Shortcuts replacing files and folders stored in multiple locations

Google Drive will simplify your file and folder structures by replacing files and folders included in multiple locations with shortcuts.

Previously, you could include files and folders in multiple locations in My Drive. The introduction of shortcuts simplified file and folder structures and created easy access to items. With shortcuts, it’s now easier for you to find and organise files and folders in multiple Google Drives while keeping the original version in one location. Learn more about finding files and folders using shortcuts.

How the replacement will work

  • The replacement process will start in 2022. You’ll get a notification in Google Drive a few weeks before your replacement starts. 
  • If you use Backup & Sync, the replacement process will only start once you have migrated to Drive for Desktop. 
  • The process will replace all but one location of files and folders that are currently in multiple locations. The files and folders will be replaced with shortcuts. 
  • The replacement decision will be based on original file and folder ownership, and will also consider access and activity on all other folders to ensure the least possible disruption for collaboration.  
  • At the time of replacement, sharing settings and file and folder ownership won’t change. 
  • The replacement is automatic and won’t require action from you or your Workspace admin. 
  • You can’t opt-out of the replacement.

Important: After the replacement, the original file’s permissions won’t be updated automatically when you create a shortcut to it. Remember to give any new people access to the original file. If you use Google Drive for work or school, you can try using Google Groups for greater control and safety when sharing access to files and folders.

Frequently asked questions

Why is Drive replacing files and folders stored in multiple locations?

Shortcuts simplified file and folder structures in Drive by creating pointers to files and folders, rather than having files and folders in multiple locations. This helps create easy access to files and folders while reducing possible confusion about how files and folders are owned, managed and updated. At the time of replacement, sharing settings and file and folder ownership won’t change.

What files and folders will be replaced?

All but one location of files and folders included in multiple locations will be replaced with shortcuts. 

How will I know my files and folders were replaced?

You’ll get a notification in Google Drive once the replacement is complete. You’ll also get more information about how to use shortcuts

How can I find the files and folders that were replaced?

You can use advanced search to find files that were replaced. 
  1. On your computer, open Google Drive
  2. At the top, type is:replaced in the search bar.
  3. On your keyboard, press Enter.

Can I move the original files and folders after replacement?

Yes, if you want the original files or folders in a different location, you can move your files in Google Drive. You can also create a new shortcut.

What will happen to files and folders with reduced permissions?

Shared files or folders you own might not be visible to everyone if they’re located in a shared folder. Drive will replace these with shortcuts. People won’t gain access to these items, but the names will be visible to everyone with access. 

If you use Google Drive for work or school, your administrator will decide whether to create shortcuts for files and folders shared only with certain people or groups. If you have concerns about certain files and folders, contact your administrator.

If you use your Google Account for personal use (for example, @gmail.com), you can choose whether shortcuts should be created for items in shared folders that aren't currently visible to all members of the folder.

  1. On your computer, open Google Drive
  2. At the top, click Settings Settings and then Settings.
  3. Next to ‘Options for replacing items with shortcuts’, select Replace with shortcuts or Don't replace with shortcuts.

Learn what happened to your file or folder in the Activity feed

  1. On your computer, go to Google Drive.
  2. Click the file or parent folder.
  3. At the top right, click View details View details and then Activity.
What happens when a shortcut replaces a folder on Drive for desktop?

Drive for desktop moves the offline version of the folder and its contents to the bin. 

  • The folder on your computer is deleted based on the deletion schedule of your operating system.
  • Drive for desktop still shows the folder as a shortcut in your file list.
  • The folder isn't automatically available offline.
  • If you stream files and want your folder and its contents available offline, right-click on the folder to change your preferences.

Important: If you restore a deleted folder from the bin, Drive for desktop doesn't keep the folder updated.

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