Google Drive is an “online hard drive” where Google Apps users store, file and share their documents online. It’s easy to use but to get the most out of it there are a couple of tips that really help.
1. Adding files to a shared folder
Google Drive has been designed from the ground up for sharing, or collaboration. But the way in which we share and organise our files is very different to the way we would organise them on a normal hard drive. This sometimes causes headaches for network admins and users alike.
The two most confusing changes are:
- Documents are owned by the user who created or uploaded the files by default
- Documents are shared and not copied into a file store.
This can cause issues when a business needs to remove a user who owns documents or when a colleague needs a document but is unsure of where it is filed. Often these items are often owned by another user in a folder shared with us.
This can make the process of collaboration cumbersome and slow. You want to keep files and folders handy while you need to work on them rather than having to search for it every time.
We can do this by adding the shared folder to our own Google Drive. In Google Drive Click, on the “Shared with me” menu item. A list of files and folders will show up. When you find the file or folder you require you can add it into “my Drive” by holding the Option key on a mac or the Ctrl key on a PC.
Although it looks like the folder is in a different place, you have simply created a link in your Google Drive to the shared location. Now you can add files and other folders you own to this shared folder.
2. Taking Google Drive offline
Google Apps users frequently want to take their created and shared documents offline and work on them where there is no internet coverage for example on road trips or flights.
Users need to have the Chrome browser to take Google Drive offline. When you are both logged into Google Drive and in Google Chrome
- Click More on the left-hand side of the screen.
- Select Offline Docs.
- Install the Documents app from the Chrome Web Store
- Once installed it takes you back to Google Drive. Select the “Enable offline” button.
3. Google Drive Sync
Google Drive Sync was released in the middle of 2012. It allows you to sync your Google Drive between your desktop PC (Mac or Windows PC). It also syncs almost any format from your PC to your Google Drive so you can access the file without being on the computer holding the original file.
Google Drive will sync files that are part of your “My Drive” folder to a Google Drive folder on your PC that is created when you install Google Drive.
The product is very similar to Dropbox and Box. Google Drive Sync is very quick, the storage can be upgraded quickly and relatively cheaply, it ties into the Google Apps ecosystem and it allows you to use these files with the other productivity apps in the suite like Gmail, Google Hangouts, and Google Sites.
4. Free QuickOffice for Google Apps for Business
Google acquired Quickoffice last year to gain knowledge and technology about converting Microsoft Office documents. They have used this acquisition to two ends.
Google gives it away for free to Google Apps for Business users on the App Store so they can view and edit Microsoft Office products on their iPad.
Google has also improved the quality of conversions from Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents into the equivalent Google Apps formats.
The quality of the file conversion has come a long way since this acquisition. A large majority of documents, when uploaded to Google Drive, are converted almost perfectly into the appropriate Google format.
5. Real-Time Applications
Google recently gave Google Drive the ability to connect to other online or cloud programs using a connector called an API (application programming interface). Programs can send information and update Google programs instantly.
Here are two programs that use Google’s Realtime API:
- Gantter is a free, web-based project management tool. When coupled with Google Drive Gantter allows multiple users to collaborate on a project plan at the same time. Gantter files can be stored on Google Drive and users can use Google Chat to further assist in productivity.
- Draw.io is a similar program which lets a team collaborate and chat while editing a drawing simultaneously. It is produced by the team behind LucidChart.