Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

New Google Drive: Saving a Document in Multiple Folders

New Google Drive: Saving a Document in Multiple Folders

Shift Z

Moving one file into multiple folders is a hidden feature of Google Drive. It’s a bit of a paradigm shift because unlike paper you are not putting your files in actual folders in a filing cabinet. You are actually giving it a label disguised as a folder icon. The document is NOT copied when it is in multiple folders. It is the same document with multiple labels.

Move to a Folder

Click once on a file to select the file in Google Drive. The more icon looks like 3 dots along the top of the files. It is located next to the trash can icon. Selecting the more icon gives you the option to move the file into a folder.
more icon

Choose the folder you want to move the file into.

Go to the Folder

Find the file you just moved to the folder. Select the file by clicking on it.

Shift Z

Hold down the shift key and strike the Z key. Notice you are now given the option to “Add to” instead of move. You an add the file to a second folder. Repeat with shift Z to add to additional folders.
Add to

57 thoughts on “New Google Drive: Saving a Document in Multiple Folders

  1. This is great, thanks for the help. But in the old google drive, you could add one documents to multiple folders all at the same time. Do you think they will eliminate this feature?

  2. Thanks for the heads up, Alice. Until I got into the new drive this was a little confusing. Once in there, it’s clear as day.

    I wish Google handt changed this so much; I am not a fan of having to do this many steps to put things in multiple folders. I put my files in 2 or 3 folders regularly, this will be an impediment.

  3. I just figured out that, from the Docs List, you can also ctrl + drag into each additional folder you want to add the file to. Still more cumbersome than in the prior version, or from the open doc, but it can be a little quicker depending on your preference.

  4. I also noticed that, if you want to organize what folders a file is in, the old interface is still available when viewing the document opened in its own tab/window (using the little folder icon to the right of the file name).

      1. Can’t see that famous folder icon when I view a pdf or a png. when I view, I have a black background, and on top from left to right I see an icon for the file type, then the name, then in the middle, “open with” and some other icons, none of which looks like a folder.

        Why did they change the way it worked, I fail to see the benefit…

  5. I am really not happy about this change. They have made it worse in several ways.

    First of all, you cannot put a folder into multiple folders simultaneously – as you have stated, you have to do it one by one.

    Secondly, the old Drive showed whether folders you were looking at were also in other folders. You could see it in plan sight. With the new Drive, you are “blind” – only when you click on a folder and open its information box do you see if it is also in other folders.

  6. Thanks for finding and publishing these workarounds. I too regularly put files in multiple folders and have really been struggling. Sticking my head in the sand and using the old interface doesn’t work any more. I can no longer select multiple files in order to add them to a folder when some or other of them are already in different folder combinations.

  7. Thanks for the tip.
    How can I move a folder, not a file, in several folders?
    Background: Someone shared a folder containing a subfolder. This subfolder I would like to move into a different folder in my drive without disturbing the shared folder.

      1. The ctrl+drag method works with folders too; so you can have a folder exist in multiple places. I don’t know if it being a shared sub-folder is why you said no though.

        1. If you want a file or folder under multiple folders you have to repeat the process for each parent folder. Either using shift+z or ctrl+drag (i.e. you have to drag it one time for each parent). On the old drive this process was easier.

  8. I could only get your method to work early on in August right after the change over, but I figured out another work around too where you can do both folders and documents:
    1. Select the file or folder you would like to have in multiple locations or use the Command option to select more than one file or folder
    2. Then hold down the Option Key while dragging the file(s)/folder(s) to the additional locations
    3. If you click on the 3 vertical dots that give you more options, click on the “i” (view details); you should be able to view now the multiple locations that the file/folder is in. If you want to delete it from one folder, just click on the “x” next to the corresponding folder

  9. We have a PBL project at our school where students from 3 different classes are collaborating in shared folders different students assigned to different folders. Our team used SHIFT + Z to copy a set of empty subfolders into the multiple project folders to create the stucture for the students. It appeared as though it worked great. Then, I added 1 document to 1 of the subfolders, and it added it to all of the folders. Then, when I deleted it, it deleted it from all, so it behaves as though it makes LINKED copies. Do you know if there is a way to copy documents or folders into multiple locations without them being linked?

