Google Drive

From Faster Than 20

Directory Organization


  • Consistent
  • Should be able to find and distinguish content by the names
  • Should be able to clearly understand who has access to files
  • Support laziness to the extent possible. Make things as simple as possible.

Be conscious of folder names when sharing to others. Prefixes, etc.

Faster Than 20 conventions:

  • YYYY-MM-DD dates so that they sort properly
  • Emojis as prefixes for certain types of files to visually separate them, help with sorting
    • 🌀— meetings logs
    • 🌿— design documents

Sharing Guidelines

Sharing in Google Drive is wonky, largely because of Google’s funky account management. You either need a Google account (Gmail, Google Apps, or otherwise) or a Google Profile in order to share files with an email address. People with multiple Google accounts often default to one (usually a Gmail address), because switching accounts is not intuitive.

The easiest way to deal with this is to change the Sharing settings to: “Anyone with the link can edit.” There are two problems with this setting. First, you won’t be able to track who’s editing what in the revision history. Second, well… anyone with the link can edit! If someone inadvertently shares the link with someone undesirable, that person will have full access to the document, and there’s no way of knowing this or tracking it.

The best way to deal with sharing permissions is to find out which Google account people tend to use for Google Drive access, and to make sure documents are shared with those addresses. Often, these addresses are not the same as people’s preferred work email addresses, so you’ll have to keep track of this.

Google recently added a feature to Gmail, where it checks to see if people have the appropriate access to a Google Document being shared before the email is sent, and prompts you to change the sharing permission if that’s not the case. The problem with this is that the document may be shared with people’s Google addresses, which may be different from their preferred work email. Furthermore, if you select “Yes” when prompted, Google will change the permissions of the document to, “Anyone with the link can edit,” which will create the problems described above. You’re better off not using this feature.

If you have a clear directory system with access permissions already set, you can move your file into these directories, and they will inherit those access permissions.

If you have private folders within shared folders, when you add names to the parent folders, they will be given access to the private folders as well. Just be sure to track your private folders and to remove access appropriately.

Future-Proofing Setup

Who should create a Google Drive folder? Turns out this question is more complicated than it might seem, especially if you want to future-proof this as much as possible. For example, here are two simple (and complicated) concerns that have often occurred after a project is complete:

Transferring ownership of folders / files. I usually want to hand off the content to the client by transferring ownership of all the files and folders. The problem is that Google Drive for gSuite won't let you transfer ownership to folks not in your domain. In other words, you can't transfer ownership, which means your client will always be using docs and folders you own, or that they'll need to create new copies of that content, which is doable but a pain.

Losing access to folders / files. At the same time, I also want to retain access (or at least copies) to my data. While you can't transfer ownership of a folder or file, folks with the right permissions can completely re-organize things and basically make it impossible for you to access this data. So you get the worst of both worlds.

I think the optimal scenario is to use the client's Team Drive to create folders and files, and when the project is complete, to make a complete copy of the data for yourself so you don't lose access. However, sometimes the client doesn't use Team Drive or even Google Drive at all. So you need to figure out some kind of phased transition plan, which adds work that the client won't necessarily appreciate, because it's about future-proofing.

Team Drive

Get started with Team Drives

Folders have shared ownership, files work the same way as they do in My Drive. This prevents transition problems when someone who owns a Google Drive folder leaves the team.

There are also some tradeoffs. While you can individually share files in a Team Drive, you can't do the same with folders. Members of a Team Drive have access to all folders.


To use the Faster Than 20 stylesheet, go into any of the Faster Than 20 templates, and select Format > Paragraph styles > Options > Save as my default styles.


Tool Constraints

Up to 100 people can edit and comment on a Google Doc at once.


Copy Folder

Enables you to make an exact copy of a folder and all its contents.


Automatically creates a private website as a way of making it easier to show and navigate your content. Really designed for intranets, and priced accordingly.

GSuite Marketplace page