Create Shortcut for a Google Drive File at Multiple Folders

Google Drive One File Multiple Folders

Google drive is the gateway tool to store, access and share files, photos and much more on the go. Working with docs and spreadsheets becomes easy and handy in your mobile devices itself, not binding you in the limits of your office and computer. However, at times working with so many documents and different folders may become difficult and confusing, especially when you have to deal with multiple people on multiple documents.

Suppose you have a file that you share with multiple people at multiple folders in your drive. And there comes a need to frequently access the most updated version of that file. Only if we have one master version of the file and its shortcuts distributed across folders, then managing it will become a lot more peaceful task.

Assign one file to more than one folder in Google Drive

An unknown feature of Google Drive lets you add a file to multiple folder locations but only symbolically. The master file will remain at a specific folder where its shortcut links can be made to other folders.

This obviously isn’t copying, but this is maintaining files at different locations without duplicating it. This comes very handy when you have updated one copy of it and all the instances of it get updated.

Here’s how can create shortcut or multiple instances of the same file:

  1. Select any file or folder. You can also choose multiple files or folders by pressing Ctrl in Windows or Command key in Mac.
  2. Now press ‘Shift+Z’ and you will see an ‘Add to folder’ pop-up.
  3. Select the folder where you wish to create the reference of the selected files and folders, then click OK.
  4. Done!! You’ve neither copied nor moved files to that folder; you’ve just created a link to the file.

To verify this method, right-click on the file and select Get Link. Now go to copied location and get the link of that file too. Both the links will be same, indicating the file is same but just present at different locations.

Add to Window in Google Drive

This feature is also useful when you have to create a copy of a folder but want to preserve space. Instead of duplicating it, you can create a reference copy with Shift+Z anytime.

Remember that these reference files share the same link, hence deleting the original will reflect in removal from other shared locations too.

How to properly delete these shortcuts

Just right click on the file/folder and select ‘View Details’ option. From the right sidebar details panel, chose Details tab and you can see the list of folders where the particular document is assigned. Click on the cross to remove from these reference folders.

remove file from multiple folder

Click cross[x] next to each folder name to remove the file from the Drive folder

Alternatively, it looks like Drive is using symbolic links of Unix to implement this feature. If you drag the shortcut file to the original folder, it should remove the link automatically. To view which one is the original, just right click on the file and select “View Details” option. It should show you the location of the original file.

For some reason, Google has not included this option in right click context menu. Perhaps it does not want users to get confused between this hidden ‘Add To’ option and ‘Create a Copy’ or ‘Move To’ option. But you can surely enjoy this neat trick anytime with just Shift+Z.

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Filed under Google Drive. Posted by Abhishek and last updated on July 31, 2017.

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Will the changes made in these shortcuts will be seen in other files?

Also, it is only for documents or can I use for any media file too?

    Yes, the changes made to one location will be reflected in another location. To verify, you can see the link of both the files are same, they are just shown in different folders.

    I suppose it works for all types of files.

Thank you sooooo much this was exactly what I was looking for, what a sneaky lil trick!

– Signed, a High school teacher happy to be able to organize her folders without duplicating files

Great feature! But my only complaint is after you do this there is nothing visually to indicate this folder is now duplicated elsewhere. In Windows, the shortcut itself and folder shortcutted to are marked to look slightly different than ‘regular’ folders. This would help for me as I have a lot of things going on in my Google Drive and may not remember in the future exactly how I created these folder duplications, which could cause confusion. Hope they add this feature at some point!

    Your concern is valid Dan. However, in Windows we have one master file and other are shortcuts which are represented by small arrow icon. Here, in Google Drive, there is no master file or shortcut/duplicate files. If you notice, its the same URL of the file in different folders. So, no matter from where you open, its always master. And since, all files are master, visually it will have same icon in different folder.

    It could get little confusing, but that’s how Google Dive is.

Thank you! Very helpful.

The only way I’ve found to undo this is to drag the folder (haven’t tested it with individual files) to the original location.

@Abhishek Mandloi

To undo mirrored links (links accessing the same file using Google’s “Add to”/Shift+Z) for folders/files, drag any of the mirrored links to a folder containing any of the other mirrored links, and Google will rid of one of the mirrored links because it does not display duplicate mirrored links.

Also, thanks to all ho shared their knowledge on Add to function! Very Helpful!

As of 5 August 2016, it seems that ‘shift z’ only allows you to MOVE and not ‘ADD TO.’ Is this your finding as well? Or did I do something incorrectly?

Thank you for the sharing, it’s indeed very useful!! :)

I understand that this method creates another file icon pointing to the same actual file as the first file icon. But is there any way to delete one of the file icons without deleting the actual file?

This guide shows a great tool for increasing the number file icons pointing to the same actual file, but is there any similar command to decrease the number of file icons without deleting them all?

Also, what happens if you delete a folder which contains one of multiple file icons?

Thanks! Exactly what I was looking for. :-)

How do you undo it? Since I can’t delete it cause both links will be removed

Hey Guys I’ve figured out a way to “delete” one of the shortcuts if you don’t need it anymore. If you right click on the file or folder and then click “View Details”, the details bar will appear on the right. If it’s already open and you see the history of your action click on the “detail” tab on the tap of the bar.

You’ll be able to see the “location” of your file and you’ll see it has multiple location. There will be an “x” just beside all of them. I’ll let you figure out the rest from here ;)

Thanks for the article! Is there a way to create a shortcut to a whole folder instead of a particular file?

This is a great tip but has anyone figured out how to reverse it? Say for example, I created three instances of a GDrive folder to three different folders and now I want to remove one but not the other two. Can this be done?

Okay, now how do I remove the second instance?

Thanks very much for this post. It was very useful.

One suggestion is to update the post is the way in which to “Properly delete these shortcuts”. By right clicking on the shortcut (original or otherwise), you will see in Details part of the sidebar that pops up all the locations (folders) in which the shortcut can be found. By simply clicking on the cross that appears next to the instances that you want removed will remove the shortcut from that folder but not delete the file.

Thanks again.
Ian.

Do you know if/when this approach will be supported for Team Drives ?

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