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. They can even do it at the same time. 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!

It also offers a revision history, that lets you go back to see when changes were made and who made them. So with Google Drive, you don’t have to worry about something important getting accidentally deleted – you can always bring your deleted details back. There’s even a 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
Of course, if you don’t want someone to make changes to your document without you checking them first, there are options for that to. You can set the document to ‘Comments  Only’ or ask collaborators to use ‘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
If a larger 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 you can 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 editing. Depending on administrator settings, this can even include people outside of your organisation.

You can easily invite people to share your files and folders by adding their email address to the ‘Share with Others’ list. Just make sure you click the drop-down arrow and 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 also allowed to add people and change permissions. To prevent this, you need to click ‘advanced’ in the bottom right, 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 which means that anyone can access the file or folder 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.

3. Advanced search features

If you use Google Drive a lot, then you may be storing a large number of documents. This can make it tricky to remember where you’ve put a particular 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. You can take this a step further, and search for documents shared from a specific person or documents you have shared with a particular person.

Use the right search strings and you can even search by document type or the date the document was edited on. Check out the below table to see some of the most useful search strings:
Google Drive advanced search
Bear in mind that if you are searching for a document shared by (or with) a specific person, you need to enter their full email address, not just their name.

4. Drag and drop uploads

You can of course upload files by clicking the big red “New” button and finding 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 onto your phone then, when you’re out and about and you see something you want to save, 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.

To use it, go into your Drive, right-click on the scanned image or PDF file, then click “Open with Google Docs” This will create a new document which includes the text extracted from the image. The extracted text will then be searchable through Google Drive too. The only caution is to make sure your image is nice and clear.

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 and you can speed up the process of finding them.

Simply right-click on a folder or file, and select “Add star”. Then you can find them quickly by looking in 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 need to be converted into an editable format (i.e. a Google Doc). To make life easy, there is a setting in Google Drive that does this for you. Go into your Drive setting and 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 able to view almost any type of file from documents like PDF’s and Word Docs to images like PNGs and JPGs.

This means you don’t need a host of different specialist software to be able to quickly view and read files. If you want to edit certain files types, you may need additional software but Google’s extensive Apps range is likely to offer one that does the job.
Google Drive top tipTo preview multiple files simultaneously, 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.

One example is ProWritingAid, which helps to improve your writing by checking your grammar and inconsistencies, etc., and there are plenty of others.

Take a look – you may find something really useful!
Google Drive add-ons

10. The research pane

In the Google Docs app, 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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Stephen Adamson


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(+44) 115 758 8888
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