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G Suite Admins Blog > G Suite Business, Work From Home

Managing the Mess: How to Organize Your Google Drive

Managing the Mess_ Organize Your Google Drive




Google Drive is a crucial component at the heart of your Google Workspace (G Suite) experience.

With Google Drive, you can store all the files you need to keep employees informed and engaged in a single, secure environment. What’s more, you can access those essential documents from any device, as well as editing and annotating documents as a team.

The only problem is that the more your team members get used to using Google Drive for storing their crucial work, the more clutter you’re going to end up with in the cloud. Within no time, you could find that you have thousands of files stored in your Drive, meaning that you’re going to struggle with keeping everything properly organized.

The good news? Google Drive does come with a bunch of useful features that can save you some crucial time when organizing your content. You can do everything from color-coding your folders, to creating distinct workspaces based on the things that you use most.

If your Google Drive is a mess, the following tips will help you to get everything back in order again.

Let’s get started.

  1. Start with Folder Structure
  2. Implement Some Color
  3. Standardize Your System
  4. Update Your Naming Conventions
  5. Use Your Sub-Folders
  6. Use List View and Stars
  7. Regularly Audit your Google Drive
  8. Try Google Workspaces
  9. Master Advanced Search
  10. Consider Shortcuts

The best way to start improving your Google Drive environment is to create a clean folder structure. An easy way to start here is to create a folder for each category of work in your business. You can also make sub-folders for different categories too.

If you end up with work in your Google Drive system that doesn’t fall into a distinct category, then you can use a “uncategorized” folder for the extras. Just make sure that your uncategorized folder doesn’t become the default place for all your storage, or you could end up dealing with even more information overwhelm.

Once you have all your folders set-up, make it the job of someone in your team to go through those folders once a week and check that everything is where it should be. The person checking your folders should also have the freedom to add new folders and sub-folders when necessary too.

Don’t you find that it’s easier to sort through things when you color code them? Fortunately, Google Drive allows you to color code your folders, so that browsing through your documents is faster and cleaner. For instance, you could have work from your marketing team highlighted in blue, then work from your Sales team highlighted in red, it’s totally up to you.

Another alternative could be to highlight folders based on when work was done. For instance, April could be Orange, and May could be yellow. That way, your team members can instantly find what they need just by scanning through their Drive, they don’t even need to worry about reading the names on your folders.

To change the color of a folder in Google Drive, click on the arrow on the right-hand side of the folder name, then click the “change color” option.


Changing a Folder's Color (Tips.Net)


It’s hard enough to manage a bunch of virtual documents and work in a rapidly evolving business. The last thing you want is for your system to become even more complicated because you’re dealing with files that are strewn across different platforms like Google Drive, Evernote, and Dropbox.

Make sure that your employees all agree that you’re going to be using Google Drive as your main form of storage. You can also import the items that you want in your Google Drive from those other systems if you want to, so you can ensure that no previous content is going to go missing. Just be sure that you clean out your folders before you move them into Google Drive. Otherwise you’ll end up with more clutter to handle.

Let your employees know that if they have problems with the Drive system, they can come to you for guidance, rather than just using a different tool.

Changing folder colors can make it easier to find content without reading file names. However, that doesn’t mean that you should let your naming conventions fall to the wayside. Think about how you’re going to name all of your documents to make life easier for your team members. For instance, if you do a lot of work according to upcoming deadlines and data-based projects, placing a date in your name could be a good idea.

For instance, you might have a folder named [April] [Business Meetings]. If you need numerous folders within the same month, you can add a more exact date to the sub-folder names within your main folder. This makes it easier for your team members to immediately find the category of work that they need, then switch into a sub-folder too.

If you’ve got a lot of poorly-named folders in your Google Drive so far, then you might need to dedicate some time to go through everything and change the names. To rename your document, highlight the name in the Drive then click the three dots on the right-hand side. Select rename from here.


How to Change the Name of a File in Google Drive - Solve Your Tech


Sub-folders are crucial to good organization in your Google Drive. Having a folder for all the work that you did in April means that it’s easier for your team members to find the time-sensitive information that they need. However, if you had various projects to work on in April, for Marketing, Finances, Product Design, and more, then separating these documents into their own separate sub-folders will make finding information even easier.

