There are two ways to use Google Drive to manage non-native files such as Microsoft Office, PDF, images and other files:

  • download Drive to your PC or Mac, set up a sync and work in a Windows Explorer window
  • open Drive on the web at drive.google.com

Using the first method actually makes the process easier, as the Google Drive sync takes care of managing revisions very well. For example, if you have an Excel spreadsheet synced to Google Drive on your PC, when you open the file Microsoft Excel will open as you would expect. Once finished with the file, save the spreadsheet as normal and Google Drive sync will re-sync with the version in the cloud. This process adds a new revision to Google Drive, meaning you can use the Manage Revisions feature to track changes made by you and colleagues.

If you have not downloaded Drive on your PC or Mac then the process has a few more steps. Since your document is in the cloud, you will need to download it in order to edit. Once you have edited your document you will need to put it back in the cloud. You could simply upload the document but, in order to have version control, you should use the Manage Revisions feature as outlined below.

Upload a new version of your Microsoft Office file:

  • Select the file in Google Drive on the web by ticking the box to the left of it
  • Expand the More dropdown menu and select Manage revisions
  • Alternatively, right click on the file and choose Manage revisions from the menu
  • In the Manage revisions box you can choose to Upload new revision, see who has uploaded previous revisions, download any revision or delete old versions of the file.

Of course, having multiple versions of a Microsoft Office file (or a jpg, pdf or any non-native file) does eat into your Google Drive storage space – so you either need to set auto delete (uncheck the do not auto delete column) and let Google automatically delete revisions after 30 days or if there are more than 100 revisions; or manually delete revisions yourself. It’s complex, but this is why we recommend ditching MS Office and switching to Google Docs!

Let us know in the comments if you any questions about managing Microsoft Office files.