How to Use Google Drive

Create, open, edit, and share files or folders

Google Drive and its family of apps are being used more and more in the creation of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. They're free to use, come with lots of storage, and are easily shareable. If you need a quick tutorial on the basics of navigating Google Drive and using its apps, look no further. Here's how to use Google Drive.

How to Use Google Drive to Open Files and Folders

Whether you created them or they were shared with you, your Google Drive comprisesof your collection of files and folders. In addition to allowing you to access files created within the Google Drive family of apps (Sheets, Docs, Drawings, etc.), your Drive opens a number of other file types such as PDFs, Microsoft Office files, photos, and videos, just to name a few.

How to Open a File in Google Drive

Access your Google Drive by going to drive.google.com and logging in to your Google account. Once you're logged in, you can open your desired file using one of two methods.

By Double-Clicking the File

The first method requires you to double-click the icon or name of the document in the My Drive page. Double-click your file, and it automatically opens in another tab, especially if it was a file created using one of the Google Drive apps.

If the file was not created within a Google Drive app, such as a photo, you can still open and view it by double-clicking it. For these types of files, however, it may not open in another tab. In fact, it will most likely open as a preview overlay within the tab you're already using.

By Right-Clicking the File

The second method involves opening files by right-clicking the icon of your desired file within the My Drive page. This method of opening files is best for files that weren't created within the Google Drive family of apps, such as videos, photos, or Microsoft Office files.

  1. Right-click the file icon to open a menu of options.

  2. Select Open with and then select the app with which you'd like to open the file.

    Path to open a Google Doc file
  3. The file should open either in another browser tab or within whichever app you selected to open the file.

Using the second method also allows you to open Google Drive files using the apps installed on your computer:

  1. Simply right-click the file icon in My Drive to open the menu of options.
  2. Select Open with, then select Apps on your Computer.
  3. You may be prompted to download a Drive app called Backup and Sync. Download it and follow the on-screen instructions to install it.
  4. After it's installed, you'll be able to open and edit your Google Drive files with your own desktop apps, and your edits will be saved on Drive.

How to Open a Folder on Google Drive

  1. Access your Google Drive by logging into your Google account located at drive.google.com.

  2. In the My Drive page of your Google Drive, locate and double-click the desired folder.

  3. Your folder's page should load and display its contents in the same browser tab you are using.

How to Use Google Drive to Create a Folder

Once you start amassing a large collection of files in your Drive, you'll need to find a way to organize them all. Creating folders in Google Drive is a great way to do that.

There are two ways to create a new folder in Google Drive. Here's how to do both.

Right-Clicking the White Space

The first way to create a new folder in Google Drive is to right-click the white space of the My Drive page to open a menu of options, then select New Folder.

Right-click menu showing New Folder

Using Google Drive's Menus

  1. Select New on the left side of the screen in Google Drive.

  2. Select Folder in the menu that appears.

  3. A dialog box pops up to prompt you to name your new folder. After you type a name, select Create to finish creating the new folder.

How to Share a Google Drive Folder

Sometimes you need to share your folders on Google Drive with other people. Here's how to do it.

  1. In the My Drive page, right-click the folder you want to share.

  2. In the menu that appears, select either Share or Get shareable link.

    Folder right-click menu showing Share option
  3. If you select Share, a dialog box pops up and prompts you to type in the names or email address of the people with whom you'd like to share your folder. Do so.

  4. Select the drop-down menu next to the text box. The menu's icon is a pencil. This drop-down menu allows you to choose which permissions you want to grant those who can access this folder and its files. Select Can organize, add, & edit, or View only.

  5. After you select the permissions, select Done to finish sharing the folder.

  6. If you select Get shareable link, a shareable link automatically populates and copies itself to your clipboard. When you're ready to share this link to your folder with someone, paste the link into an email, text, or social media DM to share your folder with others. This link automatically grants those people the permission to view your folder.

Creating a File: Google Sheets

Creating a file on Google Drive is the same regardless of which Google Drive app you're using. This example uses Google Sheets to explain how to create a file in Google Drive.

  1. Within the My Drive page on Google Drive, select New, located on the left side of the screen.

  2. From the menu that appears, select the right-arrow next to the Google Sheets option.

  3. Select either Blank spreadsheet or From a template in the small menu that opens.

    Opening a spreadsheet in Google Docs

After you choose which type of spreadsheet file you want to create, a new Google Sheets file opens in a separate tab.

Edit a File: Google Docs

As you create and work on your Google Drive files, you may need to edit them from time to time. Here's how to edit a Google Doc.

A screenshot showing how to edit an existing Google Docs document in Google Drive.
  1. Open an existing Google Doc from the My Drive page.
  2. Select to highlight the word or phrase you want to edit in the document.
  3. If you want to format the highlighted text, keep the text highlighted and select from the many formatting choices on the format toolbar located just above your document. You can adjust font size, font, text boldness, and more.
  4. If you want to remove or copy/paste the highlighted text, keep the text highlighted, then select Cut, Copy, or Paste from the Edit menu on the toolbar.

Alternatively, right-click the highlighted text to bring up a menu that has the same Cut, Copy, and Paste options. Keyboard shortcuts for Cut (Ctrl+X), Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste (Ctrl+V) also work once the text is highlighted.

How to Share Files on Google Drive: Google Slides

Once you've created a file on Google Drive, you may want to share it with others because they need to view important information or you'd like them to collaborate with you and help you edit it.

In any case, here's how to share a file on Google Drive.

For the purposes of these instructions, this example shows how to share a Google Slides file.

Start by opening a Google Slides file from the My Drive page in Google Drive. From there, you can access Google Drive's Share function via two ways:

Method One

  1. Select File, located in the top left corner of the screen.
  2. Select Share.
  3. A dialog box pops up and prompts you to enter the email addresses or names of the contacts with whom you want to share the Slides file.
  4. You can also choose which permissions you'd like to grant to your contacts. Select Can edit, Can comment, or Can view.
  5. Once you're ready to share, select Done.

Method Two

Select Share in the top right corner of the slide screen, which brings up the same dialog box mentioned in the first method. Follow the same steps as the above method to share your Slides file.

Google Slide with Share highlighted