Instant Google Drive Starter by Packt - User Review

Instant Google Drive Starter written by Mike Procopio , Boulder Colorado  based Senior Software Engineer, holds a Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Colorado, where he studied Machine Learning and Autonomous Robot Navigation.

'Instant Google Drive Starter' has been especially written to provide the readers / developers all the necessary information and guidelines essential to speedup with Google Drive, a web based application that allows us to store, edit and share files online possibly on ‘Cloud’ using the internet. The book consists of a number of essential and good-to-know topics book, organized in a ladder format, ie. Starts with the easy and necessary concepts and then heading ahead with much more complexity for the ease of the readers / developers to understand the basis concept first and then proceed ahead with the complex ones.

The author has explained each and every point in such a way that it can grab interest of the readers to major extent, irrespective of whether he/she is a newbie to web design or an experienced professional.

To justify my statements, I would like to pen-down my views topic wise.

So, what is Google Drive?:
This section covers topics like learning cloud based storage, how to access your files from anywhere, and advantages of using Google Drive instead of being confined to using files on just one computer.

Author covers vital concepts, starting from the basics ie. What exactly is Google drive; then heading towards what all activities can be done using Google drive and then ending this section with how to get started with Google drive implementation.

‘What is Google Drive’ - Author explains, it is a place where you can store your files online safely and access them from anywhere and from any device (even from Smartphones or Tablet computers) as the files are stored on web instead of the local computer hard drive; which is the base concept behind ‘Cloud Computing’. Google Drive even allows you to share your files to others, enabling you to collaborate with them and get your work done with tons of ease and comfort.

Author also explains that there is no file format restriction to store on Google drive, ie. What ever you save on your local computer hard drive, you can store them on Google drive. As an add-on, this section also deals with the options to have 2-way sync between your local hard drive and google drive; making your files more secure and convenience to work on either of the ends ie. Local drive or cloud.

‘What can you do with Google Drive’ – This topic covers various tasks / activities which can be commenced using Google drive alongwith how to do. For instance-creating a presentation; writing a report as a group project; working with MS office documents; uploading and sharing videos; and keeping a backup of your important and crucial files.

‘First steps for using Google Drive’ – This topic covers so as how to kick-start using Google drive for necessary and desirable activities. The best part, you just need either a new gmail account or an existing gmail account to kick-start.

Following is the expected interface which you can see once you login to your google drive account (using your gmail account).

What is Google Drive











The Google Drive user interface:
This section covers a high-level overview of all the chunks associated to Google Drive user interface, different files list, Navigation panel, tool bars, search bar, etc.

Google Drive - User Interface













This section details about Google Drive landing page and the 7 regions associated to it. Author has described each and every point in a crystal clear manner; demonstrating each with the associated screenshots.

For the better and quick understanding to the readers, I would like to list down the regions, which are as follows:-

  • Files list

It describes the structure of the files list display, demonstrating with a screenshot for better your better understanding. A number of important points have been shared by the author so that you can easily and quickly get accustomed with the steps and the guidelines.

Google Drive - User Interface File list








  • Toolbars

This topic deals in about the tool bar which appears when you select a document. In the following screenshot, you will find a “More” button which consists of additional list of actions which can be performed.

Google Drive - User Interface Tool Bar


Purpose and usage of each and every option has been well explained and defined; which I feel is the best part of the topic.         

Besides the above demonstrated tool bar, you will also find a second tool bar to the right-hand side with additional options like Sort menuView type, and Settings menu; which have been well defined and explained alike the previous topics.

  • Context menu

Concepts of Context menu have been explained here in this topic; which appears when the user right-clicks on a file in the Files list. It is as good as clicking on “More” button on the tool bar.

Google Drive - User Interface Context Menu












Alike the previous topics, the usage and purpose of each and every menu item have been clearly defined and explained.

  • Navigation Panel

Author has explained “Navigation panel” in the way that it is located on the left-hand side of the screen which solves the following 2 purposes.

Firstly, under My Drive, your personal folders will appear which can be organized easily, as it follows folder hierarchy or tree structure.

Secondly, you can easily change the “views” of your files and help the system filter your stuffs and results in a better and effective manner. Eg. Click on Starred to filter out and display only the items which are starred.  

Google Drive - User Interface Navigation Panel












Alike the above topics, the author has explained each and every point in crystal clear manner; making it more readable and understandable to the readers. Moreover, additional information and tips-and-tricks have been shared.

  • Preview Panel

Author describes; the preview panel can be found right-hand side of the screen, which shows the details like file name, thumbnail, sharing, description, folders, revisions, and other general information of the selected file. Below is the screengrab for the same.

Google Drive - User Interface Preview Panel

















  • Search Bar

Author describes that search bar is located on the top of the Google Drive and contains components like link to other google properties, search box, and account information and Google+ as demonstrated below.

Google Drive - User Interface Search Bar



  • Create and upload buttons

Author has described the placement of create and upload buttons alongwtih their respective functionality in a very precise manner.

Google Drive - User Interface Create Upload Buttons








Quick Start – creating documents and uploading files:
This section deals with how to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations using Google Drive driven programs; and how to upload files from local hard drive to Google Drive.

