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How to find files faster in Google Drive

If you frequently find yourself searching through Google Drive, make use of this handy trick to make the task more efficient.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
Woman with headphones in working on laptop
Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images

I consider myself a Google Workspace power user. 

I'm in Google Drive, Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Calendar all day, so I have to ensure my workflow is as efficient as possible. 

One task I often have to do is search through Drive for specific files. 

Also: How to organize your Google Drive with these 5 tips

Given I have about a decade's worth of files in Drive, it can sometimes be a chore to find what I'm looking for -- at least it would be if it weren't for Google Drive's search feature.

One thing to keep in mind is that of all the things Google does, its search capabilities are off-the-charts. That not only applies to online searches with google.com but also within the Google lineup of cloud services. 

You can hop into Google Drive, type a search string, and find what you're looking for. But when you need to find things even faster, there's a handy trick you can use. 

Also: This might be my new favorite web browser

One thing of note: The reason why I call it quick search (all lowercase) is because I don't know if Google even has a name for the feature. Ergo… quick search.

Let me show you.

How to do a quick search for a file in Google Drive 


The only things you'll need for this are a valid Google account and files saved in Google Drive (preferably enough files and folders to justify using the search feature). With those things at the ready, let's get our search on.

1. Log into Google Drive

Open your default web browser and point it to drive.google.com. 

Also: How to automatically convert Google Drive uploads to Docs format

If you're not already logged into your Google account, do so now.

2. Access the quick search feature

Locate the folder in which you want to search, right-click it, and select Search within X (where X is the name of the folder to be searched).

The Google Drive right-click context menu.

Right-click any folder in Google Drive and you should see a similar entry in the menu.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Fine-tune your search

In the resulting window, you can fine-tune your search by selecting different options from the available drop-downs. For instance, from the File type drop-down, you can select from a number of options, including Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Forms, Photos and Images, PDFs, Videos, Shortcuts, Folders, Sites, Audio, Drawings, or Archives. 

Also: How to use Lists in Google Drive for more efficient task management

From the People drop-down, you can select from anyone in your contact list. From Last modified, you can select from Today, Last 7 days, Last 30 days, This year, Last year, or a custom date range. The To Do drop-down allows you to select from Approvals, Follow ups, or Ownership transfers.

As you refine the search, the results will automatically populate in the window, where you can open the file you were looking for.

The Google quick search refinement toolbar.

Refining a search in Google Drive.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

This quick search feature can really save you time, especially if you have a number of folders on Google Drive that contain large amounts of files. Don't settle for the basic Search feature when you can get more targeted results without too much hassle.

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