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How to find which files are taking up the most storage space in Google Drive

If you're running low on Google Drive space, there's a quick and easy way to find out what files are taking up the most storage.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Man working at home using laptop stock photo
Edwin Tan/Getty Images

A few years ago, I had to up my Google Drive storage to 2 TB because I continually bumped up against the maximum space of a smaller cloud account. Since the increase, I haven't (yet) had to worry about Google Drive storage.

Also: The top cloud storage services

If you've not made the jump into the terabyte levels of storage on Google Drive, you might be having trouble with space. When you run into that issue, the first question might be, "What's using all of my storage?" Most likely, pictures and videos are the culprits. However, you might be surprised that, at some point during your work with Drive, you've uploaded larger files that continue to consume your storage space…until you delete them.

But how do you find out what's gobbling up all that space? 

Also: Google Drive has a new search filter to make it even easier to find your files

There's actually a simple method for uncovering that information -- and I'm going to show you how it's done.

How to locate the files taking up space (web version)

What you'll need: To do this, you'll need a valid Google account and a web browser. I'll first demonstrate on the web version of Google Drive and then demonstrate on the Android app.

1. Open Google Drive

The first thing to do is open your default web browser and point it to drive.google.com.

2. Open the Storage settings

On the left side of the window, you'll see the Storage entry just above Get More Storage. Click Storage to open the Storage viewer.

The Storage entry in the Google Drive menu.

You can quickly see how much storage you have remaining in Google Drive.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. List files by size

In the resulting window, the files should be listed by size, with the largest at the top. If not, click the Storage Used arrow until it's pointing down. You should now see the largest files saved to Google Drive.

A list of large files in Google Drive.

Just to be clear, the Irma Vep video is from a production I was in that was filmed a few years ago.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Deleting large files

To delete a file, you simply select it and then click the Trash icon near the top of the window. If you want to select multiple entries, hold the Shift key on your keyboard and select all you want. After making your selections, click the Trash icon and say goodbye to those large files taking up your space.

A file selected for deletion in Google Drive.

You can select as many files as you need to delete.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

How to locate the files taking up space (app version)

1. Open Storage

Open the Google Drive app on your mobile device and tap the three horizontal lines button near the top left. From the resulting menu, tap Storage.

The Google Drive menu on Android 13.

Another option is to buy more Google Drive storage.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Open the Storage Manager

On the resulting page, tap Clean Up Space at the bottom to open the Storage Manager.

The visual breakdown of what services are consuming the most space.

This section shows what services are taking up the most space.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Open the Large Files section

On the next screen, scroll down to Large Items and then swipe to the left until you see Large Files. Tap to open that section.

The Large Files section in Google Drive.

I could free up considerable space by deleting large files.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Delete those large files

To delete specific files, tap the associated circle for any file to be deleted and then tap the Trash icon that appears in the top right corner of the window.

Selecting files to be deleted in Google Drive.

Make sure to choose files to be deleted wisely.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

And that's all there is to locate and delete the larger files hanging out in your Google Drive account. Just make sure to not randomly delete files to reclaim space. Delete wisely, so you don't regret losing a particularly important file. 

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