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Monthly Archives: May 2014

How I learned to love Google Drive

I started using Google Drive when it was just Google Docs, and it was just… okay. If you had the same experience, you might have stopped using it for a few years and kept praying that Office would eventually be free. Google has made many changes since then, and this year I’ve been really impressed with their interface updates and come to very much appreciate the ability to collaborate. I finally have a system down so that uploading, accessing, and sharing files is now a breeze. Below are a few tips that have made my transition from my desktop to the cloud a seamless experience.

drive_homescreen

The Drive homepage

You can drag and drop!
You probably have created folders to organize your files in, but I find that sometimes I forget to save documents in the proper folder. All you have to do is drag that file from its current location to where you want it to be. Of course, that’s not all – you can also drag files and folders from your Desktop into Google Drive directly for upload! You might be thinking, “Uh, duh” but it seriously blew my mind the first time I did it. (I think it’s because that feature doesn’t generally exist on other websites.) Anyway, Drag and Drop saves you a lot of time and headache.

drag_and_drop

You can either drop files into the navigation window in either the sidebar or main screen.

When in doubt, right-click
Again, I may be a ding-bat, but I didn’t realize a useful menu would actually come up! When I first started using Drive, I would open the file itself to access the “Share”, “Move to”, and “Rename” options. I would have saved a bunch of time if I just tried right-clicking instead. Well, you live and you learn 😛

right_click

Right clicking magic.

Use the Search bar
Seriously – if you get in the habit of using that thing when you can’t find something in any Google product, you will save yourself a lot of time (at this rate, all the time you’ve saved may add up to an episode of Sherlock!). And if you really REALLY can’t remember what you named a file, Google not only searches by filename but also by words contained in the file. In the example here, Google will pull up any file that contains the word “math”. Best of all, if you know what kind of file it was or can narrow it down by any other criteria, click on the right drop-down arrow in the Search bar and select what category the file falls under. (And even more fancy search operators can be found here.)

search

Dear Google, thanks for making searching a thing. Love, me.

Change the color of your folders
This simple thing has made reading my Drive so much easier. Assigning adjacent folders different colors really helps me distinguish the file names more easily. Also, I really like all their color choices!

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Look at all the pretty colors!

Share entire folders
I used to share individual files with my students, and either email or post links to every single one on my website. One of my coworkers pointed out this trick that is MUCH less time-consuming. Although each of my Unit folders are private, there is a shared “Student Files” folder in each of them, and I post a link to that folder on my website. My students now have access to ALL the files in that folder. If I need to update the folder with a worksheet, solutions, or any other new file my students need access to, I simply drop it in the “Student Files” folder. This means I don’t have to add or update any links on my page, which makes me less crazy 🙂   I also use this feature for sharing club agendas, meeting notes, and lesson plans. Collaboration is really so much simpler now!

share_folders

Pay attention to Drive’s file naming convention
You have have noticed that “Unit 10” comes after “Unit 1” and before “Unit 2”. If you want your files to be in the proper order, make sure to name them “Unit 01” that way “Unit 10” comes after “Unit 09”.

I hope this makes your transition to Google Drive a smooth one! If you have any tips, please share them in the comment section. And stay tuned for tips on using Drive’s tools – Documents, Presentations, Forms, and Drawings.