Apps Script – Creating & sharing Class folders in Drive

Teachers using Drive often need to set up folders for their class and for their individual students. Doing it in Drive is not the most exciting job to do. So, to make your life easier, here’s a script, which will set up your folders for you. I’ve made it so there is a little bit of flexibility depending on what folders you need, but of course the beauty of having the script is that you can always tinker with it to meet your exact needs.

It will create a class folder in My Drive, a folder for each student, and if you want a separate classwork folder and a separate homework folder. It will share the class, classwork, and homework folders with all the students, but only share the individual folders with the specific students.

Class Folder Creator sheet

Here’s the Sheet that we will use to fill out the information required and to run from the script from.

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At the top, you add the class name, and then Y or N (yes or no), as to whether you want a classwork folder or homework folder or not.

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Underneath you add the students’ names and email addresses. These could easily be pasted in if you already have a list.

The code

Here are the main steps of the code:

  • The code will get the details entered on the Sheet and store them in the variables.
  • Then create the Class folder in My Drive.
  • Add the students as editors to that folder.
  • Check to see if you want a classwork folder or a homework one, and if so, create them.
  • Finally, it will create the individual student folders.

There are some similarities to the code I used in my post “Multiple folder maker“, so here, I will focus more on the new parts. Let’s look at it line by line:

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Lines 1 and 2: First we set up the function and get the Sheet.

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Line 5: We then get the sheet called “ClassFolders”.

Line 6: We get the class name we entered in cell B2. Here I’ve used the number of rows and columns, i.e. (2, 2). I could have in fact just used “B2” in the brackets.

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Line 9: Here we find out if the user wants a classwork folder or not by getting the value in cell B3, i.e. (3,2). We store it in the variable classwork.

Line 10: Similarly, we find out if the user wants a homework folder. We store this in the variable homework.

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Line 13: We get the row with the last student name and student email on it, which will the last row on the Sheet.

Line 14: Now we need to get the list of students. Here we start at row 6 and column 1 (A) and go down until the last row minus 5 (we don’t count the first 5 rows as we started on row 6), and we are just getting 1 column so we finish the range with a 1, then get the values in that range. We store these values in the variable studentsNames.

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Lines 17 and 18: We repeat the same for the students’ email addresses, which are in column 2 (B). We store these in the variable studentsEmails.

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Now we need to create the class folder.

Line 21: We’re going to create it in My Drive, so we use the DriveApp class followed by the createFolder() method.  Then we add the class name variable, className. Then we store this in the variable newFolder.

Line 22: We then get the ID of that new folder. Note, we could save a line of code here, by just adding .getId() on the end of line 21, like this:

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But, I’ll leave the steps in, so you can see what’s happening more clearly.

Line 23: Then we need to get that folder by its ID to be able to use it. We use getFolderById() to do so. Then we store it in the variable classFolder.

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Now, we add the students as editors of that folder. We do this by looping through the students’ emails and adding them one by one to the folder.

Line 26: We set up a simple for loop and continue it while its less than the number of email addresses (using the length of the array studentEmails).

Line 27: Each time we go around the loop, we want to add a student as an editor to the folder. We get the folder (classFolder) and use the addEditor() to add them. We use the variable s in square brackets to show where in the array we are. So, it will start in position 0 and continue to the end of the list.

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Now we want to see if the user wants to create a classwork folder and if so, create one in the class folder we recently created.

Line 31: We use an If statement to see if the classwork cell contains a “Y”.

Lines 32: This is similar to line 21, except here we’re going to create the folder not in My Drive but in the class folder. So, we get the classFolder variable and create the folder using that, and call it “Classwork”.

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Lines 36-38: We do exactly the same for the homework folder.

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Now we want to create the individual student folders. The folder creation is similar to before, except this time we will be looping down the list of student names previously stored in the variable studentsNames.

Line 41: We set up a for loop to go down the list of student names, using the i variable to track where we are in the list.

Line 43: We then create a folder in the class folder and name it with the current student name we are at in the loop. We do that by using studentsNames[i].

