up to 50 people can work on the same document simultaneously, from wherever they are, using any device. You can see who is currently working on the document and you can watch their changes as they happen – gone are the days of multiple versions of the same document flying around!

A revision history lets you go back and see which changes were made by which person, and when. So you never have to worry about someone deleting something that they shouldn’t have. There’s even a more detailed revision history which takes you through the changes as they happened.

Google Drive see revision history           Google Drive revision history

Google Drive suggesting mode

If you don’t want someone to make changes to your document without you checking them first, then you can ask them to add comments instead, or get them to change the document to ‘suggesting’ mode. This way, their changes appear in a different colour, and you have to approve them (a bit like track changes in MS Word).

Google Drive add comments

And if a number of people are working on the same document, then the chat function becomes really useful. Click the chat icon in the top right and chat without leaving the document.

Google Drive chat while collaborating

2. Share with people outside your organisation

Files and folders can be shared with up to 200 email addresses for viewing, commenting and / or editing. But you can also share with people outside of your organisation.*

You can easily invite people to share your files and folders by adding their email address, but make sure you click the drop-down arrow to choose whether they have permission to view, comment, or edit the file or folder.

Google Drive sharing settings

One thing to note. if you invite people to edit, then by default, editors are allowed to add people and change the permissions. To prevent this from happening, click ‘advanced’ in the bottom right and then change the setting at the bottom.

Google Drive advanced sharing

Google Drive changing permissions

Google Drive permission settings

You can also make documents public so that anyone can access the file or folder on the internet through search results or the web address. However, if you are a Google Apps customer, your domain’s default setting might not allow you to do this.

*Unless, of course, your administrator has set it up so that users can’t invite people outside the organisation to view, comment on, or edit files at all.

3. Advanced search features

If you use Google Drive a lot, then you may have a large number of documents you have stored, or have had shared with you. Sometimes it can be tricky to remember where you put a certain document or folder. This is where the advanced search features come in handy.

Google allows you to search for files and folders that contain certain words in their title or content. Take this a step further, and using the right search strings, you can search for documents shared from a specific person, documents you have shared with a particular person, the type of document, documents edited on a certain date, and more.

Check out the below table of useful search strings:

Google Drive advanced search

Bear in mind, if you are searching for a document owned or shared by a specific person, or shared with a particular person, you must enter their full email address, not simply their name.

4. Drag and drop uploads

You can of course upload files by clicking the big red “New” button and browsing to the file you want to upload, but why waste time with that when you can simply drag and drop files for automatic upload? This is a great time saver if you are uploading a lot of files into your Drive.

Google Drive drag and drop

5. Use the mobile app to scan straight to your drive

The Google Drive app is really useful. Download it for free and then, when you’re out and about and you see something you want to save on your Drive, you can use your camera to scan an image and save it straight to your Drive. Particularly useful if you see an advert, sign, or business card at an event.

Google Drive scan from mobile

Google also has Optical Character Recognition (OCR) functionality to turn images / PDF files with text into text files. If you go into your Drive, right click on the scanned image or PDF file, then click “Open with Google Docs” then it will create a new document which includes the text extracted from the image. You will end up with the image, and underneath, the extracted text which means it is now searchable in Google Drive. You do have to make sure your image is nice and clear though.

6. Starred folders and files

If you use Google Drive to store a large number of folders and files, then it can get a bit tricky to find them. Star the ones you need to access regularly to speed up the process of finding them. Right click on a folder or file, and select “Add star”. Now you can find them quickly by accessing the “Starred” folder.

Similarly, you can access your “Recent” folder to find the files and folders you were most recently working on.

Google Drive add stars       Google Drive starred

7. Automatically convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format

If you want to be able to edit files that you have uploaded to Drive, such as Word documents, then they first need to be converted into an editable format (i.e. a Google Doc). If you regularly upload different file formats into Drive, and then open them in Google Docs / Sheets each time, then you may find this feature useful.

If you go into Settings, then you can tick the box “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format”. This will automatically convert all your files for you.

Google Drive convert uploaded files

8. View any type of file

Google Drive is great for viewing almost any type of file. You can quickly view many file types including videos, PDFs, Microsoft Office files, and many image file types. This is really useful if you don’t have the software on your computer to open a file, but only need to view it, rather than edit it.

If you need to open certain files for editing, then you will need to use one of the apps from Google’s extensive Apps list.

Google Drive top tipTo preview multiple files at the same time, hold down the shift key while selecting files, then click the eye symbol. Use the cursor keys or the arrows at the sides to navigate through your files.

9. The great add-ons

Google Drive offers lots of additional functionality for your documents in the form of add-ons. There are loads to choose from, many of which are free. For example, ProWritingAid helps to improve your writing by checking your grammar and inconsistencies, etc. Take a look – you may find something really useful!

Google Drive add-ons

10. The research pane

In Google Docs, there’s a great little feature called the Research Pane. By clicking ‘Tools’, then ‘Research’, you bring up the pane which allows you to search Google web results without leaving your document. This is particularly useful if you don’t have two monitors and don’t want to keep switching between two windows. From here, you can preview web pages, insert links into your document, or cite references really easily. 

Google Drive research pane

Do you know of any other great Google Drive features? Let us know in the comments below if we’ve missed any. NoBlue provides cloud-based software for business. If you’d like any further information on Google Apps, Box or NetSuite, get in touch with us today.

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