Chapter 8: Docs List

Table of contents


Navigation panel

Looking through your Documents List

The details pane

Keyboard shortcuts

Finding and using your files and documents

Finding your items in the doc list

Searching PDFs

More menu

Viewing your images

Play your video files in Google Docs

Finding your hidden documents, files, and collections


Creating and editing collections

Adding items to a collection

Sharing Collections

Deleting a Collection

Uploading and exporting

Uploading multiple versions of files that aren't in Google Docs format

Uploading and converting PDF and image files with text to Google Docs

Saving to your computer

Converting uploaded files to Google Doc format

Uploading Folders

Google Docs storage

Free Google Docs storage

Purchasing additional storage

Google Apps storage


Navigation panel

These links will help you find your documents easily:

Home: Will show you all your files and docs, except those in the Trash. If you'd like to hide an item from this list, right-click the item and select the option Don't show in home.

Starred: Shows you only items that you’ve marked with a star.

All Items: This view displays all your items, including those you've hidden from the home view, but excluding those in the Trash.

Trash: Includes all the items in the trash. Note: you can move only items that you own to the trash. For items you don't own, you can select Remove from my Documents List from the Actions menu.

My collections: This view shows collections that you've created to keep related items together. To create a collection, click Create new, select Collection, and then drag any item from your Documents List into the new collection. (Learn more about collections)

Collections shared with me: Displays collections that have been shared with you. (Collections that are shared through a mailing list will not show up here.)

Looking through your Documents List

You can use search box at the top of your Documents List to browse or search for your items by document type.

For example, click Images or Videos to see only these types of files, preview images, or play your videos.

Under More options you’ll find additional filters:

Organize your results with the Sort by option in the top right. Sort your results by Last modified, Last opened by me, Title, Storage used, and Priority. 

Next to each document title, you can see whether or not the document is shared and which collection it's in.

The details pane

When you select a file by clicking anywhere in a row, you have the option to obtain more information in the details pane by clicking the View icon.

Here, you can see a preview of your document and its title, the date when you last viewed it, and when and by whom it was last modified. If it is a document you have uploaded and not converted to a Google Docs format, then you can also view the versions of the file.

From this pane, you can also change certain settings for the document, such as collections it's associated with, sharing settings, and a description of the file.

If you’ve selected a video, then you can even preview it directly in the details pane.

You can open a document by clicking its title, and select it by clicking anywhere else in the row. Select multiple items by pressing the Ctrl (PC) or Command (Mac) key and clicking the items. Selecting an individual item will display the details pane where you can view and modify important file information.

For more information, visit the interactive docs list.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts help you easily navigate your documents list without a mouse. For example, when selecting a document, use the  (down arrow) to move down the list and the (up arrow) to move back up. Once you find the item you're looking for, type a to open the Actions menu. Then, use the  and  arrow keys to navigate the Actions menu, and hit to select an action.

The Create new shortcuts are also convenient for creating new docs while you’re working. Simply hit Shift + T to create a new text document, Shift + S to create a spreadsheet, or Shift + C to create a new collection.

Can't remember all those shortcuts? Just remember the question mark. Type ? when you’re not in the search bar, and a window will appear showing all available shortcuts.

You can also find a full list of all the keyboard shortcuts for your Documents list here.

Finding and using your files and documents

Finding your items in the doc list

There are different ways to find your files and documents in your Documents List:

The search box: Type your search terms

Enter your terms in the search box at the top of your Documents List, and click the Search button to search across all your items. The drop-down arrow also lets you search through multiple Google Docs templates or across your domain if you use Google Apps.

Using filters

Click a selection under Type, Visibility or Ownership to further filter your items with options like PDF files, spreadsheets, and images. Once you’ve selected a document type, a corresponding blue box appears in the search box. Type in a word or use search operators to find your item in the selected document category.

Sort your search results: Reorder your items

Your list of documents is sorted automatically by priority based on several factors including how often you open and modify a document. You can reorder your documents by using the Sort by option at the top right.