Your aim when organizing your Google Drive folders should be to force your employees to do as little scrolling as searching as possible. They should be able to find what they need with just a quick search or a couple of clicks.

Just be careful that you don’t go too over the top with sub-folders. You don’t need a separate sub-folder for every piece of work done during the month you’re trying to organize. If a subfolder only has one or two files in it, ask yourself whether it’s necessary.

If you need to sort through files and folders quickly, you’ll find that it’s often a lot easier to use list-view instead of grid view. That’s because the line that documents are displayed on is smaller, which means that you can scan through more files at once. You can change between grid and list mode by using the icon in the top right hand corner of Google Drive.



Remember, you can also make your content easier to search through by starring the files that you don’t want to lose track of. Find the file name that you need to keep track of, then right click on it. Click on the part of the menu that says, “add to starred”.



When your star is applied to your document, it will have a brightly-colored star added to the file, helping it to stand out when you’re scanning through documents. You can also click on your “Starred” tab on the left-hand side of the page to see all the documents that you’ve starred at once.

Remember to remove the stars from your work when you’re done with a project, so that you’re not cluttering up your Drive with too many “special” documents.

Among the thousands of documents and folders that you upload to your Google Drive every year, there’s going to be at least some that you can get rid of after a while. Old documents for projects that you finished working on years ago can be removed or moved to an “archive” folder instead.

Every month set aside a little time where you can search through your documents, and make sure that you’ve got rid of anything that you don’t need. If you’re not sure that you want to get rid of certain files yet, consider talking to your manager about it. Maybe you can create a separate storage location for “just in case” content.

Right click on a file in Google Drive and click “remove” to delete it.

The Google Drive Priority page was an exciting addition to the G-Suite experience, and a fantastic tool for people who want to stay organized. Located above the “My Drive” button, Priority will give you access to all the essential files that you’ve been using recently. You can also make your Priority page the default home page for Google Drive too.

Priority uses machine learning to determine which files you’re likely to need next. Below Priority, you can also access Workspaces, which allows you to create a collection of crucial files in one location. The Priority page will help with organizing your files into Workspaces. The good news is that moving files into a workspace won’t affect their storage location or permissions. Instead, it just gives you a way to find the documents that you need a lot faster.

In Workspaces, you’ll also be able to see intelligent suggestions of various pieces of related content that you might be able to group together for easier organization.

Another crucial tool to get used to using in Google Drive is the Advanced Search option. Even when you’re struggling with keeping your Google Drive optimized, you can still rely on Google’s state-of-the-art search solutions to help you out.

All you need to do is type your search into search bar at the top of the page to find what you need. If you want to go beyond basic searching options, you can click the drop-down arrow to search through things according to filters like owner, keywords, and dates.

If you know exactly when your last file was modified, then you can search for your documents according to the time too.



Finally, Google’s Google Workspace (G Suite) team is constantly working to improve the way that you share and organize your content in Google Drive. This has led to the recent announcement of Google’s Drive Shortcuts. These are files that act as pointers to help you find other files in the Google Drive environment. You can host shortcut files anywhere in your Google Drive, including in shared drives.

Now generally available, Shortcuts allow you to manage your content with quick links to the tools that your employees might need most. For instance, you could create shortcuts to your marketing and sales policies for your team members.

Good Luck Organizing your Drive

There’s a good chance that your Drive didn’t end up buried in clutter within a day, so it’s probably going to take longer than a few hours for you to sort everything out too. Organizing your Google Drive means not only learning how to make the most of the various tools in the Google environment, but also ensuring that you have the right policies in place to guide your team members too.

The good news is that the tips above should help you to eliminate some of the most common problems that you have with organizing and finding files. If you commit yourself to regularly upgrading and improving your storage system, you’ll be on your way to a cleaner drive in no time.

Still need help making the most of G-Suite? Check out our guides here at Apps Admins, or reach out to us for custom admin services today!

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