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Google Drive is Google's challenge to Dropbox--a file storage system linked to your Google account and accessible via the Internet, so you can access your files from almost any device on-the-go. Drive is currently available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Android; it will be launched for iPad and iPhone shortly. Users are given 5 gigabytes (5GB) of free cloud storage to start; additional storage can be purchased for a small fee. Read this article to learn how to get started using Google Drive.

Use Google Drive

Setting Up Google Drive

Sign into Google Drive with your Google account at http://drive.google.com. If you're a Gmail user, you can use your Gmail account to sign in. There's a red sign-up button on the top right-hand corner of the login page if you don't have a Google account.

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Once you've launched Google Drive in your web browser, you will be taken to a page that shows all of the Google Documents you currently have associated with your Google account. A tab will pop up asking if you would like to download Google Drive for PC or Mac--whichever system you are currently on. Do so if you'd like to access your documents from more than your web browser. However, you don't have to use this option.

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Using Google Drive from a Web Browser

Create a new file by clicking on Create on the left-hand-side of your screen. This is an extension of Google Docs.

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Create a new folder by clicking on the gray folder icon above your list of Google Drive files. (It's diagonal from the "Create" button.)

Upload files from your computer clicking on the Upload icon (located to the right of the "Create" button). This will upload file(s) and/or folder(s) to Google's servers and will enable you to share them with various people of your choice. Alternatively, you may choose to keep some or all files private; for this option, you don't need to do anything other than create the document, since sharing is something you must activate for each file.

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Using the navigation bar on the left, view the files that people have shared with you, the files that have been starred by you, recent files and more options.

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The files that you have already uploaded to Google servers can be viewed in the center of the screen. The screen will show you many details, including its owner, its last modification, whether it has been shared with others, and file titles.

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When you check the box next to files, a menu will pop up allowing you to share, organize, delete, mark as (un)viewed, download, etc., for the selected files. This is where you can add a file to a folder, by clicking on the square box next to the relevant file, then clicking on the folder icon in the menu. A drop-down menu will appear of all your folders, and you can check the relevant folder.

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Clicking on the star next to a file will quickly allow you to star it––it will turn from clear to yellow. The benefit of stars is that the starred folders can all be viewed at once by clicking on the "Starred" heading in the navigation bar of Google Drive, hiding all unstarred

The navigation bar also allows you to see your files by "Activity", which brings the most recently edited files to the top of the list, whether worked on by you or by people you're sharing with.

To see all of your files and folders, click on "My Drive". This can be fairly daunting to search through if you have lots though! It's a good idea to place related files into folders as you go, to make searching easier.

 

On the right side, there's a horizontal menu bar at the top that will allow you to adjust your Google Drive settings. Many of them are accessible via the button with the wrench icon.

You can click "Sort" to change how your files are sorted (by title, last modified, last edited by me, last opened by me, etc.).

You can switch between "List" mode--where files are listed by name and information -- and "Grid" mode--where files are organized by thumbnail screenshots.

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You've now walked through the basics of how to use Google Drive. For help and/or more information, you can check out the Google Drive help page at https://support.google.com/drive/.

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