Five Ways to Track Edits in Google Drive

There are plenty of benefits to using Google Drive: Sharing files to provide others access, collaborating on revisions to the same document at the same time as others and watching the changes take effect in real-time, and unlimited storage space for Google Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Forms and Drawings. With all these great collaborative features, did you know it is also very easy for you and your team members to keep track of changes that are made to your shared files or folders?

In this blog post, we will highlight some of the features available in Google Drive that help you stay up-to-date on recent modifications to your files stored in the cloud:

New Activity Stream

It's easy to stay aware of what your collaborators have been up to in Google Drive, thanks to the new activity stream in Google Drive. The feature began rolling out to Rapid Release track customers in mid-January, and allows Google Apps for Business, Education and Government users to view recent actions taken on files or folders in Google Drive. Prior to the update, users had an "Activity" point of view available in the left sidebar, where they could view a list of items in order of when they were last edited either by you or others who have access.

Now, with the activity stream feature, you have an overview of who made modifications and a description of what action they took: Edited, renamed, uploaded, shared, commented, moved, etc. To use the activity stream feature, select a file or folder from Google Drive and click the "Details and activity" button in the top, right corner.

Update Indicators

Update indicators in Google Drive make it easy to recognize if a shared file has been changed by a collaborator since you've last viewed it. If update indicators are turned on in Drive Settings, the title of updated items will display in bold until you open them to see the changes that were made.

To take advantage of update indicators, click the gear icon in Google Drive and select "Settings." Next, locate the "Update indicators" section, and ensure the box is checked next to "Bold any updated items."


Inserting comments in files is a great way to give direction, start a discussion, add a suggestion or ask a question in Google Documents, Spreadsheets or Presentations. If a collaborator is provided "Can edit" or "Can comment" access to your file, they can insert comments to suggest a modification to text, cells or slides. This will be helpful to not only track proposed changes, but also to hold a discussion about the suggested change before taking action on the shared file. When the discussion is over, you can mark a comment as resolved and it will be available to reference later when you click the "Comments" button in the top, right corner of the document.

So, if your team uses a spreadsheet for tracking and manipulating data, you could use comments to seek your team members' opinions on additions or changes before actually moving forward with edits. Collaborators can reply to the comment, and even mention another team member in the comment. To address your comment to someone, simply add a plus sign before their email address and they will be notified of the comment via email.

Sort by Last Modified

There are multiple sorting options available in Google Drive, so you can view the contents however it makes sense to you. If you're primary interest is seeing the most recently updated files at the top of your file list, then "Last Modified" is your go-to. To sort your items by Last Modified, click the drop-down arrow in the second or third column in Drive, and select "Last Modified." Next, click the column header so that "Last Modified" displays in red font. Now, your contents are listed in order of when they were last modified either by you or your collaborators. Plus, you can see the most recent editor's name with a time or date stamp of when the changes took effect.

Revision History

The revision history tool in Google Drive is perfect for people who like to maintain control over their shared files. Revision history is available from the "File" menu in Google Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations and Drawings. The tool provides a list of dates and times of when revisions occurred, the editor's name, and the color that will correspond with his or her changes made throughout the document. When edits were made that you do not agree with, you can select a revision and click "Restore this revision" to move that version of the document to the top of the Revision history list.

As you can see, there are several features of Google Drive that help you maintain control over your shared files and keep track of recent updates. Which feature do you find the most helpful for keeping track of your team's shared files? Feel free to leave your comments below and give this post a +1 if you found it helpful.

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