These days, Google Drive is where work (and personal files) live. Even if you haven’t fully embraced #paperless living yet, it’s likely that your files live online. 


And it’s clear why we love it. With Google Drive, it’s easy to share and collaborate. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your hard drive combusting and erasing 6 months of work.


The days of long banks of filing cabinets neatly housing an organization’s documents are long gone. But without a team of admins to keep your digital files organized, how do you avoid Google Drive chaos?


We’re here to share an often overlooked Google Drive feature that can help make it easier to find your files and decrease your digital clutter: Google Drive Tags.

Check out how to use Google Drive tags to declutter your digital life and get organized!

What is a Google Drive Tag?


You can think about a tag as a keyword that you attach to a specific file or folder within your Google Drive. 

Why would you want to use tags? Well, it can help to understand how Google Drive works.  

While you may picture a strict file hierarchy, with folders nesting inside one another, Google actually functions more like a database. Google Drive therefore has more flexibility and speed than other digital storage solutions… But also the potential for chaos.


At the heart of tagging in metadata. Google Drive metadata tags are a way for Google to look at information about your files and folders and it offers another way to think about tagging your content within Google Drive.


You can find and edit the metadata for any Google Drive file or folder by opening up the information panel. Click the small “i” symbol in the top left of your main Google toolbar, then click on any file or folder to bring up its metadata.  Within this panel, you can enter your metadata tags into the “Add a description” field.

In the example above, you can see that we’ve added two tags to the metadata description of the file, using hashtags and separating them by a comma. 


When you want to search for a certain type of document, you can simply use Google Drive’s powerful search function to pull up all the documents you’ve tagged.

Now, let’s look at some best practices for tagging your content. Here are seven tips to organize your Google Drive using tags.


1. Decide on your tag levels and sub-levels

Your first step is to think about the “order of operations” for your tags. For example, you’ll likely have some broad categories at the top level, e.g. finance, admin, client names, etc. 

Then within each category, you’ll have subcategories e.g. finance may include reports, tax info, reconciliation, etc. You’ll set up folders to act as your tags, with the subcategories nestling as subfolders inside the top level categories. 

2. Create a consistent naming system

As you’re setting up your tag categories, make sure you create a consistent naming system for your tags. For example, decide if you want to use the plural or singular for your tags (e.g. tax vs taxes) or how you want dates to appear. Deciding and maintaining a consistent naming system will make it easier to find what you’re looking for later. 

3. Add file status as part of your tagging system

When you’re working as part of a team, there are often multiple versions of a document floating around, in various stages of completion. But there’s nothing worse than a colleague grabbing your draft version and taking it to a meeting… instead of the version that you’d got approved by the higher ups. 

Adding adjectives such as “working,” “final,” or “do not use” can help avoid these issues, as well as help you stay on top of your priority items. 

4. Be brief

It’s best to use two words or less for each tag you set up. Longer tag names will get too granular and specific, and ultimately may not help you find the broad categories you’re looking for. 

So, for example, avoid tags such as “summer 2021 tax reports.” Instead set up your tag system as “summer 2021” > “tax reports” 

5. Color code your tag folders

Most of us are highly visual. Adding a color code to your tagging system can make it even easier to find what you’re looking for. You can easily color code folders in Google Drive by right clicking the folder and then selecting change color. 


We recommend saving color coding for your highest order categories. While Google Drive offers up to 24 different shades, adding a unique color to each tag may quickly become overwhelming and hard to remember. This is meant to help your organization, not make things feel more chaotic! 


Remember to be consistent with your color code in the same way you are with your naming system. If you always use purple for “marketing” your brain will quickly learn to make a link between purple and marketing. 

6. Don’t forget that you can tag your folders, too

Did you know you can tag folders using shortcuts? Tagging folders can be particularly useful if you have access to a lot of shared folders. Simply create a shortcut to the place that makes sense in your system, and then you’ll have quick access to the folders you need, from a place where you know to go looking for it. 


To do this, click on any file or folder and hit “Shift + Z.” This will then allow you to tag your file to any other file or folder in your Google Drive, including shared folders. With this process, you essentially set up your folders as “tags” for your content, but because you can share the same file (not a copy) to multiple folders, it means you can tag a file or folder with as many tags as you want.  


And because you’re adding a shortcut to the “master copy” of the file, not making a copy of the document, this is a failsafe way to tag shared files and avoid version control issues. 

7. Eliminate the grunt work and add #tags with Charli

Reality check: Are you groaning inside at the thought of actioning these 6 tips? Not gonna lie, there’s a lot of manual labor involved. Sure, the outcomes will be amazing, but in today’s tech-driven world, there’s got to be a better way.


That’s where our last tip comes into play. If you want to organize your Google Drive like a pro, leave the grunt work to Charli.

Charli is an AI-powered content assistant that makes it super simple to tag and organize your Google Drive content — from docs, to spreadsheets, to photos and more. 


Simply send your content to Charli with whatever #tags come to mind or, better yet, let Charli scan your content and auto-tag it for you. Because Charli is built with AI, it learns your content and makes smart suggestions on how it should be tagged — making organization a breeze. 


Think of Charli like an #IRL assistant who knows exactly how to file and find your content on your Google Drive. No more manual tagging or complex systems necessary!

To recap, setting up a tagging system makes it easy to stay on top of Google Drive and find the content you need fast. But if you’re still daydreaming about instant organization, you may want to consider adding Charli to the mix.