Manage files and folders overview

Files stored on Google Drive are represented as a File resource in the Drive API.

Note: Folders are treated as a type of file. For further information on folders, refer to File types.

File attributes

Following is a list of elements common to all files stored on Google Drive:

File ID

A unique opaque ID for each file. File IDs are stable throughout the life of the file, even if the file name changes.

Files in Drive cannot be directly addressed by their path. Search expressions are used to locate files by name, type, content, parent container, owner, or other metadata.


Data describing the content of the file. This includes the name, type, creation and modification times. Some metadata fields, such as the name are user-agnostic and appear the same for each user. Other fields, such as capabilities and viewedByMeDate contain user-specific values.

File types, such as images and videos, contain additional metadata extracted from EXIF and other embedded metadata.


A restriction placed on the file. Users control who can access a file using an access control list (ACL), or a list of permissions for the file. For additional information about ACLs, refer to About permissions.


The binary or text body of the file. Images, videos, text files, PDFs are examples of content stored in Drive.

Revision history

The history of all changes made to a file.


A graphical representation of a file. Drive automatically generates thumbnails for many common file types. For shortcuts and other file types that Drive can't render, you can provide a thumbnail image.

File types

Following is a list of file types stored on Google Drive:

A file that contains text or binary content such as images, videos, and PDFs.

A container used to organize other types of files on Drive. Folders are files with the MIME type of application/ Folders only contain metadata.

Note: A single file stored on My Drive can be contained in multiple folders. A single file stored on a shared drive can only have one parent folder.


A file that links to content stored on a third-party storage system. Shortcut files only contain metadata and are represented as files with the MIME type of application/

G Suite document

A file created by a G Suite application such as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These files are similar to shortcuts and represented with MIME types in the form application/*app* where app is the name of the application.

Note: Folders, shortcuts, and G Suite documents cannot be uploaded to or downloaded from Google Drive. However, G Suite documents may be imported or exported using compatible formats. For example, a Google Doc can be created by importing a PDF and a Google Slides presentation can be exported to a .pptx file.

Next steps

Here are a few next steps you might take:

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Drive REST API v2
Drive REST API v2
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