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Drive (Documents)


This page contains User Guidelines for working with Google Drive.

Learn directly from Google:  Drive About and Drive Help.

Documents / Drive name ambiguity

Google has used the term 'Document(s)' to mean several things, and this has evolved during 2012.
  • Initially all storage and file editing tools were a part of the 'Documents' service
  • In the summer 2012, Google introduced the term 'Drive' as the service name for storing files in your Google account.  Google also introduced an optional computer app that can sync your Google account Drive files with a folder on your computer.
  • Furthermore, Documents (or Docs) refers to Google's suite of file editing tools that include five elements: Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Drawing and Forms (n.b. one of tools is also named 'Document').
This help guide shall use these terms:
  • Drive = Storage of files and folders within a Google account.
  • Documents = file editing tool suite (Google's web version of Microsoft Office) which includes a word processing tool, Document.


Google Drive provides file storage in the cloud.  It can be used for individual files and you can use folders and sub-folders to organize files.  Key features:
  • Stores files
  • Folders can be used to organize files
  • Share to individuals, groups, public, etc.
  • Permissions can be 'View' (read-only), 'Edit', and 'Comments' (for some file/app types, may comment but not edit).
  • Capacity of 25GB per account shared with Gmail and Google+
  • App (optional) to sync a folder on your computer with your Google Drive
  • Video - Google recommends using Drive to share videos within Google Apps (for consistent use of permissions, but beware of each account's 25GB capacity).  Some users may prefer using YouTube for video posting/sharing.
You may be familiar with cloud-based file storage services from other companies like Box, DropBox, or Microsoft OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) that each have their own characteristics.  One strength of Google Drive is that it's integrated into your Google Account and Google Apps services.

Documents (Docs)

This is the suite of file editing tools that can be used to create and edit documents online (is sometimes used in place of Microsoft Office applications, and provides file format conversions to and from MS Office formats).  The tools are:
  • Document (word processing)
  • Spreadsheet
  • Presentation
  • Drawing
  • Forms
This site does NOT provide any help or support with using these tools.  Please utilize Google Drive Help resources, some are listed at the bottom of this page.


The organization (ORG) has deployed this service in the following specific manner to address our requirements.  Drive folders shared by organization activities will follow a naming convention to facilitate keeping things organized. 
  • Activity folders names have this format:  'ORG-<Activity-name>-<purpose>'   For example:  ORG-Chorus-Members
Activities typically have the following sub-folder structure:
  • ORG-Demo 
    • ORG-Demo-Public  - for publicly accessible files
    • ORG-Demo-Members - limit access to members of the main group, such as theater cast - e.g., cast lists, script, sign up sheets
    • ORG-Demo-Team - limit access to members of the leadership team group - e.g., private management files
We've setup folder with suitable sharing permissions, which are inherited by any files added.  Therefore people simply need to add files to to right folder for them to have the correct permissions.

Getting Started


If permissions for this service are restricted such that only specified individuals or groups can access the content, then you must have a Google Account and must be logged into the account to access the content.  Refer to User Help -> Accounts for help with account options.

Some of our folders will be public, while others will have restricted access.

Initial Setup

To use Google Drive via you browser, there is no setup required.

Add the ORG folder to your Google Drive

RECOMMENDED:  If you have a Google Account and will be accessing the organization's files regularly, you can add the root folder to your Google Drive's 'My Drive' folder. This will make it easier for you to find and access files. Follow these steps:
  1. Sign on to your Google Account
  2. Click this URL to open the root ORG folder: (check the organization's website files page, or ask the system administrator for a link to this folder)
  3. Click on the 'Add to Drive' button in the upper right of the new screen.
  4. Click on the 'View in Drive' button in the upper right to view the files in your Google Drive.
Note: adding the ORG folders to your Google Drive does NOT count towards your Google Drive storage quota.

Computer Google Drive App

Google offers an application that you can install on your computer (Windows or Mac) to synchronize a local folder '~/Google Drive' with the Google Drive folder in your Google Account.  While this can be very handy for some users, and this may be useful for you to use if you are the owner/manager of ORG activities, there may be some drawbacks for ORG uses.  One limitation is that the Google Drive Application can only work with a single Google Account at any time.

To setup the Google Drive Application, follow the instructions on either of these sites:

Smartphone Google Drive App

Google offers a Google Drive App for smartphones (Android, iOS…) that provides access to a user's Google Drive files, and includes applications for editing and using the files (think edit documents and spreadsheets, give presentations, etc.).

To get started, from your smartphone, go to your respective 'App Store' (Android: Play Store), search for 'Google Drive', and install.  Then launch Google Drive and sign into your Google account.


We are a fairly standard user of Google Drive.  If Drive is new for you and you're looking for a general tutorial, take a look at Drive About Tour and Drive Help pages.

A Quick overview:  
  • Access your drive files at which looks like a filesystem comprised of folders and subfolders.  
  • Your files are organized in 'My Drive' folder.  
  • Items shared with you initially appear in the 'Shared with me' folder.
  • Move files to other folders (including taking items from 'Shared with me' and organizing them in your 'My Drive' area using 'Move to…'.
  • Click on a file to view it or open it in the respective cloud application (Documents, Spreadsheet).  
  • Depending on your permissions to each file, you'll be able to 1) edit 2) comment, or 3) view only.  
  • Permissions are set using the 'Share' button and can be set to 'view', 'comment' and 'edit' and you can add individuals and groups (using email addresses), and can choose to share with the world/public or keep files private).  
  • Rename files - please select good names; especially if you're sharing files with others since it's renamed for everyone.
  • Duplicate files - such as when you need to copy last year's file to start on this year's activity.
  • Download files from Drive to your computer (Google Document formats convert into Microsoft Office formats).  
  • Upload files from your computer to Google Drive - it is as simple as dragging the file into the Browser window for Google Drive.  
  • Multiple people may simultaneously edit files in Google's native file formats (Documents, Spreadsheets).  
  • When you delete, items go into your 'Trash' (and you can't items that you don't have permission to delete).
  • To send someone a link to a file, click on the 'Share' button and use that URL.
  • Google Drive files are easily embedded into webpages.

In addition to accessing files via a computer or smartphone browser, there are Google Drive applications for smartphones which allow you to manage and edit your files.

Visit the Manager-Help/Drive page for discussion of tasks commonly performed by managers.

Downloading Files

Most Google Drive files that are shared with you may be downloaded.  This is typically done using the 'Download' button in Viewer, or the 'File -> Download' command in one of the Google Apps (Documents...).

Can't Download or Print

There are some cases where you will not be able to download or print a file that you can view.  This can occur when the owner/editor of the file has marked it to 'Prevent Viewers from Downloading' as a security measure.  This can apply to non-native Google file formats, such as PDF, Microsoft Office formats, etc.  Note files that are in native Google formats - Documents, Spreadsheet, Presentation are always downloadable to viewers.

Learn More

Here are some links to Google Help and Learning for this service:
Additional Google Apps help and learning resources are listed on our Google Apps Help page.