The details view: Viewing additional information about your items

If you’d like to see more details about each of your documents for advanced file management, select the Details icon.

In the Details view, you can find this information in each row:

If you select the Images or Videos filter, you'll also see a thumbnail preview in the Details pane.

Don’t forget that you can close the details pane on the right if you want to have more space. Just click the arrows in the top right of the pane to open or close it.

Search operators: Search by specific characteristics

Search operators also work to refine your query when searching your Google Docs list. The following is a list of the operators along with examples.

Left-hand navigation pane

The links in the navigation pane can help you find your documents easily.

Searching PDFs

To search for a term in a PDF:

  1. Open the PDF from your Docs list.
  2. Select File -> Search the Document (or Command+F on Mac or Ctrl + F on PC). Type the words you're looking for in the search box that appears in the upper right corner of the PDF viewer.

  3. Click Go.

The words you're looking for should appear highlighted in yellow throughout the PDF.

Viewed vs. unviewed

When someone makes changes to a document, the item appears in bold in your Documents List. If you open and close the item, it no longer appears in bold. If you'd like to keep it in bold (so you can find it more easily, for example), click anywhere in the row other than the title, and select Mark as unviewed from the More menu.

New items

Items that someone has shared with you, but you haven't opened yet, are marked with bold text.

More menu

When you point your mouse to an item, the More drop-down menu appears. From this menu, you can change the sharing settings of an item, rename it, export it, add it to a collection (organize), and more.

Viewing your images

When you click the Images or Videos in the filter menu, you'll see thumbnails of your files; the small images can help you see all of your content without having to click each file.


Point your mouse to a photo to see a magnifying glass in the bottom right.

Click it to open the photo in an image viewer. From here you can easily view all the photos you’ve uploaded. If you'd like to view photos located in a collection only, select a collection from the left navigation. Organize your results with the Sort option in the top right. Sort your results by Last modified, Last opened by me, Title, Storage used, and Priority.


After you select Images, you can type a search operator and keyword in the search box at the top to search within your images only. For example, to find an image that your student, Micah, uploaded and shared with you, type "owner:Micah." Read more on searching for your files.

Sharing and downloading

Select the Details icon to open the photo's details page where you can share, download, and manage versions of the photo. You can also share photos directly from the Actions menu or the details pane.

File types

You can upload and view these image file types: .jpeg, png, .gif, .tiff, .bmp

Play your video files in Google Docs

All of your uploaded videos can be found with the Videos filter, where you'll see thumbnails of your files; the small images can help you see all of your content without having to click each file.

How to play a video and find information about the file

Once you've uploaded your video to Google Docs, you can watch it with the Google Docs video player. Simply click the file from your Documents List, and the video opens in a new page that includes a video player.

On the page that opens, you can also view the revision history and prevent downloads under the File menu. You can download previous versions of the file, but you can’t view these versions in the player. If you'd like to play one of the older versions, you need to delete the more recent versions and wait for it to be processed.

Files that you can play

Uploaded video files can be up to 1 GB. These are the most common video formats that you can upload and play:

Tips and notes

Finding your hidden documents, files, and collections

If you've hidden an item from your Documents List using the Don't show in home option, the item won't appear in Home, even when you search for it while the Home view is selected.

To find your item, you need to first select All items from the left navigation menu (below Home), and then either look for the item in the list or search for it. Learn how to search for your items in your Documents List.

If you'd like to restore your file or document to the Home view, follow these steps:

  1. Select the item by clicking anywhere in the row, except the title.
  2. Click the More drop-down menu.
  3. Select Show in home.


Creating and editing collections

Collections are a combination of the best features of labels and folders. A file can have multiple collections, much like the labels in Gmail. Collections can also be stored hierarchically, like folders on your desktop. In addition, collections can be shared.

Creating a collection

To create a collection, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Create button at the top left of your Documents List.
  2. Select Collection from the drop-down menu.
  3. In the screen that appears, place your cursor over the field labeled New Collections and enter a name.

