A few weeks ago, I decided to rethink my Google Drive file management system. That very quickly turned out to be a huge mistake.

I’m not sure why I felt like my old system wasn’t working. Maybe my folder hierarchy didn’t make sense to me? Maybe the hierarchy was too deep and it took too many clicks to get to things. I’m not sure. So I decided to move things into different folders, and rename folders. The result? Muscle memory is taking over, and I am still trying to hover my mouse where old folders used to be – and end up opening the wrong thing.

Here’s my problem: I didn’t think about my user (me). I spend a lot of time talking to people about design and understanding user needs, and I jumped into redoing my filing system without thinking about what I actually need.

So, I’m starting over. Slowly and thoughtfully, I am going to rebuild my Google Drive from the ground up. I am going to document my process, in the hopes that someone else can get some ideas for their Google Drive – or ideas to share with students! – along the way. I hope you’ll join me.


When we create a new file in Google Drive, it is automatically called “Untitled [Document, Slideshow, Spreadsheet]” until we change it. How many times have you opened a slideshow or document to test something out, didn’t bother changing the name, and never returned to it? I’ll bet more times than you think. I was definitely surprised to find the number of Untitled items in my Drive.

In your Google Drive, click the Search bar at the top, and choose the blue Advanced Search link at the bottom.

In the Owner field, choose “Owned by me.” You don’t want to go accidentally deleting items someone else owns!

In the Item Name field, type UNTITLED. Case doesn’t matter, I just all-caps everything 🙂

Drive 1

Then, click the arrow in the Last Modified column. This will sort your drive so that those files that were modified longest ago are at the top – revealing just how old some of the things in your Drive really are! I had items in my Drive that were still Untitled and hadn’t been touched since 2013 and 2014. I don’t need those. I will never need those.

Drive 2

If you are nervous and just *need* to see the document one last time before deleting, click the Grid View icon in the top right corner to get a preview of the docs. Personally…that made me want to delete everything even more. I clicked the top row, scrolled for a while, then held the Shift key and clicked again. Then, I clicked delete.

Drive 3

Were there a few Untitled Docs that I spotted and wanted to keep? Sure. They got renamed and filed into the appropriate folder.

Ultimately, I deleted over 100 items in just a few minutes. I’ll call that a great first step in refreshing my Google Drive!

File Management Challenge!

Give this a try, and share with me on Twitter @sadieclorinda how many files you were able to get rid of in your Google Drive!

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