How to use Google Docs Explore and Google Drive Quick Access

New features have been introduced in Google Docs and Google Drive and an Explore feature enables you to find related information and Quick Access enables you to continue working on documents.

Docs and Drive are constantly being developed and new features appear every now and then, often without you noticing or realising anything is different. They could be quite useful and you could be missing on on new ways to work or to save time and effort.

Let’s look at a couple of features you may have missed in updates this year, the Google Docs Explore function and the Google Drive Quick Access.

Enable Google Drive Quick Access

1 Go to Settings

Settings on the Google Drive menu

First you need to check whether Quick Access is enabled, so open Google Drive in a browser window, go to the gear icon, click it and select Settings on the menu.

2 Enable Suggestions

Enable Quick Access in Google Drive settings

Select General in the Settings categories on the left and then enable the Suggestions option.

3 Use Quick Access suggestions

Google Drive Quick Access suggests files you might need

A new section appears above the folder and file listing when accessing the root of Google Drive. If you do not see it, refresh the browser window.

It shows files you recently accessed or access a lot. The idea is that you may need to access them again, so they are made easier to find.

It is best to try this feature for a few days or even a week and see what suggestions it comes up with before deciding whether to keep the feature. It is easily turned off in settings if you don’t need it.

To disable Google Drive Quick Access:
  1. Go to Google Drive in a browser
  2. Click the gear icon at the top
  3. Select Settings on the menu
  4. Select the General category on the left
  5. Clear the checkbox next to Suggestions

How to use Google Docs Explore

You may not have noticed a new Explore button in Google Docs or you may have ignored it, thinking it is not important, but it is really quite useful and you should take a few minutes to get to know it.

It will help you when you are writing documents by enabling you to look up information from Google search without leaving the Docs editor. It can suggest things that you can explore or you can search for things.

It needs a document to work with and not an empty one. Open an existing document or create a new one, but don’t use Explore until you have a page or so of content in the document.

1 Open Google Docs Explore

The Explore button in Google Docs

In any document with text and images, go to the bottom right corner of the browser window and move the mouse over the button. It expands and says Explore. Click it.

2 The Explore panel

The Explore panel in Google Docs

The Explore panel opens on the right and it analyses the document and produces a few suggestions, such as topics related to the one you are writing about and images that are on Google Drive.

3 View topics and images

Viewing images suggested by Google Docs Explore feature

Click any of the topics or the More link to view the full list of topic suggestions. Click a topic and Google search results for that topic fill the Explore panel.

Click the More link on the right of Images and more images are displayed from Google Drive. As the mouse moves over them, a plus icon appears and clicking it inserts the image into the document at the current cursor position. This is a great way to add images to a document.

4 Explore words and phrases

Use the Explore feature in Google Docs

This is probably the best and most useful feature of the Google Docs Explore function. Select a word or short phrase in the document and then right click it (Ctrl+click on the Mac). There is an Explore option on the menu that is displayed. Click it and it performs a Google search on the selected text and displays the results in the Explore panel on the right.

5 Explore and use citation footnotes

Using the Google Docs Explore feature

After selecting Explore, the results are on three tabs in the Explore panel – Web, Images and Drive. The web results are the standard Google search results and clicking a link opens it in a new tab.

After reading and perhaps copying text into your document, move the mouse over the item and a quote appears in the top right corner. Click it to add a citation as a footnote at the bottom of the current page. You should always quote your sources of course, and this is an easy way to do it.;

6 Select the citation format

Select the citration formation for Google Docs Explore feature

Click the three dots on the right and you can choose from three different citation formats. Try each one and see which suits you best.

This is a great feature of Google Docs and it makes researching information and using it in your documents easier than it used to be. Sure, it wast’t hard before, but now it is even easier.