Google Drive Essentials for Windows and Mac

What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a comprehensive virtual file management system that is employed by many schools and universities to collect and organize class materials. It is used in conjunction with Google editing platforms such as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, as Drive itself is storage focused.

To access Google Drive, type drive.google.com into your browser’s address bar. Note that there is also a desktop and mobile application, but this document focuses on the online or web browser client.



Google Drive Layout

After signing into your Google account, you will have access to your files. Make sure you use your school credentials if needed.

To start a new file, you can press the “new” button, located near the top of the page. This will bring up a combo box containing different options of file types, including docs, sheets, and slide show.

Continuing down the page from the new button, you will find a tree view of folders in your drive. Upon opening the tree view, you will find the following folder options:

  • My drive
  • Shared with me
  • Recent
  • Starred
  • Trash

Selecting one of these folders will direct you to a list of files in that folder. To access these files, press enter.

Drive also contains a handy “Quick Access” grouping, located beneath the main tree view. Here, you will find a vertical list of files in your drive, along with their specified file type. If the file you are looking for is readily available in this list, you can access it by pressing enter on the file name.

Note that Google Calendar is synchronized with Drive, and it can be viewed by selecting the “calendar” tab located at the bottom of the main page.



Helpful Keyboard Shortcuts

To access the full list of keyboard shortcuts directly from Drive, press control/command + /. We have included the most common ones here:

  • Press g then n to go to navigation panel (folders list)
  • Press shift_down arrow to extend selection down
  • Press shift_up arrow to extend selection up
  • Press shift+a to select all visible items
  • Press shift+t to create new document
  • Press shift+p to create new presentation
  • Press shift+s to create new spreadsheet
  • Press shift+f to create new folder
  • Press control+f (command+f for Mac) to find/find next
  • Press control+p (command+p for Mac) to print



Resources

The support button, located above “settings” near the top of the page contains a powerful help tool that offers topic-specific articles, frequently asked questions, and contact information to connect with the Google support team. Additionally, here are a couple other helpful links:

Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Drive

A Guide on Google Drive and Docs with JAWS from the Texas School for the Blind

A Guide to Using Google Drive and Docs with NVDA from the American Foundation for the Blind

A guide on Google Drive using Apple Voiceover from the Texas School for the Blind