Google Docs: Managing Your Files

Lesson 5: Managing Your Files


Managing your files

After you've been using Google Drive for a while, you might find yourself having a difficult time keeping track of all of your files. Fortunately, Drive offers several features to help you manage and organize them. Watch the video below to learn more.

Searching for files

Searching lets you look for specific files using words contained within the file or file name. To do this, locate the search bar, then enter the word or file name you're looking for. A list of suggested searches and files will appear as you type. Simply click a file to open it directly from the search results. You can also press the Enter key to see a full list of search results.

searching for art club files

Sorting files

By default, your files are already sorted from newest to oldest. However, you can apply other sorts to put your files in a different order. To sort by name, click the Name button just above the list of files. To sort by date, click the Last modified button, then choose the desired sort option.

sorting by last opened by me

To apply a filter:

Filters let you hide unimportant files and focus only on the ones you're interested in. For example, if you were looking for a presentation, you could use a filter to narrow down your visible files so you would only see presentations.

  1. Locate and select the Search options arrow in the search bar.
    Google Drive search options.
  2. Choose the filter you want to use. In our example, we'll set a filter for file type.
    Choosing a filter.
  3. Choose the desired filter. In our example, we'll select Text documents.
    Choosing desired search filter.
  4. Click the Search button or press the Enter key to apply the filter.
    Search type documents.
  5. Only files that match the filter will appear.
    Document search results.

To clear a filter, select the text in search bar, then press the Backspace or Delete key.

Organizing your files

Once you start adding files to Google Drive, you can use folders to help organize and group them. Folders in Google Drive work just like the folders on your computer.

To create a folder:

  1. From Google Drive, click the New button, then select Folder from the drop-down menu.
    Creating a new folder.
  2. A dialog box will appear. Enter a name for your folder, then click Create.
    naming the folder Budget Proposals
  3. Your folder will appear on the left below My Drive. You may need to click the drop-down arrow to see your folders.
    Folder in Drive.

To move files into folders:

  1. Click and drag the file to the desired folder.
    Clicking and dragging file to folder.
  2. The file will appear in the selected folder.
    File moved to folder.

To add multiple files to the same folder, press and hold the Ctrl key (or Command on a Mac), then click to select each desired file. When you're ready, click and drag the files to the desired folder.

Selecting multiple files.

To delete a file:

Deleting a file from your Google Drive is similar to deleting a file from your computer. You will have to move the file to the Trash folder and then delete it permanently, just like you would delete a file from the Trash or Recycle Bin on your computer.

  1. Select the file you want to delete, then click the Remove button to move the file to the Trash folder.
    Deleting the Winter Budget spreadsheet
  2. Select Trash in the left navigation pane.
    navigating to trash
  3. The Trash folder will appear. Click Trash near the top of the screen, then select Empty Trash. The files will be permanently deleted.
    clicking Empty Trash button

To preview a file:

Previewing files is a great way to make sure you're opening the right version of a file or to take a quick look at files without opening them.

  1. Select the file you want to preview, then click the Preview button.
    clicking preview button
  2. A preview of the file will appear.
    viewing preview of art club document


Right-clicking allows you to access the full list of actions for any file. Most of the actions listed here are accessible in other places on Google Drive, but it serves as a great shortcut.

clicking Get Shareable Link in contextual menu

Practice with a project

Ready for an additional challenge? The following resource from Google will help you practice organizing and sharing files:

Applied Digital Skills: Organize Files in Drive: In this lesson, you'll learn how to use Google Drive to store, access, and share files such as documents, presentations, forms, and photos in one central place. The lesson takes 45-90 minutes to complete.


  1. Open our example file. Make sure you're signed in to Google, then click File > Make a copy. For now, do not rename the copy.
  2. Open Google Drive, create a folder, and name it Practice Documents.
  3. Locate our example file in your drive.
  4. Add our example file to the folder you created in step 2.
  5. Open the folder and preview the example file.
  6. Close the preview.
  7. When you're finished, your screen should look something like this:managing files challenge