How to access and organize files faster in G Suite using Priority and Workspaces

Google Drive Priority suggests a short list of files you might find useful, while Workspaces lets you gather files from across Drive for fast access.

G Suite: What is it, and how can it benefit businesses?

If you use G Suite and Google Drive, you're likely familiar with at least two ways to access files on My Drive and Team Drives. When you know the location of a file, you navigate through the My Drive or Team Drive folder structure until you arrive at the file you need. When you don't know the location of a file, you enter keywords into the Google Drive search box, then review the returned results.

Google Drive Priority and Workspaces gives people who use G Suite two alternative ways to access and organize Drive files. The features are available to users of: G Suite Basic, Business, or Enterprise starting in March 2019. People who use other editions of G Suite will likely gain access to the features at a later date.

SEE: Google Drive: Tips and tricks for business professionals (Tech Pro Research)

Google Drive Priority is a good example of Google's AI systems put to practical use: "Here are files we think you want," the system suggests. Similarly, when you create a Workspace, the system may suggest files to add: "Add these files too?" it asks. Together, Priority and Workspaces should help people access relevant files faster.

Google Drive Priority

The files on the Priority page represent Google's best attempt to serve as a smart assistant. Priority shows files that Google's system rates as relevant for recent or upcoming work, such as: Files you've opened or edited recently, files shared with you that someone else edited, or files that might be related to an upcoming meeting.

In a web browser, the files display in a horizontal row (Figure A). On a Chromebook with a screen set to 1920 x 1080 resolution, the system displays six files that can be viewed at-a-glance, with another four files that can be accessed by scrolling through the suggested files horizontally.

Figure A

Screenshot of Google Drive on the web with Priority (recommended files) and Workplace features displayed

The Google Drive Priority page, available to many G Suite customers now, in a web browser. Priority shows you files the system rates as relevant for your work, while Workspaces let you gather groups of items from Drive into a Workspace.

The Google Drive Android and iOS apps present Priority files in a list that can be scrolled through vertically (Figure B).

Figure B

Screenshots from Android (Priority, on the left); and iOS (Workspace, on the right), within their respective Google Drive apps.

Priority and Workspaces are both available in the Google Drive app on mobile devices, too. Priority files are shown above on Android (left), while a Workspace with files is shown on iOS (right).

People who use Google Cloud Search--either on the web, at, or in the Cloud Search mobile apps for Android or iOS--might experience similar functionality. The primary Cloud Search screen offers files you've recently accessed and/or files associated with upcoming meetings, as the system suggests that you might Pick Up Where You Left Off or Prepare For An Upcoming Meeting.

Google Drive Workspaces

A Workspace on Drive consists of a set of files you choose--these files may be any items stored on My Drive or on any Team Drive to which you have access (Figure C). My tests indicate that you may add up to 25 files to a Workspace.

Figure C

Screenshot of Workspace "Add files" screen, with four Google Docs already added.

A Workspace gives you a way to group items to which you have access from My Drive or Team Drives: Create a Workspace, then add files.

When you create a Workspace, you name it. You may rename, hide, or remove a Workspace at any time. Important note: When you remove a Workspace, the files remain--only the Workspace goes away (Figure D).

Figure D

Screenshot showing right-click on Workspace options, showing rename, hide, and remove options.

You may rename, hide, or remove any Workspace that you have created. When you create a Workspace--and after you remove a Workspace--the items remain available in their original locations.

Workspaces potentially solve two important issues. First, a Workspace provides a way for you to gather any assortment of files together. For example, you might create a Workspace for a project where you need to refer to a budget, a prior year project description, and a planning document from a different project. No need to move all of those files into a new folder. Instead, create a Workspace for fast access to the entire set.

The second issue that a Workspace might help with is Chrome tab management, especially on desktop or laptop systems. Some people keep a tab open for every active project document. Without Workspaces, that makes sense, as it takes time to navigate or search for project files. However, now it makes sense to create a Workspace and add project files. When you need a project file, open the Workspace to access the file quickly.

Your practices?

If you use G Suite, have you found the Priority files list useful? If you use Workspaces, how do you use that feature? Have you found that Workspaces lets you work with groups of files in different ways than you could before? If so, how? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

Also see

Drawing of Google Drive logo at top, with Priority icon (a square with a check in it) below on the left, and the Workspaces icon (three small circles, arranged in a triangle) below on the right
Image: TechRepublic/Andy Wolber