Something to look forward to: Google's G Suite users will soon be able to create file shortcuts within their Google Drive cloud storage. Functioning similar to shortcuts in Windows (or aliases on a Mac), these shortcuts will serve as pointers to a file stored in another location within the same drive or another separate shared drive.
Pointers are an efficient way to handle lines of code in an app or managing files on a desktop, and while this ability to refer to a resource located at another place has been utilized by desktop users for quite sometime now, most cloud storage services are still lacking in such file management features.
Google is looking to bridge that gap by launching a beta of its shortcut feature for G Suite users. "We’re launching a new beta that allows you to create shortcuts in Drive, making it easy to reference and organize files and folders outside of a given shared drive," announced the company in its blog post with a GIF to demonstrate how the feature will work.
Since storage, online or offline, is a precious resource, shortcuts will make it easier for users to organize their files without the need to create multiple copies and the effort required in maintaining them. As an example Google quoted the following scenario:
If Paul in marketing shares a document from his team’s shared drive with the entire sales team, Greta in sales can create a shortcut to that document in her own team’s shared drive. Previously, because documents can’t be owned by two shared drives, Greta would need to create a copy of the document for her team’s shared drive, which could then quickly become out of date.
With this feature, Google will replace the current "Add to My Drive" option with "Add shortcut to Drive" with support for Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, JPGs, PDFs, Microsoft Office files and Folders.
It's also important to note that these shortcuts will be "visible to everyone who has access to the folder or drive containing the shortcut" and that "creating a shortcut does not mean sharing access to a file or folder," meaning that file sharing access will have to be granted explicitly for the shortcut to work.
Interested users can sign up for the beta where their domain admins can share workplace details, which Google says it'll begin accepting in the coming weeks. Those of us using the standard non-G Suite edition of Google Drive can keep our fingers crossed for the shortcuts feature to trickle down to the free version.