      1. And what about deleting a file which is stored in several folders. Is there a way of NOT deleting it from all places just one of the folders?

        1. Yes, go to the file and click on the file folder icon in the top left. Hold down ctrl on a PC or Command on a Mac and uncheck the folder you want to remove it from.

          1. Sorry but I don’t get it and I consider myself as a quite experienced drive user. Where is the file folder icon? What does it look like? I have tried all icons there are and nowhere comes a list where I can uncheck folders.

            Is there a mismatch between languages of Google drive? Or revisions of the interface?

  10. Thanks! I was at wit’s end trying to figure out how to do this. However, you can call up the “Add to” menu at once by selecting a file and then pressing shift-Z: there is no need to move the file somewhere else first!

  11. Thank you!!! I rely on using multiple folders for files and reverted back from the new Drive because of this. Your instructions and the feedback from others is a godsend!

  12. @John ~ thanks for sharing that tip. If you try to MOVE first the shift Z doesn’t seem to work anymore. It appears that you have to select a document or folder and just hit Shift Z now. phew… i got scared for a minute.

  13. As of 11/18/2014 this Shift Z method did not work for me at all in the New Drive version using Firefox or Chrome on Mac OSX.

    I was able to grab and drag folders from one folder to another folder on the right side of the docs view by holding down the option key (no other keys) I got a white + symbol on a green circle, which allowed me to add folders to other folders, and when I added files it updated all the folders. So I can add folders to multiple places, but just not as described above.

    Not sure why my version is different.

  14. Just wondering if anyone has figured out how to unselect a file out of multiple places once it has been added there? I agree that this is not a very Googley upgrade.

    1. Sure, open the file and click on the file folder icon next to the document title. Hold down Control on a PC and click on the selected folder to UNSELECT.

  15. HI! I am wondering if anyone knows how to do this: how to make one edit on one document in one folder so it shows up on another document in another folder in google drive

  16. I use Google Chrome and the Shift Z doesn’t work. What are my options and is there an alternative to shift z like there is an alternative to copy and paste where you click on the screen instead of using the keys?

    1. I use shift Z all the time. In the new Google Drive I single click on a file or folder and hold down shift and strike the Z key. It asks me to add it to a folder. Not sure why it would not work for you.

    2. I had the same problem as you and was ripping my hair off. But alas! I found out why and how now!
      The shift-Z thing must be done outside the Move-To dialogue, not inside it.
      After selecting a file in GDrive you can choose keyboard shortcut “Z” to bring up the “Move-to” dialogue, and “shift-Z” to bring up the “Add-to” dialogue.
      Like Magic. Undocumented? No it is all there when I look up “shortcuts” in the GDrive online help. No shame, just happy. =)

  17. I Alice ! I wonder, once you “add to” a document, it seems like you can’t delete the added document anymore without deleting the document at his “original location”. Have you found out how to go back to only one location ? Wish my question is clear enough ! 😉

  18. I need to change the format of the doc from gdoc to a word doc. I am trying to upload my resume on some job site and they are not excepting the google drive format

  19. Thanks for the great information. I have a problem I don’t see here – I have folders that are shared with multiple folders, and now I want to “unshare” them one from just one of those folders it appears in. I can use Shift Z to “Add to” yet another folder, but I can’t find a way to remove a folder from just one foler or a screen for organizing like the one for files (where you can select which folders you want a filed shared with from a hierarchy). Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  20. I’m working with files that are in a folder I own and then using shift-z to put them in a shared folder. My question is: If the owner of the shared folder (not me) deletes the folder, but I am the owner of the files that I put in the folder, Will it affect the files in my own personal folder?

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