Lines 44-45: Then we get the ID of the student just created and get the folder by that ID.

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Now, we need to change the access rights for the student folders. As the student folders will be created in the class folder, they automatically assume the same access rights as the class folder. So, for each individual folder, we need to remove all the students except for the one who needs access to their personal folder. To do that we remove all the students as editors, then add the specific student.

Line 48: We set up a second loop, this time using the variable j to keep count. This will loop down the list of student emails.

Lines 49-50: Every time the loop goes around, it will remove a student email from being an editor of this folder. To do this we use the removeEditor() method and pass the studentsEmails variable to it. Then we close the j loop.

Lines 51-52: Then we need to add the student we want, who is the same as the student we created the folder for. So, we use addEditor() to add them and we use the i variable to identify which student it is. Then we close the i loop.

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Lines 55-56: Finally, I think it’s good to tell the user that the process has finished. So, here we display a toast message, using the toast method. Then in line 56 we close the function.

To run the code from a menu on the Sheet, I’ve also added this onOpen function (explained in previous posts):

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Running the code

Now let’s run an example with the information entered as below:

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Click on the “Folders” menu and then “Make & share class folders”.

The first time you’ll be asked to authorise the script, Just click the blue boxes.

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This will take about 10 seconds and once you see the toast message, we will see the new folder called “Maths 101″in our My Drive.

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Double-clicking on that, we can see the sub folders we have created. There are the classwork, homework, and student ones.

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If we look at the access rights the class folder has (and also the Classwork and Homework have), we’ll see it’s been shared with everyone on my little list. Note, as I included myself in the list of “students”, I’m both a student and owner of the folder.

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Looking at the access rights of the “Baz Roberts” folder we’ll see it’s only been shared with me (Barrie Roberts-the owner) and the student “Baz Roberts”.

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The students get an automatic invite to the class folder and an invite to their individual folder.

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Hopefully, this will save you some time and effort. You can make a copy of the file and code here. In the same file, I’ve included this script, and the ones from previous posts: file maker and folder maker.

Here’s the full code:

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eBooks available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, Slides, and Sheet Functions:

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Multiple FOLDER maker

Making multiple copies of folders in Google Drive is a slow, boring task. You select the folder you want, make a copy, then have to rename it, then repeat this again and again. Here you’ll learn how to create multiple folders and name them individually, really fast using Apps Script.

If you’ve already read my post “Multiple FILE maker”, then this code is essentially the same, just with two main differences, we use the methods getFolderbyId() and we use createFolder(). So, if you read it, you may want to skip through and just note the differences.

First, we have a Sheet where we will enter the details. There are three parts.


In cell A3 we type the fixed part of the folder name want, i.e. The part that is the same in all the newly-created folders.


In column B, we type the variable parts of the folder name, i.e. The parts we want to be unique in each folder.


Finally, in cell C3 we paste the full URL of the folder we want to put the new folders into.


We then choose ‘Make Multiple Folders’ from the Creator menu.


Here are the folders it made, all individually named:


Obviously, it works best when there are a lot of folders to make.


Let’s go through the code step-by-step:


Line 1: First, we set up our function, here I’ve called it makeFolders().

Line 4: Then, we get the current active spreadsheet, using getActiveSpreadsheet().

Line 5: Then, we get the active sheet, using getActiveSheet().

Line 6: Now, let’s get the fixed name. It’s in row 3, column 1 (I.e. A3), so in the getRange() method we add (3,1), then get its value using getValue().

Line 7: Now, we need the variable names. First, we need to get all the cells in the second column (B), from row 3 to the bottom row. We need to find out where the bottom row is, so here I’ve used getMaxRows() which gets the last row on the sheet, whether it has any values or not. I subtract 2, as we will be starting from row 3, so need to discount the first 2 rows.

Line 8: We use getRange() again, but this time we’re getting a series of values, so we need to tell it where to start and where to end. In the brackets we state: starting row, starting column, number of rows, number of columns. So, here we’re starting in row 3, column 2, down to the bottom row using the bottomRow variable, and we only want 1 column. Then we get all the values with getValues(), which will store them in the variableNames array variable.

