Google Drive – Adding versus Moving a file

One of the great things about Google Drive is that file organization is very flexible. Like Gmail, Drive uses a label method rather than a folder system. The big difference is that files can have many different labels, but really only one folder. This is made a bit more confusing because Google Drive calls those labels folders, but if you just think of them as labels then you’ll do fine.

This means that there is a big difference between Adding a file and Moving a file into a Google Drive folder. Each file in Google Drive has a unique identifying key associated with it. For example, below is the key for this Google Doc:Google Doc Key

This means that what you see in your Google Drive are not actually files, but rather pointers to the file. The file is only stored in one place on Google Drive, but you can point to it from more than one place. This is similar to the Shortcut system in Windows, but with Shortcuts the link is broken if the name or location of the original file changes. With Google Drive, since all files are identified using their key rather than their location, you can change the location of a file and the other links to it will still work.

If you want to have a file in more than one folder location, simply Ctrl-Click when moving the file. Then it will say that the file has been “added” to the new folder instead of “moved” to that new folder. See below:

To move a file, first select it and then click “More”, “Move to”. Then a map of your My Drive appears like above. Every time you Ctrl-Click a folder, you are adding a new location for that file. You can see which folders the file is located in with the checkmarks next to the folder names (). Or, you can simple click and drag the file. If you click and drag the file, you are moving it (it will say Move to when you hover over a folder). If you Ctrl-release the mouse drag, then you are adding the file (it will as Add to when you hover).