5 cool Google Drive features you probably aren't using—yet

Power up your productivity with drag-and-drop uploads, quick creation links, and more.

driveaddons3 primary

Google Drive’s austere interface can trick you into thinking what you see is all you get. But it’s actually packed with powerful productivity features that aren’t immediately apparent. And we’ve gone back to uncover even more. Here are five you probably aren’t using, but should be.

Drag-and-drop files

Normally when you want to upload a file to Google Drive, you go hit the big red New button, select File upload, and then navigate the folders on your computer to grab the file you need.

drive drag and drop

To quickly upload files to Drive, drag them into the file list.

Here’s a simpler way: Just drag the file(s) from Windows Explorer or the MacOS finder into your Google Drive file list. Google’s drag-and-drop icon will appear and you’ll see a progress bar showing you the upload status.

Bookmark “quick creation” links

Here’s another shortcut, and one that doesn’t even require you to open Google Drive.

If you want to create a new word document, spreadsheet, or slideshow, you can do it from any browser window by using “quick creation” links. Drag the following links to your browser toolbar, and click the appropriate one whenever you want to start a new project:

Search by sender

Google’s collaboration capabilities probably have you working on a number of shared documents at any given time. But it can be hard to keep tabs on who sent you which doc, and what spreadsheet you’re working on with whom. Scrolling through hundreds of documents in the Shared with me folder isn’t an option when you’re in a hurry. At those times, type the collaborator’s name or email address in Drive’s search bar, and within seconds you’ll have a list of every document you’re collaborating on with that person.

Convert PDFs and images into text

While you’re probably taking advantage of Drive to store all kinds of files, you may not be aware you can use its built-in OCR technology to convert non-text documents like images and PDFs into editable text.

drive convert pdf

You can convert a PDF into editable text just by opening it as a Google Doc.

Right-click on the file you want to convert and select Open with > Google Docs. A new browser tab will open with the image or PDF within a document surrounded by a blue border with the raw text beneath it. Resize the blue border to capture only the text you want, then use any of Docs' tools to edit and format it. When you’re done, delete the original image/PDF from the tab and save the new text document.

Translate documents

drive translate document

Drive can translate a document into dozens of languages.

Given the global nature of business today, you may find yourself occasionally working with documents written in another language. You could cut and paste the text into the Google Translate web tool. But a better way is to upload it to Google Drive where you can translate and save it as a new document in your preferred language.

Once the document is uploaded, right-click it and select Open with > Google Docs. Once it’s open, go to the Tools menu and click Translate document. Choose a language from the dozens of options in the drop-down menu, click the translate button, and Voila! (That’s French for “there you are.”)

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.