In brief: Anyone with access to Google Drive knows the service is good but not great. It does what it is meant to — store your excess files — but the UI and the search function are both far from perfect. However, that’s about to change: Drive’s search and filtering tools are getting some notable quality-of-life improvements, which testers can try out now.
In its announcement blog post, Google acknowledges that Drive’s current search functionality is inadequate. As the company notes, when searching for a file you can’t quite remember the exact name of, you might enter a few more vague keywords, such as “marketing plan” or even “cat video.”
However, depending on the volume and variety of content in your Drive, such searches will often turn up a long, frustratingly broad list of files and folders that you couldn’t possibly hope to sift through. I’ve personally struggled with Drive’s search tool on more than one occasion, and I only use about 90GB of space.
To alleviate these difficulties, Google is launching a beta feature called “Search Chips,” which is almost identical (functionally and aesthetically) to Gmail’s filters. When you search for a file in Drive (and only then), you’ll see a row of buttons appear at the top, above the results. These let you sort your results by file type, “People” (presumably collaborators), the “Last modified” date, and “Tasks.”
These buttons should help tailor your results more finely and prevent irrelevant files from appearing. It will probably take some time for the changes to roll out for everyone, but once they do, they’ll likely be pretty useful.
If you don’t want to wait for the official rollout, Google has opened up beta signups at this link. The company says sign-ups are just a way to “express interest” in the beta, so it’s possible that only a select portion of users will gain access.