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Expanding shortcuts in Google Drive, reducing unorganized files

What’s changing 

Earlier this year, we made shortcuts in Google Drive generally available. Shortcuts simplified file and folder structures in Drive by creating pointers to items, rather than having items which existed in multiple locations. This helps ensure easy access to files and folders for different users while reducing possible confusion about how files are owned, managed, and updated. 

Now, we want to share three updates to our plans for shortcuts and file locations: 

  • Expanding use of shortcuts: Removing some specific actions which still created multiple locations for files. 
  • A migration update: More details on migration of existing multiple-location files to shortcuts. 
  • Improving file management and reducing “unorganized” files: Ensuring files which have their last location removed are now placed in the owner’s My Drive folder. See more details below. 

Who’s impacted 

Admins and end users 

Why it’s important 

Expanding the use of shortcuts will increase the consistency of behavior and make it easier for users to understand how their Drive is structured. 

Additional details 

Expanding use of shortcuts 

After launching shortcuts, there were still some ways for users to add files to multiple locations. We’re now stopping some of those to create a more consistent experience across different platforms and ways of using Drive. Specific changes include: 

  • When using Drive on the web, the keyboard shortcut Shift+Z on a shared file used to place the file in multiple locations. Now, when a single file or multiple items are selected, Shift+Z will create a shortcut instead. However, if a single folder is selected, Shift-Z will still add another location for the folder to ensure continued compatibility with offline access via Backup and Sync. 
  • When using Drive on the web, making someone else the owner of a file used to create multiple locations for the file. Now, if the new owner can see the file’s existing location, it will remain there. If the new owner can’t see the existing location, it will be moved from its current location to the My Drive folder of the new owner, and a shortcut will be created in its place 

A migration update 

In our original announcement, we mentioned that we would be migrating existing files in multiple locations to shortcuts. We’d like to share more details on these plans: 
  • We will start this migration some time in 2021. We’ll announce the migration on the G Suite Updates blog and with an in-product notification banner at least 2 weeks before it starts. 
  • The migration will remove all but one location of files that currently are in multiple locations, and will replace the removed files with shortcuts. 
  • The migration heuristics will be based primarily on original ownership, but will also take signals about access and activity on other parent folders into account, to ensure the least possible disruption for collaboration.  
  • File access and ownership will not be impacted. 
  • The migration will be automatic and won’t require manual work from users or admins. 

Improving file management and reducing “unorganized” files 

A file can become unorganized when its last previous location is removed. For example, this could happen if you had added a file to a shared folder that was later deleted by the owner of the shared folder. 

Previously, in those situations you would only have been able to find the file by specifically searching for it, not by browsing for it. This led to some instances where it appeared a file was lost. Now, we will add these items to the owner’s My Drive. This change will make it easier to locate files which have had their locations removed. 

API updates reminder 

Earlier this year, we announced changes to the Drive API which would support the transition to file shortcuts. These changes will start to go into effect on September 30, 2020. Read more details about the API changes here. 

Getting started 

Rollout pace 

Expanded use of shortcuts and improved file management: 

Migration of existing files in multiple locations: 

  • Will not start until 2021, and will be announced in advance on the G Suite Updates blog and with an in-product notification banner. 


  • Available to all G Suite customers and users with personal accounts 



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