Lines 10 to 22, are ways to check the user has entered information into the relevant cells. The program could work without them, but often it’s important to include some kind of checks to deal with users doing things that they shouldn’t, as invariably, they will always do something, that’s not expected or what in your mind wasn’t logical! Here I’m going to use some simple if statements to check that they’ve filled in the sheet correctly before running the program.


Line 11: First, I want to check that they’ve entered something into the fixed name cell. So, I’ve used an if statement to check if the variable fixedName is blank, using the double speech marks.

Line 12: If it is blank, I want it to show an alert message, telling the user it’s blank. To do so, we use getUI() and the type of message is an alert. Then in the brackets we add the text we want to display. Line 13 closes the if statement.


Line 16: Here I get the URL from cell C3 (row 3, column 3) and store it in the variable folderUrl.

Line 17: Then, I check if the variable folderUrl is empty.

Line 18: if it is empty, as before, I want to display an alert.

Now, I want to check that both fixedName AND fileUrl are NOT empty. If they aren’t empty it will run the rest of the code and make the copies, if one is empty, it won’t run the code. This means that if one of the alerts is shown above, it won’t run any code afterwards, making sure no copies are made by mistake.


Line 22: Here we first check if the fixedName isn’t equal to a blank. Then, use the double ampersands, which mean AND, to also check if the folderUrl isn’t blank. If they both aren’t empty it runs the following code.


Line 25: Now, we need the folder ID from the folder URL, in order to create folders in that folder. We use the match() method (more info here) and use some regex to extract just the ID part. Don’t worry about how this works exactly, but if you’re interested in the use of regular expressions, go to this page.

Line 27: Now, we use that ID stored in folderId, to get the folder by its ID, using the DriveApp class and the getFolderById() method, which basically, gets the folder we want to create folders in, then stores it in the variable getRootFolderId.

Now, we finally get to the point where we make the multiple folders. We’ll use a simple for loop for this. We want it to loop down column B making copies as it goes down, but then stop when it reaches an empty cell in that column, i.e.  The end of the list.


Line 31: I’ve set up a counter variable called n, and we’ll keep going down until we hit the bottom row.

Line 32: But to prevent it making files with no variable names, I’ve included an if statement to check to see if the current variable name is blank, using variableNames and the current array number in the square bracket. Remember this is looping down the array variable variableNames, so it’s going from zero to potentially the bottom row. If it does find a blank it breaks out of the loop, i.e. It doesn’t continue going through the array. Also, note the use of a double equals sign, not a triple one, as we are comparing an array value with something empty and they are not the same type, so a triple equals sign will fail.

Line 34: This is the line that creates the folders we want. We use the folder ID stored in the variable getRootFolderId we created in line 27. Then, use the createFolder() method and in the brackets state the name we want. Here, we’ll going to join the fixed name with the variable name). Line 35 closes the loop.


Line 36: Finally, just to tell the user the process has finished, I’ve added a toast message, which will pop up in the bottom right-hand corner, when the program has finished. Here it frees to the active Spreadsheet ss, then in the brackets contains 3 parts: message, title, number of seconds it will be displayed.

Line 37 and 38: This closes the if statement from line 22, and the function.

Adding a menu

To run the program from a menu in the spreadsheet, I’ve also added a separate script file called onOpen, which will add a little menu to run the code.

Line 1: Call the function onOpen(), so that it opens automatically every time the spreadsheet is opened.

Line 2: Get the active spreadsheet, note I’ve left a comma at the end not a semi-colon, as the next 2 lines are connected to it.

Lines 3-4: Set up a variable called menuItems to add the menu details. The keyword var isn’t needed here as it using the one from line 2. Then we set up an array with the sub-menu name and the function it will run. Carefully note the syntax used here.

Line 5: Now, we add the menu to the spreadsheet using the addMenu() method to the active spreadsheet. In the brackets, we include 2 parts: menu name, and the variable menuItems.


Here’s the link to the Sheet and code.

