8 free Chrome extensions that enhance Google Drive

8 free Chrome extensions that enhance Google Drive

If you regularly use Google Drive through the Chrome browser or Chrome OS, here’s a selection of extensions that enhance the features of Google’s cloud storage service. All of these are free and we have tested all of them.

1. AwesomeDrive

If you use Microsoft Office and store your Microsoft Office documents on Google Drive, then AwesomeDrive is a must. Once it's installed in Chrome, you can open an Office document from Google Drive and it will load in the Microsoft Office application (Excel, PowerPoint, Word) on your computer. After you edit and save the document in Office, the new version will be saved back to your Google Drive. Thus, AwesomeDrive eliminates having to manually download your Office documents from Google Drive, and uploading them again after you’ve worked on them in Microsoft Office.

2. Checker Plus for Google Drive

Clicking the Checker Plus icon that’s added to the Chrome toolbar when you install this extension opens a panel that shows the files stored in your Google Drive. From this panel you can find or delete files in your Google Drive using an included search tool. (Otherwise, clicking a file itself will open it inside a browser tab.) Basically, Checker Plus lets you do these file maintenance tasks without needing to access your Google Drive page in a browser window.

Additionally, Checker Plus can be set to alert you whenever a new file is added to your Google Drive, or a file already stored in it has been changed. These alerts are sent both as notification cards that pop up from the lower-right corner of your desktop, and from the Checker Plus icon on the Chrome toolbar. This extension’s developer is also the author of the equally excellent Checker Plus for Gmail.

3. Drive Anywhere

Drive Anywhere is similar to Checker Plus, but allows you to manipulate files stored in your Google Drive in many more ways. As with Checker Plus, you click the Drive Anywhere icon on the Chrome toolbar to open a panel that lists the files in your Google Drive. Unlike Checker Plus, Drive Anywhere lets you download, move to other folders, and rename files -- and select multiple files to apply these actions to at once.

Other functions Drive Anywhere has over Checker Plus: You can upload files on your computer to your Google Drive, through this extension’s toolbar panel, and can switch to another Google Drive user account within it. Although Drive Anywhere beats Checker Plus in the area of maintaining your Google Drive files, it lacks the latter’s notification feature.

4. Google Docs Quick Create

This extension lets you quickly start a new Google Drive document, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing or form inside a browser tab. Click the Google Docs Quick Create icon on the Chrome toolbar, and a panel opens showing icon shortcuts – which when clicked will launch its corresponding Google Drive web app (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) in a new tab.

5. Notes for Google Drive

Here’s a nifty note taking tool that you use right from Chrome. Click on Notes for Google Drive’s icon on the browser’s toolbar, and a simple notepad application opens in a panel. The first line you type becomes the title for the note. Text can be formatted in bold, italic or underline; font and highlighting colors can be changed; and lines of text can be formatted as a numbered list. You can create multiple notes and delete them, all from within this panel. Your notes are automatically saved to your Google Drive, where you can load and continue to work on them in Google Docs.

6/7. OmniDrive and Quick Search for Google Drive

OmniDrive and Quick Search for Google Drive do the same thing: Add the ability to search your Google Drive files from within the Chrome browser’s address bar. And they work the same way: You type the word “drive” into the address bar, followed by a space, and then the filename of whatever you want to find stored in your Google Drive. Your Google Drive page opens in the browser window and displays the results, so you can find files in your Google Drive without having to first open the Google Drive page in a browser window.

In our testing, we couldn’t discern any difference between the two extensions in terms of how fast they worked and their results. However, Quick Search requested permission to access our Google user account before it would operate, while OmniDrive did not. Technically, OmniDrive and Quick Search access the search box that’s already on your Google Drive page remotely through Chrome’s address bar.

8. Save to Google Drive

One of the most useful Chrome extensions comes from the Google Drive development team. With Save to Google Drive installed, you can stow items to your Google Drive that you come across in your web browsing. These include document files, images, and media (HTML5-format audio or video). For example, you right-click on an image that appears in the browser window, and click “Save Image to Google Drive” from the context menu.

Save to Google Drive also adds its icon to the Chrome toolbar; when clicked, it will capture and upload the page in the currently active browser tab to your Google Drive. It does so in one of five formats: As a screen grab of the page’s whole layout saved in the PNG image file format; a screen grab of only the section of the page that’s visible in the browser window, also saved as a PNG file; the page’s original HTML source file; as an MHT file (the web archive format); or as a document that you can edit in Google Docs.

This story, "8 free Chrome extensions that enhance Google Drive" was originally published by Network World.

6 tips for scaling up team collaboration tools