Author has described 3 important and effective ways how to push your files in Google drive. Firstly, using built-in application; secondly, uploading documents and files from local hard drive directly to Google Drive; and thirdly, sync your hard drive with Google Drive.

In addition to the above 3 ways, author has also discussed few more ways of doing the activity; demonstrating them with their associated screengrabs, which I think is the best part of the section, providing ease to the end-users to work with Google drive. Moreover, tips-and-tricks have also been shared for the end-users to work efficiently with other operating systems as well.

Top 7 features you need to know about:
This section covers how to perform various tasks making utmost use of features provided by Google Drive. The tasks include; organizing files, search and filter files, share them with others, how to discover and use the add-on programs, automatically synchronize your local hard drive, and how to use Google Drive on your phone or tablet computer.

Author has discussed 7 main features out of many facilitated by Google drive. The best part of this section is that the explanation is crystal clear and elaborative enough for the end-users to gain interest and work with. Moreover, each and every action (doesn’t matter whether it is a small or a huge action) have been described for better understanding. Below are the discussed features.

Working with files and folders – Actions like how to open a file or a folder, open file using a specific application (ie. Open With), download files and folders, how to preview files, creating new folders, ways to move a file to a folder, delete files, playing with the trash, and ways to delete your shared files have been discussed in details which includes the associated screengrabs alongwith the required tips-and-tricks for better efficiency.

Searching for files – Author says; Google Drive provides a robust search functionality wherein you can search contents mainly either using the keywords or predefined search criteria like based on type, visibility, ownership, combination search, by people, etc (also known as filters). Alike previous topic, author has explained each and every point very clearly which includes associated screenshots and tips-and-tricks. Moreover, even the small components have been elaborated so as to have proper and crystal clear understanding.

Sharing files with other people – This topic describes how to share files especially files of huge size with other people, colleagues, etc. This is one of the biggest benefits of using Google drive, wherein you can avoid struggling for sending huge files to your colleagues and co-workers  that too keeping file security and information confidentiality in place. Moreover, you can set the level of file permissions to be provided to different levels of people, hereby securing the confidentiality of information and restricting information to be passed to inappropriate person or group.

How to setup your sharing screen appropriately has been discussed demonstrating with an example using relevant screengrabs which covers what all links you wish to share; sharing links via services like Google+, Gmail, Facebook, twitter, etc; set different access permissions to different links; set list of recipients; message and email options. 

Updating your settings – Author discusses about the advanced level of how to play with your settings, which includes playing with the display density, setting your language, timezone, UI preferences, upload settings, how to manage your 3rd party add-on applications, setting up your keyboard shortcuts, etc.

Using third-party add-on applications (Drive Apps) – Author has discussed about how to setup 3rd party add-on applications (also known as Drive Apps) apart from the other built-in applications provided by Google Drive. Using various Drive Apps, you can extend the Google drive functionality even more, meeting your requirement and making the application more robust.

Author has demonstrated what can be done using drive apps, how to install them, setup and play with drive apps and ALL it’s possibilities with an example using the associated screenshots. The topic and it’s associated sections has been explained in a clean-and-tidy manner which provides better visibility to the readers to learn and implement.

Using the Google Drive Sync program – This sync program facilitates the users to sync their Google Drive folder or files with the related folder or files of their local computer; which is an automatic program running in the background.

This enables you to access your files from anywhere, make changes from anywhere, keep backups of important files on regular basis, upload large amount of data, keeping files in sync even with multiple computers, etc. Alike other sections, author has demonstrated this concept with an example using relevant screenshot, which enables the readers to have better visibility on the concept and to expand themselves to explore further while playing around Google Drive.

Using Google Drive on your phone or tablet – Author has explained how to play around with your files using Android or iOS based devices. How to install this free app for android, iPhone, iPad, etc based devices; how to use the mobile app and how to play around with your files and activities have been defined and explained in a crystal clear manner; demonstrating them using screenshot and minute level explanation of the key terms used.

People and places you should get to know: 
This section share the guideline and necessary information on how to discover the community around Google Drive; like useful links to the project page and forums, helpful articles, tutorials, blogs, and Google+ pages for Google Drive.

This short topic comes with even more important information which has been shared with the readers, which consists of links to various official sites for Google Drive; links to various article and tutorials; links to associated communities and blogspots to keep the readers and implementers updated with what new has come up with Google Drive, and seek free support from the community and helpful article and tutorials whenever they get stuck with some technology related issues.


Reading the book, I interpret that it is Easy to read, valuable tips-and-tricks have been shared, impressive Layout has been included and the best part is that the topics have been demonstrated by appropriate examples, demonstrating them with relevant screenshots and comparative study, making the book more readable and understandable to the readers. Moreover, a list of related tutorials, articles, blogs, community references have been provided for the readers to explore further on Google Drive.  


'Instant Google Drive Starter' is a must for end users who keep playing with huge size files and folders, which requires heavy co-ordination between a number of colleagues or co-workers who are spread out throughout the globe.


I volunteered to review this book and received a free copy from Packt Publishing.

This review has been cross posted at .