Files and folders overview

Google Drive organizes files in collections, describes files by types, and provides specific attributes for each file to facilitate file manipulation.

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


Drive organizes files in collections based on the user's relationship with the content as well as it's storage location. Collections are specified as part of the file's metadata to show which group of files it is stored inside Google Drive.

My Drive

Each user has a "root" folder. The user's "My Drive" is their primary hierarchy, and consists of everything which is descended from this root folder.

Shared with me

The "Shared with me" category includes files owned and shared by others users which have been either: directly shared with the current user, a group containing the current user, or have been accessed by the current user.

Shared drives

A shared drive is an organizational structure within Google Drive that lives parallel to My Drive. An individual file may be organized within a shared drive or My Drive, but not both.

File types

Drive describes files by types. These are the file types {: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.

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.

Next steps

Here are a few next steps you might take:

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