When working with Google Drive for a while there is a tendency to place most of our documents in the main folder. This is just like placing all our documents on the desktop. We eventually need to begin organizing our documents into manageable folders. We can easily create folders by clicking the “Create” button and selecting the folder option.


In this lesson, we explore a situation that might be common and one that I recently encountered. I thought it would be a great opportunity to share one of the hidden gems in Google Drive. By the way, I found this out as a result of a mistake I made during a training.

There are times when we need to share documents with several users and we can easily do this with the share link option. When we have lots of documents to share with lots of people, the easiest way to do this is to create a folder and share the folder once with all the users. Once the folder is shared we can place anything in this folder and it is automatically available to everyone with permission to the folder. This is a common and simple example, but what we have to do in the real world is rarely this simple.

I get an error message when converting a Word Document to Google Docs.

Google Drive is usually very good a converting Word documents to Google Docs. There are very few instances where the conversion of these documents is prohibited. Here is a document that has several embedded images. These embedded images are preventing Google Drive from converting it to the Google Doc format.

word document in google drive

Documents created in Google cannot be viewed by anyone unless we decide to share them with others. When we want to share documents, Sheets or Slides, we need to set permissions. The permission options are the same for any Google Doc, Sheet or Slide. We can also set the permission for folders in the same way.

In this example, we have several documents inside a folder. To share a document in Drive, we’ll click once on the document.

several documents in google drive

The shareable link option is a good way to share documents with others without the need for them to have a Google account. We can easily stop sharing a link to a document with others just as easily as we shared the link. Before turning off sharing for a link, you should either replace it with another or inform those with access to the link that the link will no longer be available. If not, you’re likely to get lots of feedback about broken links.

In the open document, click the share button.

share button

Shareable links are a good way to share a document with those that don’t have a Google account. Recipients can view, edit or comment on documents without the need to have a Google account. When creating a shareable link we might have originally given the recipient edit or view only access to the document. We might have a need to change this permission later.

When we change the permission for documents with a shareable link, the same link will be used with the new permission. Keep in mind that this permission will be the same for anyone that has the link.

With a document open, click on the share button in the button bar.

share button

As we share and collaborate on documents, we might have the need to change the share permissions to documents. We might also need to remove share permissions from someone. With a document open, click on the share button in the button bar.

share link button

Google Drive provides a variety of ways to share documents with others, but some of these share options require the recipient to have a Google account before viewing or editing a shared document. Requiring a recipient to have a Google account may not be possible or may not always be convenient. Google Docs does provide a share option where the recipient does not need to have a Google account to view a shared document. In an open document, click the share button in the button bar.

Google Doc share button

Documents created in Google Drive can easily be shared with others as a final product. There are two ways we can share a document with others. We can grant others rights to edit a document or we can limit their access to viewing the document only. When we share documents with view rights, the document cannot be modified but can be copied or printed by the recipients. There are a couple of ways we can share documents. With a document open, click the blue share button in the button bar on the right side.

Doogle Doc share button

One of the advantages of using cloud services like Google, is the ability to effortlessly share documents. Documents can be shared for publication or collaboration. Before publishing documents we might need to collaborate with others in the development of a document. With Google docs we can collaborate on Docs, Sheets and slides.

To collaborate on a document it has to be shared. There are a couple of ways we can share documents for collaboration. With a document open we have a blue share button in the button bar on the right side. When we click on this button a share pane will open.

Google Doc share button

The apps launcher is always conveniently located so we can easily access any Google app. The arrangement of the app icons is a different story. We aren’t stuck with the way the apps are arranged. We can change them so they are conveniently arranged for the way we work. Click on the apps launcher.

Google apps launcher icon.

With the apps launcher open, click and drag one of the app icons. In this example I will drag the Drive icon to the top of the list. The other app icons will move aside to make room.

moved Google Drive icon to top row.

I’ll move some other apps around and arrange the launch menu for my needs and how I work best.

moved Google Docs icon to top row.


Working with Google documents can be done by anyone with a free Google account. However, there are times when we need to provide a version of a document in the traditional Microsoft Office format. In that case, we can easily convert Google Docs, Sheets or Slides into their Microsoft version.

In this example, we have a spreadsheet in the Google Sheets format.

Google Sheet document open.

To convert this spreadsheet into a Microsoft Excel document, click File in the menu.

File menu options.

Go down the list of menu items until you find the “Download as” option. There are several file formats we can convert this document into, but the one we want is listed first. Click on the Microsoft Excel format.

download as Microsoft Excel document.

The file will be converted to the Microsoft Excel and downloaded to your computer.

downloaded document in Chrome browser download bar.

We can repeat the same process with word processing documents. The option to convert the document to a Microsoft Word document is listed first in the “Download as” option.

download as Microsoft Word document.

Google slides can also be converted to Microsoft PowerPoint documents. Again, the option to convert this Google Slide to PowerPoint is the first one listed in the “Download as” option.

download as Microsoft PowerPoint document.

In these examples, we had the file open and used the option to convert and download the file from the File menu in each application.

We don’t need to open the document first before it can be converted and downloaded. In Drive, we can right-click on a file and click the download option from the contextual menu.

contextual menu download option.

When we choose to download the document using the contextual menu, Google will automatically select the appropriate Microsoft file format and download the file. In other words, we won’t get the other download options.

If we don’t like to right, click on the contextual menu, then we can use the actions menu in the Google Drive button bar and get the same download option.

actions menu download option.

When we use the actions menu to download the document, Google will automatically select the appropriate Microsoft format and download the document.

A benefit of using Google Drive and either the contextual menu or the actions menu to download files is that we can select multiple files to download and each will be converted and downloaded in the appropriate Microsoft document format. This means we can select a combination of docs, sheets and slides to download and they will automatically be converted and downloaded.

multiple documents selected and download option from contextual menu.


The Google apps launcher automatically includes some of the more commonly used apps. These apps include Google Drive and Docs. If we use Google Sheets or Slides regularly they are not easily found in our apps launcher. We can easily add these apps to our launcher. Click on the apps launcher.

Google apps launcher.

Colored folders can help provide a good visual for organizing folders and for finding folders. One of the ways I use colored folders is to color code them according to the stage in the process they represent. In this example, I have several folders and each provides information that is to be shared with a specific campus. Each folder has several documents inside. The folder color is updated as it nears completion.

In this example, folders that are empty or haven’t had any modifications to the documents inside are left at their default color. Folders in orange, mean they are currently being worked on and are in the process of being updated or haven’t been completed. Green folders indicate that any work on documents in the folder has been completed.

tiled view of several folders in Gogle Drive.

The easiest way to rename a Google Document like Docs, Sheets, or Slides is to click on the document name when it is open in edit mode. In this example, we have a spreadsheet that has been converted from Excel to Google Sheets. It still has the Excel extension.

spreadsheet file with Excel extension.

Renaming a folder is an easy process and one that I am often asked during training. I thought it would be a good idea to cover this process. Click on a folder once.

folder selected in Google Drive.