Cloud

Four free upgrades that make Google Drive better

Kevin Purdy shares a few clever tricks and workarounds he uses to get more out of Google Drive.

Google Drive actually launched last week, giving every Google account holder, and every Apps system that enabled Drive, access to at least 5GB of storage space on their servers. You can sync files on Windows and Mac, browse and grab things from Android (with iOS apps to follow). You can even find text in scanned documents, and even identify photos with Google’s image recognition.

Feels like something’s missing, though, right? Google Drive, like most Google products, doesn’t do anywhere near everything people want it to do on first release. In the meantime, early adopters who can’t leave well enough alone have come up with some neat solutions and workarounds to some of Drive’s shortcomings. Here’s four that I’ve found.

Get much cheaper storage than Drive offers

Did you or your Google Apps administrator buy storage space from Google before Drive was released -  for your Gmail, Docs, or Picasa needs perhaps? If you did, you paid a ridiculous rate for it, starting with 20GB per year for $5. You can actually keep that space and use it for Drive, as long as you make sure your Google Checkout account is up to date with your credit card when it comes time to renew (or that your Apps administrator keeps everything in place). It’s cheaper than the standard Google Drive pricing, and you hardly have to do anything for it.

Instantly send Gmail attachments to Drive with a label

Automatic Gmail-to-Drive attachment sending is likely on its way from Google. In the meantime, check out Amit Agarwal’s crafty Apps Script trick, which flings the files from any Gmail message over to your Drive when you apply a label of your choosing.

In other words, for example, lets say you get a message with a 10MB PDF attached. Assuming you have Gmail keyboard shortcuts enabled (I really hope you do), you can tap "L," start typing in the word "Drive," then tap "Enter" to start saving that PDF to a more convenient space.

Examine exactly what you’ve got in Drive

Because Drive basically takes over from Docs, you start off in Drive with what’s likely a huge pile of stuff already there. Once you start syncing up heftier files and folders, it’s going to get even more crowded. There’s a great search bar, but what if you want to see exactly what’s taking up your Drive space?

Enter Spanning Stats for Google Drive, which provides a free analysis of your Drive usage in nice, easy to grasp radial charts. You’ll see how many huge PowerPoints with excessively large images are eating up your space, get an idea of duplicated data, and more. It’s an easy install for Apps users or a quick sign-in for Gmail/Google accounts.

Fax documents from inside Drive

Okay, so nobody really thought that Drive was missing a crucial faxing service. But it actually makes sense: you put things in Drive and share them with others specifically so you don’t have to fax things. Hook up Drive with HelloFax and you can push your digital documents through creaky analog phone lines. Personal, free accounts get up to five pages free, then 99 cents per page after that. If you need to fax more than that, perhaps the price isn’t your real issue.

What add-ons, hacks, and clever uses for Drive have you or your Apps team discovered?

About

Kevin Purdy is a freelance writer, a former editor at Lifehacker.com, and the author of The Complete Android Guide.

2 comments
vitec
vitec

We here at Hamilton College lost a lot of respect for Google when they started tracking & saving every ones data, We all Know they track, & save more than they say they Do! And even more We all know protecting our data must be a very low priority, because companies are forever loosing it!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you have a trick or workaround for Google Drive that makes the service work better for your Apps?