The collection you created now appears in both the My collections section on your left, and in your Documents List. If you want to create a second collection inside the first, then use the drop-down arrow to the right of your collection and select New > Collection.

Additional options

Brighten up your Documents List by adding some color to your collections. Select the collection and choose Change color.

Adding items to a collection

To add items to a collection you have several options:

Once either of these steps is taken, your items will show up in the collection you selected. Note, also, that it's possible to assign a single file to multiple collections. You can see all your docs, regardless of the collection you put them in, by clicking on All items.

Sharing Collections

Sharing collections is a great way to quickly share a variety of files with the same person or group. In the classroom, you can share collections with students, other teachers, administrators, and even parents. To create a collection, first select collection from the Create drop-down menu.

Enter a name for your collection and click Ok.

To add items to your shared collections, you can drag each doc from your Documents List to the collection. You can also use Ctrl (PC) or Command (Mac) to select multiple items and use Organize in the More menu.

Sharing a collection with someone is an easy way to give someone access to the items within your collection. Just click My collections in the navigation pane on the left of your docs, select the collection you'd like to share, click Share from the drop-down menu, and select Sharing settings.

At the bottom of the 'Sharing settings' window, under 'Add people,' type the email addresses of anyone you'd like to share the collection with. (For more information about the various sharing settings please visit our section about sharing.)

Note: When you share a collection, the new permissions are pushed to all collections and docs within the main collection. Normally this happens quickly, but occasionally, it could take a couple of minutes.

Here's an example of how access permissions work with shared collections:

Say that I create a document and share it with my student, Matthew, and then add it to collection1. If I then share collection1 with Jennifer, the document will be shared with both Julian and Camille. (Read more FAQs about shared collections)

Collections others share with you will appear in the main pane of your Documents List. Only collections shared directly to your email will appear here. If a collection was shared with you through a mailing list, you will need to click the link in the email first.

Deleting a Collection

Use the drop-down arrow next to a collection’s name and select Move to trash from the options. When you place a collection in the Trash, all items in that collection will also be moved to Trash. Items that are in multiple collections will not be moved to Trash.

If you want to recover the collection, visit Trash in the navigation pane on the left. From there, select the collection in question, and select Restore from the menu options. The collection will be restored to your My collections list, and will contain any items that had been stored in the collection.

Click Empty Trash to delete all of the items in it forever.

You can also select individual items and click Delete forever to purge them from your Trash.

Uploading and exporting

Uploading multiple versions of files that aren't in Google Docs format

You can upload different versions of the same file to your Documents List and easily keep track of them by selecting the Add or manage versions... option (or View versions... if you have viewing permission only).

This feature lets you upload new versions of a file, as well as download previous versions of it, and delete older versions. It makes it easier overall to collaborate on a file with other people.

Important: This feature is available for uploaded files that are not in Google Docs format. For Google Docs documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, you can use the revision history, which lets you see all the different versions of a doc.

To upload a new version of your file, right-click it and select Add or manage versions.... You can also select the file and go to the More drop-down menu to find this option. You'll see this dialog box:

Here's what you can do once you've clicked Add or manage versions...:

File details page

You can also view and download previous versions of a file by accessing the file’s details page. To get there, select the file in your Documents List and then select the Details icon.

On the right hand side of the page, you’ll see all the previous versions of the file under Versions.

Sharing settings

Only the owner or editors can upload a new version of a file or delete prior versions. Those with view access can download all versions of a file, but cannot upload new versions or delete older ones. If you want to contact the owner of a file to request edit rights, you can see who the owner is by looking at the details pane for the item.

Uploading and converting PDF and image files with text to Google Docs

Optical Character Recognition

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) lets you convert images with text into text documents using automated computer algorithms. Images can be processed individually (.jpg, .png, and .gif files) or in multi-page PDF documents (.pdf). These are some of the types of files suitable for OCR:

Using OCR in Google Docs

For best results, the uploaded image or PDF files need to meet certain requirements:

File size limitations

The maximum size for images (.jpg, .gif, .png) and PDF files (.pdf) is 2 MB. For PDF files, only first 10 pages are scanned when searching for text to extract.

