How to Find Files in Google Drive

By James T. Cains

After you’ve accumulated a whole bunch of files on your Google Drive, finding what you need can be challenging, especially if you want to repurpose that love letter you wrote to that certain someone a couple of years ago (just kidding!). Luckily, Google Drive puts its Search Drive box right at the top of your browser window for easy access.

Just like with the Google search engine, you see possible search results as soon as you start typing in the Search Drive box. The Search Drive box expands down to show the results, grouped by previous searches, Google app documents, and other documents (even Gmail items). You also have the option to search the Web for what you typed in.

Google Drive Search looks for the word or phrase you typed (and similarities) in both the document name and in the document content. So, if you don’t remember what you named a document but you remember what the document is about, you can still find it.

You can narrow your search by clicking the drop-down menu next to the Search Drive box (see Figure 1). Here are the options you have for refining your search:

  • File Type: You can search for a variety of different file types, such as documents, spreadsheets, presentations, videos, images and pictures, and PDFs.

  • Opens With: You can search for documents based on which Google app you open it with, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, My Maps, Drawings, and Forms.

  • Ownership: You can search for documents that are owned only by you, not owned by you, or owned by anyone. This comes in handy if you know for sure that you created the document.

    Figure 1: Refine your search.

    Figure 1: Refine your search.

Here are a few other ways to refine your searches:

  • Use quotes: Enclose your search word or phrase in quotation marks to find the exact word or phrase in the document. For example, pickup truck.

  • Use OR: To find a document that has at least one of the words in your search phrase, use OR. For example, cars OR trucks. Your results will include documents with either the word cars or the word trucks in it.

  • Use a minus sign: If you’re searching for a broad topic, but want to exclude certain words from the results, you can use a minus sign. For example, the phrase truck -pickup will give you results containing the word truck, but will exclude those results that include the word pickup.