For the Love of Shift+Z

Did you ever wonder if the term “Love-Hate Relationship” existed before computers?

I think it probably did. But I’m guessing it’s used a great deal more today.

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One of my favorite love-hate relationships is Google Drive. Even the name is confusing… wasn’t it Google Apps? Where do you plug in a Google Drive? How is that different from Google Docs? Is that the same as G Suite?

Explaining the difference (or lack thereof) to novice users is always frustrating. But the greatest source of frustration is the odd knack Google has for burying useful features under a keyboard shortcut. There are numerous examples, but today I decided to pick on Shift+Z. Or as it’s described in the Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Drive reference: Add selected items to an additional folder.

google-drive-copy-to-folderGmail users are probably familiar with the system of Labels they can use to organize their email. Labels in Gmail are similar to folders, except you can assign a message more than one. Folders are a single-minded method similar to… well, a folder in a file cabinet.

So when you look at Google Drive for the first time you might see a group of folders along the left-hand side. They look like folder, they act like folders and the interface even calls them folders. Which will leave a savvy Gmail wondering why the hell they didn’t use labels in Google Drive?!?

Well, they did. They just don’t call them labels.

You can assign a file multiple labels (folders) if you know the cleverly hidden Shift+Z trick.

If you’re wondering why anyone would do such a thing consider this example:

I have a bunch of articles about various fruits and vegetables that I decide to organize. To start I create one folder called Fruits and one called Vegetables. I drag and drop the various articles about Apples, Oranges and Strawberries into the Fruits folder. But when I get to the vegetables I’m stumped at Tomatoes. Which one does it belong in?

I can put it in both! Let’s suppose it’s in the Fruits folder right now. Click once to highlight the Tomato document (or multiple documents if necessary), then press the key combination Shift+ Z to see the Add dialog box. Click the arrow beside My Drive to navigate through your folders to find Vegetables. Click the Add link at the bottom and the file is now available in both places.

The great thing there here was no copy was made, nothing was moved. A placeholder for the Tomato file is shown in the Fruit and Vegetable folder that refers to the same file. Make an edit in one place and it’s shows up in both folders. But beware— delete either copy and you delete the file!

Need to remove it from one folder or the other? No problem. Just display the info pane on the right-hand side (click the little i in a circle icon) and click Details. Under Location you’ll see both folders, click the X to remove the file from that location.


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