Microsoft users beware. Even if you’re a diehard Word, Excel fan, once you give Google Drive a chance, you will not look back. And here’s a whole post to explain why. 🙂
Before we get into it, there are a few things to know about drive…
- It’s free
- It’s cloud based
- It’s always current and up to date
- It’s built for collaboration
Which means, you never have to pay for it. You can access it from your phone or any computer in the world. You can work with a team member and not have a million versions floating around your inbox – you’re always working on the most up-to-date version of your project. The days of searching through your e-mails for attachments and figuring out which are the most current are over with Google Drive. No more naming and renaming of files (I used to have multiple copies of the same document with slightly different file names that took forever to sort through. Gone are those days!) And everyone with access to the file sees the same version. And never fear, I’ll show you some tricks in the section on collaboration so don’t worry about someone messing up your project.
Google Drive Basics
The Google drive suite consists of:
Of these, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms are most commonly used. Google Sheets looks and functions much like Microsoft Excel, Docs corresponds to Microsoft Word, and Slides is much like Microsoft PowerPoint.
When you log into Google Drive with your Gmail address, you find yourself on a screen with a blue “New” button on the left. Click it, and you have the option to create a Doc, Sheet, Slide, or click “More” to access the options for Form, Drawing, Map, or Site. You also have the option to upload files or folders – these are converted to their corresponding Google version.
Once in your project, you have the option to be share it with others via a link or the blue share button (upper right on the screen). You can give collaborators the rights to either edit the file or folder, comment on it, or simply view it. These privileges are controlled by the owner (creator) and can be changed at any time.
Using Google Drive products is intuitive for most people; usually it just takes a bit of time to locate the features similar to Microsoft’s products. The biggest challenge people seem to have with Google Drive is organizing files so that they can easily be found.
Master the following, and you won’t have a problem with organization!
Create folders to organize files according to topics. Remember that you can add folders within folders. Access files and folders by clicking the drop down option next to the “My Drive” icon.
If you right click on a folder, you have the option to change the color of the folder. I like to color-code related folders with different shades of one particular color.
Starred items can be easily accessed by clicking on “Starred” in the left menu. I make use of this option when my Drive becomes jam-packed. I star folders that contain current projects so I don’t have to spend time searching for them. To designate a folder or file as starred, right click on it and select “Add star.”
Add to my drive
When people share their files and folders with you, you’ll access them by clicking on “Shared With Me” on the left menu. I have a suggestion to make your life easier – I like to add them to my drive so you I can organize them in a way that makes sense to me. If you only access files and folders through the Shared With Me section you’ll find it time-consuming and frustrating to locate what you need.
To do add a file or folder that is shared with you, you have two options. With the title of the document highlighted, click on the gray Drive symbol (with the plus mark) in the upper right corner of your screen, or, if you are actually in the document, click “File” from the top menu, and then click “Add to My Drive” from the dropdown menu.
Sometimes you’ll want to edit a shared file, but for your eyes only. For example, maybe a template is shared with you and several others. You need to first make a copy of the file shared with you. Super important. If you don’t make a copy and you edit the original file shared with you, those edits will exist on that original document for all to see.
To make your own copy, click on “File” and then “Make a copy…” You can then choose to rename the file, otherwise, the default name will be “Copy of [original file name].” Keep this in mind when locating the file later.
Collaboration (here are the tricks I promised you earlier)
The comments feature within Google Drive is incredibly helpful when working with people on a project. You can add comments to files (much like in Microsoft Word) by highlighting the text and either choosing “Insert” from the top menu and then “Comment” or by the keyboard shortcut Control + Alt + m.
Comments can then be edited or resolved by you or others working on the file. This is a fantastic way to keep track of what needs to be done and what has been completed.
Viewing Options, Suggesting, and Revision History
When working with others on files, the view options are also helpful. View options can be accessed via the pencil icon in the top right corner. These options allow for feedback from others without actually modifying the file.
One of my personal favorite features of Google Drive is the ability to track the changes to any file via the Revision History, which can be found under File. Tracking revision history gives you the ability to see and revert to any previous changes. No more lost work!
Outline for Docs
As you type a Google Doc, an outline is automatically created for you! As you create headings, they are added to the outline – you don’t have to lift a finger. The headings within the outline are clickable, giving you fast access to all sections of your paper without having to scroll through it! If the outline doesn’t automatic
ally pop up, you can access it through the “Tool” option in the top menu.
Google Docs includes a fantastic tool that allows for voice dictation. To access it, first click on “Tools” in the top menu and select “Voice typing.” Click on the microphone image to speak, and watch the text appear on your document! You can indicate punctuation and basic formatting as well!
GORGEOUS themes for your slide presentation
To make the most of your Google Slides presentations, consider importing a theme to enhance your presentation’s visual appeal. You will have some options in slides:
I recommend Slides Carnival to find attractive themes. From their website, select a theme you like and click on “Use This Presentation Template.” This opens the presentation in Google Slides. From here, follow the procedures above in “Copies. Within the presentation that you’re working on, click on “Themes” along the top menu. You will then see a menu on the right at the bottom with the option to “Import Theme.”
After clicking on “Import Theme,” select the new template from the list of available presentations. And then you can click on “Import Theme.” Next step? Admire your new presentation! Remember to strategically choose the best slide layouts from the left menu.
Google Drive allows you to upload and save any type of file, including videos, photos, PDFs, and Microsoft files. You simply need to click on the blue “New” button on the left menu on your main Drive page, choose “File” or “Folder,” and now it’s stored in your Google Drive!
Google’s Search Feature
Finally, if all other organization methods fail, you always have the option to search for the files and folders at the top of your Google Drive menu. This powerful feature doesn’t just search through titles, but also through the entirety of your documents!
Drive for Android
If you use Google Drive on an Android device, you have the option to take a picture of a paper document and have Drive automatically save it as a PDF. No more searching through piles of paper for that receipt from two weeks ago!
Add-ons to Google Drive’s products are available through the top menu, and the possibilities for your particular needs are nearly endless. Make sure to explore what works best for you, but some of interest to freelancers include Letter Feed Workflows, Lucid Charts, PandaDoc, and UberConference.
Enjoy Google Drive! Here’s betting you’ll never go back to your old system!