Skip to content

5 Google Drive Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier

Using Google Drive can be a blessing and a headache at the same time.  Files are appearing in your Google Drive left and right, you have no idea where they came from or how to get rid of them! Luckily, I have 5 helpful tips that can make your life a little easier when it comes to using Google Drive.

1.  Organize, Organize, Organize.

Take advantage of those organization tools.  When you go to Google Drive, there is an option to create Documents, Presentations, etc. there is also can option to create folders?  From there you can move files into those folders by selecting the document and then clicking on organize.


(Be careful that you don’t move files out of a shared folder though!  It will remove that file for everyone who has access to that folder.)  These folders work just like your folders on your laptop or desktop computer.  You can name them accordingly, nest them and change the colors of the folders.

2.  Use the Search Toolbar

Google Drive has its own search toolbar.

Using this tool bar, you can search your entire Drive.  When you put a search term in the textbox, it searching EVERYTHING in your drive  for that term.  It searches titles, descriptions and text within files, even PDFs. You can also apply some search operators to help narrow your search.  For example, use quotes around a phrase to search for that EXACT phrase.  Use the word OR to search for more than one word, use a hypen (-) to remove words from the search results.  There are some other powerful search terms:

title: search within the title only
owner: search documents that are owned by a certain person (use their Google account info, e.g.
to: search for documents that were shared with a certain person (use their Google account info, e.g.

Google also provides documentation on these search terms.  If I can’t find something, the Search Toolbar is my go to tool!

3.  Have more than one Google Account?  

Remember if you have a Google Apps account provided for you by AEA 267 (or your place of employment), it should be used only for work related materials.  Therefore, I have two Google accounts, one that I use for work and one that I use for personal things, such shopping, kids activities, etc.  When you are in one Google account, it is a pain to log out of one and go to the other.  Google provides something called multiple log ins.  When I am logged in to my Google account and click on my name in the upper left hand corner of the web page, I see something like this.  This way I can easily navigate between my two accounts.

To set this up, log into one account, then click on Add Account, and log in to the other account.

This is a great feature, and if you choose to use it, please keep in mind that it is ultimately your responsibility to know which account you are in.  You can check this looking in the upper right hand side of your browser window.  

Also, if you are using a company owned computer, keep in mind that ANY activity that you do on that computer, regardless of what account you are using, is subject to your employer’s Acceptable Use Policy. 

4. Bookmark Common Documents

Because each Google Document has its own unique web address, just like your favorite web pages, you can bookmark any Google Doc the same way as you would a web page (even ones that you don’t own). For example, I have a document called Contract Days that I update frequently.  Instead of opening up Google Drive and locating it in my list of files, I have the document bookmarked or listed in my favorites.  This way I can easily locate it by clicking on the link that I have bookmarked.

5. Organize, Organize, Organize

Ok, I know that I’ve already said, but it bears repeating, and Google Drive has more than folders to keep you organized.  If you have a file or files that someone has shared with you that you don’t need anymore (e.g. old agendas, committee notes that you are no longer part of, documents that are no longer relevant, etc.) you don’t have to keep them.  I’m giving you permission to remove these items from your Google Drive.  To do this, click on the box next to the file that you no longer need then click on the trash can icon at the top.

If you don’t own the document or if you own the document and it isn’t shared with others the document will disappear and you will receive a notice at the top saying that the item(s) was removed. If you own the document and it is shared with others, it will be moved to the trash and you will receive a notice at the top, that it was removed and is no longer shared with others.  In other words, those who you gave permission to the document to edit it, view it, etc, will no longer have access to it.  

If that is not what you wanted to do you can Undo it, by clicking on the blue Undo button, or going to your trash and restoring it.  (Once you empty your trash, you cannot recover it.)

Lots more tips coming!  If you have one that you would like to share or you would like to address, leave a comment below.

Also, check out the AEA 267 Google Apps Website for additional resources. You’ll also find a list of upcoming workshops that are available in each of the AEA 267 offices.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the AEA 267 Google trainers:

Kay Schmalen (kschmalen@aea267.k12.ia,us)

Clair Judas (

Jon Kruse (

Dave Schaefer (

Brian Unruh (




Important Changes to Google Docs!

Google Docs has undergone some significant changes in the past couple of months, one of which is it now called Google Drive.  This upgrade process has been going on for months. Google hasn’t forced this upgrade on all users yet, but has allowed users to choose it. However, there will soon come a time when all users will be upgraded.  If you have the option to upgrade, I would suggest that you to do, to provide everyone with a consistent language when talking about their Google Docs (I mean Drive!).

Here’s a look at some of the changes:

1.  Your Google Drive can now store all file types.  Each user gets 5GB of storage. You can upload any type of file (images, videos, PDFs, etc) into your Google Drive. It’s a virtual flash drive, your file cabinet in the clouds.

