MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 26, 2019: Google Drive logo and app on a home page. Google is an American multinational technology company that specializes on Internet services and products.
Image: dennizn/Adobe Stock

I am a Google Drive power user. I made Drive my primary cloud service as soon as it was released in 2012 and haven’t looked back since. Over that decade, I’ve probably written nearly 100 million words in Google Docs and collaborated with countless editors and other users on thousands of documents.

During those years, I’ve had to regularly search for documents within Drive, sometimes hunting for a piece written years ago, tucked away in some obscure folder that predates my current system of folder hierarchy.

Needless to say, Google Drive is my jam and I’m always looking for ways to make it more efficient. That’s why I’ve grown to depend on the search function found in Drive. It’s very similar to the search feature in Gmail and it has rarely let me down when I need to locate those hard-to-find documents and files in Drive.

The Drive search feature is far more powerful than you might think. Not only can it search for file names but even strings within the body of a document. So if you can’t remember the name of the document, but remember what it’s about, the Drive search feature is there to help you. The search feature is so powerful that it can even detect strings of characters within images. So if it’s in Drive, you can find it.

Let me show you how to make use of this incredibly powerful search feature in Google Drive.

SEE: iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users? (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What you’ll need

The only things you’ll need to follow along are a Google Workspaces account (this works with both the free and paid accounts) and some files saved in Drive. That’s it: Let’s hit this treasure hunt.

How to use the Drive search tool

Log into Google Workspaces

The first thing you must do is log into your Google Workspaces account. Once you’ve done that, go to Google Drive and you’re ready to search.

Open the search tool

In the search bar above the quick links (Figure A) you should see a Settings icon at the far right.

Figure A

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. Accessing the search tool in Google Drive.

If you type your search results in the field, chances are pretty good you’ll find what you’re looking for. However, if you have a large amount of data in Drive, you might want to narrow your search a bit. By doing this, the search will not only be faster, but it’ll also result in fewer found files, which should make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

Refine your search

Click the Settings icon to open the search filter tools. Once that opens (Figure B), you can narrow down your search.

Figure B

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. The search settings tool makes it easy to narrow down your query.

Here’s a description of each section in the Settings window:

  • Type: Select from the types of files you want to search, such as documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, video and audio.
  • Owner: Select from Anyone, Owned By Me, Not Owned By Me or Specific Person.
  • Has The Words: Type a string that will be used to search within the body of documents and files.
  • Item Name: Type a string that will be used to search for file names.
  • Location: Select from Anywhere, My Drive, Shared Drives, Shared With Me, In Trash, Starred or Encrypted.
  • Date Modified: Select from Any Time, Today, Yesterday, Last 7/30/90 days or Custom.
  • Approvals: Select from either Awaiting My Approval or Requested By Me.
  • Shared To: Type a name or email address of a person you’ve shared the file to.
  • Follow Up: Select from Any, Suggestions Only or Action Items Only.

If you only type a search string in the search file and hit Enter, that’s akin to typing the string in the Has The Words section and hitting SEARCH. However, if you want to refine your search, you can get fairly granular here.

Once you’ve filled out and/or selected your options, click SEARCH and you should see that file you’ve been looking for in the results.

And that, wonderful people, is how easy it is to refine your searches in Google Drive. When your Drive account holds a massive amount of data, using this search tool will make your life considerably easier (and your search results more actionable). Enjoy!

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