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How Google Drive Can Help You Stay Organized as You Head Back to School

Sandy Writtenhouse 04-08-2016

Whether in high school or college, you are busy. In addition to rushing to classes, you pack in a job, family, friends, clubs, sports, and more. So, it is important to stay as organized as possible, especially with your school work.


Google Drive provides a simple and featured system for file management and storage as well as sharing and collaborating. With these handy tips and tricks, you can start the school year off right 6 Custom Planners You Can Easily Make With Google Drive Why not ditch your to-do app for a Google Drive planner? These online planners made with Google tools prove their versatility. Read More .

Starting With Folders

Creating Folders

One of the best ways to organize Google Drive for school is to start by creating a folder for each term. For example, you can create a folder named Lincoln High Fall 2016 or State University Term 3. Then, inside the applicable term folder, create a sub-folder for each class such as Calculus, Human Body, Nutrition, or Psychology.


To take it a step further, you can create additional folders within the class subfolders for certain projects and assignments. For instance, within Nutrition you may create folders for Week 1 and Week 2 or Ingredient Project and Restaurant Essay. This structured method allows you to stay organized easily and find what you need quickly.



To create a new folder, click New > Folder or right-click and select New Folder. Additionally, keep in mind that all folders, sub-folders, and contained files can be viewed in list or grid format and can also be sorted by name, modification date, or opened date. This flexibility allows you to view your drive exactly as you want.


Coloring Folders

Once you have created your folders and sub-folders, assigning them sensible names is obvious. But, Google Drive also allows you to assign colors to your sub-folders. Associating a color with the class and assigning it to the sub-folder lets you locate items at a glance and when you are in a hurry. To assign a color, right-click the folder, put your mouse over Change color, and then make your color choice.



Working With Files

Uploading Files

You can upload and save a variety of document and media types to Google Drive. From PDF and text documents to images and audio files, you are covered with the most common types. Navigate to the folder or sub-folder where you would like to upload the file. Then select New > File upload or right-click a blank spot in the folder and choose Upload files from your context menu. Then just browse to the file location and click Open.


Moving Files

If you happen to start saving files and images before you create the folders and sub-folders, there is a simple way to move those items to keep your organization flowing. You can select more than one file at a time by dragging through them or holding down the Control (Ctrl) key as you click each one. Then, just drag and drop them to the appropriate folder or sub-folder.



Alternatively, you can select the item and choose Move To from the context menu. Then, move forward or backward to pick your folder.

Creating Files

Another terrific way to stay organized for school with Google Drive is by creating your files with the features of Google. This is particularly useful if you do not own software such as Microsoft Office or Apple’s iWork apps. Just click New and then choose your application.


Google offers Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, and My Maps, all of which can be created, edited, and shared from within Google Drive. If you would like to download a file The Only Google Drive Guide You'll Ever Need to Read Google Drive is the perfect combination of online file storage and document management tools. We explain how to best use Google Drive on- and offline, by yourself and in collaboration with others. Read More you created with one of these Google apps, this can be done using a variety of common formats as well.



So, if you are required to specifically create a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation for class, as an example, a Google Slides document can be downloaded as a .pptx file for PowerPoint.

Sharing and Collaborating

Many teachers and professors assign group projects for their classes. For a lot of students, these are stressful assignments. But, with Google Drive’s sharing and collaborating features, you can help reduce that stress by organizing the project, staying up to date, and joining forces with classmates easily.

Sharing Folders

It may not be often that you want to share an entire folder; however, for group projects this is a great way to organize the assignment. For instance, if you have a group project for your Nutrition class, you can create a folder within that class sub-folder specifically for the project.

To share a folder, just select it and then either click the Share icon from the top navigation or right-click the folder and choose Share. You can then grab the shareable link and send it to your classmates or enter their email addresses for it to be sent directly to them. The feature also includes options for those you invite to be able to edit or only view the folder.


Sharing Files

For those times when a group project only entails a single file rather than an entire folder, the sharing options are just as simple and come with extremely handy collaboration features. To share a certain file 10 Tips for Managing Shared Files on Google Drive Are you still learning the ropes of Google Drive? Here are several tips to help manage your files on Google Drive better. Read More , the actions are the same as sharing a folder. You can either use the Share button or right-click and use the context menu.


Collaborating With Comments

With files, you have an additional sharing option beyond your classmates’ ability to edit or view. You can choose to allow their comments on the documents. This is particularly helpful for collaboration How to Easily Collaborate on Google Drive with Online Annotation There are specialized annotation web apps available that integrate with Google Drive and make communicating with others about your document easier. We look at the best annotation tools for Google Drive. Read More because the comments are contained directly within the document, are trackable, and can include notifications; all by selecting the Comments button from within the document. This feature provides a smooth and organized collaboration method.


Additional Tips and Tricks

The View Details Sidebar

This handy tool keeps you in the loop with all details and activities for the items in your drive. Just click the Show Details button from the top navigation. You can then quickly see details, including the modification date, location if it is a file, and who last changed it, along with the most recent activity.


Keyboard Shortcuts

For performing actions quickly such as moving through your drive, creating files, and jumping to other locations, Google Drive offers many keyboard shortcuts. You can access these by clicking the Settings button from the top navigation and then choosing Keyboard Shortcuts. There is also a link to view all of the shortcuts available in the Help Center. Using these can help you to zip through your drive and perform various actions without your mouse.


Mobile Apps

Whether high school or college, you are always on the go, so having Google Drive on your mobile device is super convenient. Access folders and files, view activity on items, and share with others right from the app. It is available for free on both Android and iOS, so when you are out and about, your files and projects are always at hand.


Browser Extensions

When you are online doing research, convenient browser extensions can help 15 Essential Chrome Extensions For Google Drive You've probably got a bunch of files on Google Drive -- and you're going to love these extensions and apps to make better use of your Drive space and the files you keep there. Read More you save and view items for your classes. There are add-ons for both Firefox and Chrome that make it easy to grab that file or image as soon as you spot it. Some extensions, like GDrive Panel for Firefox [No Longer Available] (shown below) will pop open your entire Google Drive with a click.


The Desktop Application

If you prefer to have Google Drive right on your desktop, it is available for download on both Mac and Windows machines. With syncing across the Web application, mobile devices, and the desktop app, your important school items are never further away than a click or a tap.


The Search Feature

If you are ever at a loss for a folder or file within Google Drive, the search box at the top can help. Type in a keyword and optionally choose a type to search your drive 7 Google Drive Search Tips to Help You Find Anything Is your Google Drive a mess? Find everything easier with our help. Google's search operators can find almost anything, including text in images (OCR) or photos based on content, e.g. your dog. Read More . You will find your lost item in no time.


Get Ready for the Bell

When it comes to staying organized during the school year, take some of the stress away by using a full-featured tool like Google Drive How to Organize Your Google Drive Like a Pro Google Drive's biggest benefits are its advanced search features. They can help you sort and organize your files and you'll always find what you need! Read More . It is easily accessible from anywhere, allows for file creation, has handy sharing and collaborating options, syncs across devices and platforms, and provides a simple file management and storage system. And if you’re missing a specific feature, chances are there is a tool that plugs into Google Drive Make Google Drive Absolutely Awesome with These Tools Google Drive comes packed with smart features. And you can greatly expand its potential with third-party tools. Here we have compiled some of the best tools that plug into Google Drive. Read More .

Do you use Google Drive for school and have handy tips and tricks of your own? Please share your suggestions in the comments below!

Explore more about: Collaboration Tools, Google Docs, Google Drive, Organization Software.

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