Here’s the complete code:


The regular expression in line 25 is from here: 

eBooks available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, Slides, and Sheet Functions:

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Google Drive – Previewing your files

If you have some PDFs, Microsoft files like Word, pictures, or other files which aren’t Google ones, Google Drive allows you to preview your file right within Drive.  This is useful if you want to view those documents without exiting Google Drive and having to open them in for example, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word, or some kind of image viewing program.

To do it is simple and from within the previewer, you have further options.

To open the preview of the file, just double-click on it and it opens automatically, as long as it isn’t a Google Doc, Google Sheet, etc. Below is an example of a PDF I opened.

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At the top you have various options.  Most of which you can access without actually opening the file, by right clicking on the file in your My Drive.  But it’s good that the key options are also available here.

The first options are:

Open with: open the file in an external application or a Google Add-on.

Printer symbol: Open the print dialogue box.

Arrow: Download the file to your computer.

Person+: Share the file

Three dots: Extra options

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Clicking on the three dots, gives you the options to move the file, star it for quick access, rename it, or to report any abuse of the file.

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On the right-hand side there are the more options:

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Magnifying glass: Allows you to zoom in and out of the document.

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(i): Opens information about the file (location, owner, etc)

Square with an arrow: “Pop-out” This opens the preview of the file in another tab.  Useful, if you want to continue working on other things in your Drive.

Cross: Closes the preview

Some tips

If you have PDFs which are bigger than 50Mb, they won’t open in the previewer. You’ll have to either compress them or download them to view them.

I also find that loading PDFs with a lot of pages can be very slow, so if you’re doing this, for example, in a classroom, make sure you allow yourself time for it to load before you show it.

On the side of each preview, you will see arrows, so you can flick through files that are in that particular folder.  This is quite useful with images as a quick way to show multiple ones.

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eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

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Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Drive – Finding your files

Once you’ve been using Google Drive for a while, I bet everyone’s had that moment where you ask yourself, “Now, where did I save that file??

Or if you’re organised like me, you end up with folders within folders within folders, so your files end up nicely hidden away in a folder structure that makes sense, but then ends up taking you ages to get to them.

Well, there’s better way and to be honest only recently have I seen the light!  We’re using a Google product, so it makes sense that there’s a powerful search engine built right into Drive.  It’s the bar sitting at the top of the screen, with the words “Search Drive” in it.

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Start typing in the box and Google will automatically start finding matches.  This means you don’t have to type the whole word, in this case I wanted to find the “Getting started” pdf and just by typing in “getting” it found it.

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It also doesn’t have to be the first word, so if you can’t remember the filename exactly, just type in the words you can remember and it should find it.

As soon as you click in the empty box, Drive offers you options to filter your search.  For example, you may already know it’s a PDF you’re looking for, so click on “PDFs” so that all the results Drive finds will be PDFs.

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If you click on the little triangle to the side of the box, you will open further options to filter your results.  These are particularly useful if you have a lot of files and folders on your Drive or maybe you’re trying to find multiple files and folders, for example, all the ones belonging to a particular person, that could be in different places.

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Shared with” I’ve found useful if you want to make sure you’ve removed all sharing access to a particular person.

Clicking on “Type” opens up more options to filter your search by.

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Clicking on “Date Modified” will open up various time options and the option to enter a specific time period yourself (in “Customised”).

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Clicking on “Owner” gives you options of filtering by the owner of the files.

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Located in” is limited but you can search your “Starred” filter or your “Bin”.

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Within the search box you can also use the same search tricks that you can use in Google’s main search engine.  The ones below are ones Google recommend:

Quotes “” Documents that contain an exact phrase.
Example:”match this phrase exactly”
OR Documents with at least one of the words.
Example:tacos OR nachos
Minus sign – Documents that exclude a word. So if you want “salsa,” but not “dancing,” use…
Example:salsa -dancing
Documents owned or shared by a specific person.
to: Documents you shared with someone.
is:starred Items marked with a star.
is:trashed Items that are trashed.
type: Search by the type of document: folder, document, spreadsheet, presentation, PDF, image, video, drawing, form, script, and table.