Preservation of text formatting

When processing your document, an attempt is made to preserve basic text formatting such as bold and italic text, font size and type, and line breaks. However, detecting these elements is difficult and may not always succeed. Other text formatting and structuring elements such as bulleted and numbered lists, tables, text columns, and footnotes or endnotes are likely to get lost.

Saving to your computer

From the Documents List

You can select either individual files or multiple files at once to download:

Then, choose a format for downloading the item. When multiple items are selected, they'll be compressed into a .zip file.

Sometimes it takes us a few minutes to export large number of files, so instead of making you wait, we can email you when the file is ready. Simply click the Email when ready button after selecting the file types.

If you try to export more than 2 GB, you'll see a message with a list of files that aren't included in the zip file. If you request to get an email when the file is ready, the email you receive will include a list of any files that aren't included in the zip file.

While viewing a Google Doc

When viewing a Google Docs Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation or Drawing, click Download as from the File menu, and select a format.

The available formats are:

Note: When you export a file, some of your original formatting may not be preserved.

Restrict access to downloading files

It is now possible to restrict the download of non-Google editor file types in Google Docs. This restriction can be applied to .ppt, .pdf, video, and image files for example.

To restrict a file from being downloaded by viewers:

  1. Select the file that you want to restrict, select the More menu and choose Prevent viewers from downloading.
  2. Alternatively, right-click a document in the docslist and select Prevent viewers from downloading from the menu options.

Converting uploaded files to Google Doc format

You can decide to convert a file to Google Docs while you upload it or after uploading it:

These are the file types that can be converted to Google Docs:

Uploading Folders

Uploading a folder can save you the time and hassle of uploading individual files from your computer to Google Docs. When you upload a folder, you'll also save the time it takes you to organize your files and documents into collections. You can upload one or more folders to the Documents List at a time. Individual files within that folder will be uploaded, and subfolder structure will be maintained.

For example, let's say you have a folder on your desktop called "Lesson Plans." Within this folder, you have sub-folders named "Language Arts," "Mathematics," “Social Studies”, and "Science," each containing ten documents. When you upload the "Lesson Plans" folder to Google Docs, each of the sub-folders and the documents within them will also be uploaded in the same structure.

Your upload settings will also apply to folders that you upload. If you've opted to convert your files to Google Docs format, all files in a supported format and file size will be converted.

Upload a folder using Google Chrome

  1. Click the Upload button and select Folder...
  1. Select one or more folders to upload. All files and sub-folders within that folder will also be uploaded.
  2. A box that indicates the progress of your folder upload, as well as a list of the files being uploaded, appears in the bottom right of your Documents List.
  3. When you're done with your upload you can click the link to open the uploaded folder in your Documents List or close the box by clicking the x in the upper right of the box.

Upload a folder using a browser other than Chrome

If you're working in a browser other than Chrome, you'll need to enable Java in your browser and install an applet in order to upload folders to Google Docs.

  1. Enable Java in your browser.
  2. Confirm that Java is enabled by visiting the Java test page.
  3. Install the Java applet.

You'll need to enable folder upload in these browsers each time you visit your Documents List.

Google Docs storage

Free Google Docs storage

When users upload files or folders to Google Docs, they take up storage space in your account. Google Docs gives every user 1GB of free storage for their Google Account, and users can purchase additional storage for $0.25 per GB.

If you hit the maximum storage limit, you won't be able to upload any additional files. You'll still have access to all of the files you uploaded up until that point.

Here's more information about what file types count toward the maximum storage limit:

Purchasing additional storage

Google offers a way to purchase more storage space when you run out of free storage space in Google Docs. You can purchase additional storage at any time, and this additional storage is shared among Google Docs, Picasa, Gmail, and Blogger.

Google Apps storage

Individual Google Apps users are able to purchase storage if their domain administrator enables the User Managed Storage setting in the Apps Control Panel. However, an individual Google Apps user's purchased storage will not apply to Gmail storage. Learn more about Google Apps storage.