2.  Collections are now called Folders.  You can sort almost any view to list the folder first by selecting sort by title.

3.  You can view files in a Grid or thumbnail view.  Google Drive generates thumbnails for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos and PDF files, while showing standard icons for other file types.

4.  The left navigation has new views, e.g. My Drive, Shared with me, and Activity

  • My Drive: Automatically includes everything you’ve created, uploaded, or moved here.
  • Shared with me: Files and folders that others have shared with you in the order that they were last modified. You can move items from this area to My Drive by selecting them and then clicking the Add to My Drive button that appears in the menu across the top. If you want to be able to add files to a shared folder owned by someone else, you will need to addthe folder to your My Drive.  (Do not move individual items out of shared folder to your drive, it will be removed from the folder for everyone!)

If you don’t add this shared folder to your My Drive, when you attempt to place a file in this folder, you won’t see the folder listed as an option.

  • Starred: Files and folders that you’ve deemed as star-worthy.
  • Activity: Everything in your Google Drive in the order it was last updated by ANYONE. Activity is the old Home.
  • Recently opened: Everything that YOU have recently viewed or worked on in the order it was last updated.

5.  Upload settings:

When you upgrade to Google Drive, the upload settings changed to the default setting of not converting files to a Google Docs format.  If you don’t convert the file, it is strictly a view only file.  You can edit your Upload Settings to automatically convert all uploaded files, or set it to ask what to do before each upload. If you convert a file (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc) to the Google Docs format, you will be able to edit the fileusing Google Docs. Not all files can be converted to a Google Docs format, ie video and image files.


If you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact one of the Google trainers or leave a comment on this post.

Kay Schmalen (kschmalen@aea267.k12.ia,us)

Clair Judas (

Jon Kruse (

Dave Schaefer (

Brian Unruh (

Hiding Rows and Columns in Google Spreadsheets

Google Spreadsheets work much in the same way as other Google tools, in regard to sharing.  For this reason, it is great to have the features of spreadsheets along with the option to share with it with your colleagues who need either viewing and/or editing rights to the spreadsheet.

While Google spreadsheets work in much the same way as Excel, there are some nuances.  One of them, is hiding rows and columns.  One resource that I use when I want to learn something in Google, is Google Gooru.  He has video short video tutorials that many times address those little known tips and tricks in Google.

In April, he produced a video, Hiding Rows and Columns in Google Spreadsheets.

If you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact one of the Google trainers:

Kay Schmalen (kschmalen@aea267.k12.ia,us)

Clair Judas (

Jon Kruse (

Dave Schaefer (

Brian Unruh (

Hey! I can’t get into my Google Account!

Believe me, if you read this title, you’re not the only one who has experienced frustration when trying to get into their Google Apps account.  Even me!  I forgot that I had changed my password after a couple of days of not logging in and it took me at least 3 times before I got in!

There are two basic ways of getting into your AEA 267 Google account. The first is by going to and clicking on the Sign button in the upper right hand side of the screen.  

Which takes you to this screen.  Your email ( goes in the top box and your password in the second box.  Click on Sign in and you will be logged in to your account.

You can tell if you are logged in by looking in the upper right hand corner of any Google page (Docs, calendar, the home page).  You should see your name and/or your picture.

The second way to log into your AEA 267 Google Apps account is when you receive an email saying that someone has shared a GoogleDoc with you. Usually something that looks like this…

If you click on the link provided, (and you are not logged into your Google account), you will get a screen that looks like this…

From this screen you only need to enter your username, the portion of your email address before the “@” symbol, which in my case is kschmalen.  If you try to enter your entire email address ( you will get an error message that says, these characters are not allowed (@) 

Input your password and you should be good to go!  If you are having problems with you password, please contact myself ( or Steve Hauser at shauser@aea267.k12.ia or by phone at 319-268-7637.  We would be more than happy to help!

Cutting the Fat

As we begin a new year, we all have things in our Google Docs that we don’t need anymore.  So, the question becomes, how do I get rid of those extra Google Docs that are cluttering up my Google Docs account?


You can easily remove the document from your Google Document list by clicking the checkbox  next to the document and clicking on the “trash” icon.  


**Just of word of caution, if you own the document and the document was shared with multiple people, those people will not longer have access to the document.  You will receive a notification at the top of your Google Docs indicating that they will no longer have access.

Stay tuned next week for tips on how to Search your Google Docs so that you can find your documents more quickly and easily!  In the meantime, check out our AEA 267 Google Apps Website for tips and tricks.  You’ll also find a list of upcoming workshops that are available in each of the AEA 267 offices.

If you have any quesitons, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the AEA 267 Google trainers:

Kay Schmalen (kschmalen@aea267.k12.ia,us)

Clair Judas (

Jon Kruse (

Dave Schaefer (

Brian Unruh (