Find items that were edited before or after a certain day.
title: Search by title.
title:”Conference 2014″
app: Search for items that can be opened by a specific app.
app:”Google Docs”

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

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Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Drive – Getting the link to your file so you can share it

Sometimes you want to share your file or folder but not via the normal way of sharing within Google Apps.  For example, you may want to add a link to your file on a webpage, or in an email using something like Outlook. Fortunately, this is really easy to do.

1) Right click on your file or folder and click “Get link” from the menu.

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2) This brings up the link.  It’s highlighted automatically, so to copy it all you need to do is, hold down Ctrl then press C (Cmd C on a Mac) and it will be copied to your clipboard.

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To paste it where you want it, just hold down Ctrl then press V (Cmd V on a Mac).  This is the normal shortcut for copying and pasting things.

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Important: Sharing the link doesn’t automatically share access to that file.  If the file isn’t shared with anyone or is only shared with certain people, then anyone not on that list won’t be able to open it.  Google kindly reminds you of the sharing status, above the link.  In this case, “Only specific people can access this file”.

To add people or to change the sharing status to “Anyone with this link”, click on “Sharing settings” and this will open the “Share with others” dialogue box.  See my post on sharing files and folders, if you’re not sure about what to do.

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Alternative ways to get the link

Above the files area, you will see a chain symbol, click on that and the link will appear as before.

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Another way, is to open the document and copy the address from the browser.

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eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Drive – Downloading your files & folders

Sometimes you need a copy of your files in a place other than your Drive.  Google Drive provides some options to do this, each one depending on what it is that you’re downloading.

*Downloading non-Google files (e.g. Word docs, PDFs, mp3s, images)

Right click on the file you want.  Then click on “Download” from the menu.

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This will download a copy of the file to your computer.

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*Downloading Google files (e.g. Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides)

The process for downloading these is the same, expect for one key difference.  Google files don’t really exist as a normal ‘physical’ files like a Powerpoint document.  They live in the cloud on your Google Drive.  So, to get them back down to Earth, as it were, Google converts them into a Microsoft file.

Google Docs become Word documents; Google Sheets become Excel files; and Google Slides become Powerpoint slides

So, to download one, right click on the file you want.  Then click on “Download” from the menu.

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This will download a Microsoft-friendly version of the file to your computer.

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*Downloading a whole folder

If you’ve got a lot of files to download, one of the quickest ways is to download a whole folder.  This downloads the folder as a .zip file, i.e. all your files are put together in one convenient file.  Any Google files are automatically converted to Microsoft-friendly ones.

1) Right click on the folder you want and click “Download”.

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2) A pop-up window will appear showing you the zipping status.  For a few files this takes seconds.

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3) The .zip file is then downloaded to your computer.  Drive also adds the date it was downloaded to the filename.

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4) On your computer, double click the file to open the contents of the folder.

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5) In this example, Drive has converted my Google Docs to Word files (.docx).  It has also, downloaded the sub-folder (“Second level folder”) and its contents, that was in the folder I downloaded.

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*Downloading a file from within the file – More options!

The default download option detailed above, is to convert Google Apps into Microsoft files, but with a file open, you also have the option to download the file as other formats. Below are the options you can download your Google Apps as:

Google Slides > Powerpoint (.pptx), .pdf, Image files: .svg, .png, .jpg, or a text file .txt

Google Docs > Word (.docx), OpenDocument .odt, Rich Text Format.rtf, .pdf, .txt, .html zipped, EPUB publication (.epub)

Google Sheets > Excel (.xlsx), OpenDocument .ods, .pdf, .csv, .tsv, .zip

Probably the most useful is the option to download them as pdfs.

I will cover the options in greater detail in future posts, when I go through the individual Apps.

1) To do this just click on “File”.

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2)  Then click on “Download as”.  You will then see the various formats you can download as.  Just click on the one you want.

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Bear in mind, that downloading a document, will download that version of the document at that particular time, so any further changes to the original on your Google Drive, won’t be reflected in the downloaded version.

