Google Drive: Introduction and Overview

Objectives and Overview

This lesson introduces Google Drive and provides a walkthrough of the interface.

Lesson Objectives

  • Access your Google Drive
  • Identify the uses and benefits of Google Drive
  • Identify key items in the Google Drive interface

What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a storage and organization tool. You’re given a generous amount of storage space for free, but if this isn’t enough space you’re able to pay more to upgrade. Files created with G Suite tools (such as documents, forms, spreadsheets, slide decks) are saved to your Google Drive. After creating a document, you can then easily and quickly share the document with others. This feature comes in handy when working in groups or when you are working with an instructor to plan a project or get feedback. Throughout this program, you’ll be discovering and practicing ways to organize your Google Drive to boost your productivity.

You can access files saved on your drive from any device as long as you’re logged in to your Google account. This allows you to save and access files as you need from anywhere you can connect to the Internet. You’ll be using Google Drive throughout the youth employment program, and probably a lot afterward as well!

Uses for Google Drive

Google Drive is one of the most useful, free tools out there. The primary use is to store files and access them across devices. Drive is also great for document organization. You’re also able to share files you save in your Drive. This makes Drive both an effective storage and collaboration tool.

Accessing Files Across Devices. Google provides a generous amount of storage (15 GB). You can use Drive to access files on multiple devices. To do this, log in to your Google account and access your Drive from any Internet-connected device.

For Storing Files. You can use your Drive to store important files or images. If you’re storing large files, you’ll hit the 15 GB limit pretty quickly. However, for documents and images, you’ll be able to store quite a lot.

Organizing Documents. Drive is flexible in how you organize your files. You can throw everything into your Drive, or you can create folder structures to keep organized. You can organize it however you like!

Sharing Files. Drive allows you to share files with people. This is really handy when you need to share a file that’s too large to send via email or direct message. This also allows for collaboration!

Google Drive Interface

You’ll be interacting with your Drive a lot throughout this program. This section provides a general overview of the main Drive interface. Once you’re logged in, you’ll see the main view. In these examples, there aren’t any files except the Getting Started PDF provided by Google. This area is where your files are shown:

Google Drive main view with a box drawn around the "Files" section.

The left sidebar has a lot of useful features. You can create files by clicking on the New button:

Google Drive main view with an arrow pointing to the "New" button in the left sidebar.

After clicking the New button, a menu pops up with options. You can create or upload files through this menu. You can experiment with this now, but it’ll be covered in more detail in the next lesson.

Google Drive main view with the options menu showing after clicking on the "New" button.

The Storage indicator is at the bottom of the sidebar. You’re able to see how much storage you’ve used and how much is left. Right now, this example shows a fresh Google Drive with 0 bytes used. This number changes as you add files. You have 15 GB available in the free plan. Google lets you know when you’re getting close to the limit.

Google Drive main view with a box drawn around the "Storage" indicator.

Once you add folders to your drive, they’ll show up in the My Drive dropdown in the sidebar. In this example, the folder Summer 2020 shows up in the sidebar:

Google Drive main view with a box drawn around the "My Drive" section in the sidebar.

You’re also able to search your Drive! This may not seem useful at first, but when you have hundreds (or thousands!) of documents, the search is helpful. The search bar is at the top of the main Drive view:

Google Drive main view with an arrow pointing to the "Search" input in the top toolbar.

You’re also able to change the way that this view looks. The default is a grid view, but you can switch it to a list view by clicking the grid icon in the top right of the Drive. Here’a gif showing how to toggle views:

Showing how to toggle the file view between list and grid.

Here’s an image showing the icon. Clicking this toggles between the grid and list views. Test out both views and see which you prefer!

Google Drive main view with an arrow pointing to the view toggle button.

What’s Next?

Once you’re comfortable with the interface, you’re ready to discover creating and uploading files! Don’t worry if this seems overwhelming at first, you’ll get lots of practice using the Drive!