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Drive – Converting Microsoft docs to Google ones

If you’re like me, you may have lots of Word, Excel and Powerpoint files.  Whilst you can just upload those to your Google Drive, they do take up precious space on your Drive and Powerpoint files in particular, can be quite big files.  Converting them from Word to Google Docs, Excel to Google Sheets, and Powerpoint to Google Slides means they don’t take up any space.  Plus, you can edit and view on any computer and so don’t need programs like Word installed. Here’s how to do it:

1) Right click on the file you want.  This opens the menu.  Then click “Open with”, which opens a further menu, showing the programs you can open that file with.  The one you want to convert it to, will be at the top of the list, in this case “Google Slides”.

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2) In this case, click on “Google Slides”.  It will then convert the file, which will take a few seconds.  The newly created file will appear in a new menu.

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3) Back in your folder, you will see two files.  The original Microsoft document (in this case a Powerpoint document) and the new Google document (here a Google Slides file).

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Note: on the right of the screen, you can see the file sizes.  The Powerpoint one was 805Kb and the Google Slides one is zero.

Tip: Generally the conversions are good, but if your original files had a lot of formatting, links, etc, it’s a good idea to check the new document, to make sure it looks fine, as sometimes, things can go awry.

4) If you’re happy with the conversion, then you’ll probably want to delete the original file to save space.  Right click on the original file, and from the menu, click “Remove”.

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Remember, that will move it to your bin.  To remove it fully you will have to remove from your bin to save space on your Drive.  See the bottom of my post on managing files for details on how to delete files.

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Drive – Uploading files and folders

Google Drive is not just a place to store your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc but you can use it to store pretty much whatever file you want.  Uploading files is a piece of cake:

1) Click on the red ‘New’ button on the left hand side of the screen.

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2) This brings up the menu.  Then click on “File Upload”.

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3) This opens your file directory (this is the Mac view, but Windows is similar).  Find your file, click on it and then click “Open” in the bottom right-hand corner.

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You can upload multiple files at the same time.  Just select the ones you want then click “Open”.

4) A little uploading status pop-up window will appear.

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5) Drive will tell you when the upload has completed.  Just click the “X” on the right-hand side to close the status window.

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6) You will see your file in the folder you were in.

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You can upload files to different folders at the same time. If you’ve done this, you can locate the files in the folders by clicking on the green circle, which will change to a magnifying glass and state “locate in My Drive”.

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You can also drag a file from your file directory directly into Google Drive.  Just drag the file across onto your Drive and drop it (let go of the mouse).  The upload status window will then appear as above.

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On Google Chrome, it’s also possible to upload an entire folder, following the same steps above, but in step 2 choose “Folder upload” not “File upload”.

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eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Drive – Folders: 50 shades of grey

By default, all your folders are a lovely shade of grey.  Not the most exciting colour, but that can easily be changed and is useful for quickly identifying the folder you want.

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1) Right click on the folder you want to change.  This brings up the menu.

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2) Click on “Change colour” and this opens the palette of 24 colours.  Just click on the colour you want and it changes the colour of the folder.

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Note: if this is a shared folder, this doesn’t change the colour for those who also have access to it.

Tip: Colour folders in the same category the same colour.  This visually shows they are linked.

Tip2: If you select multiple folders, it will colour all of them at the same time.

eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)

Google Drive – Starring your files to find them quickly

You may have hundreds of files on your Google Drive, but if you’re like me, you end up using certain ones all the time.  To help you get to those files or folders quickly, Google Drive has the option to “star” them, so that they appear in the “Star” filter.  Here’s how to do it:

1) Right-click on the file or folder you want to star.

If you want to star multiple files or folders in the same folder, remember you can do that be select them either holding down Ctrl or Shift, selecting them and then right-clicking.

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2) Click on “Add star”.

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3) A little star will appear next to you files or folders.

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4) Go to the menu on the left-hand side of the screen and click “Starred”.

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Here you’ll find your starred files and folders for quick access.

If you want to remove them from this filter. Just right-click on a file or folder and click “Remove star”.

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eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)