Use Vault to search Google Drive, Meet, and Sites

Google Vault is for administrators and legal personnel. Before you can use Vault, your Google Workspace admin must set up your account. Who is my administrator?

As part of your Google Workspace data eDiscovery projects, you can use Vault to search for items in Google Drive, including shared drives, Google Meet recordings, and new Google Sites sites. You can search titles and the contents of supported file types. You can also preview items and export your search results.

Things to know before you search

Before you search for messages, we recommend you review the supported data types for Drive, Meet, and Sites and the Vault Search FAQ.

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What data is searched


  • Text-based content and metadata of files in users’ Drives and shared drives
  • External files shared with your users

Not searched:

  • Encrypted content
  • Linked files
  • Contents of video, audio, image, ZIP, or binary files
  • Videos automatically synced from a user’s Currents account

Searchable content and metadata

For all items, you can search the title, owner, date last modified, and other metadata.

For supported file types, you can search for words and phrases in the contents of files. Vault indexes the first 100 pages of text files and the first 10 pages of text in image PDFs.

You can search text within the following file types:

For more details, see Supported services and data types (sections for Drive, Meet, and Sites).

How do searches by account, organizational unit, or shared drives work?

The files that Vault searches depend on the type of search:

Search type Files searched
Specific accounts
Organizational unit

Vault searches:

  • Files owned by the account.
  • Files directly shared with the account, including files owned by users outside your organization.
  • Files shared with a group the account is a member of (if the group has less than 200 members).
  • Files shared with a group the account is a member of and that the account opened (if the group has 200 or more members).
  • Files shared with everyone in the organization or publicly that the account opened.

(Optional) Files in shared drives

Vault doesn’t search files in shared drives unless you choose to include them in the search. When you include shared drives with an account-based or organizational unit-based search:

  • Vault searches shared drives the searched account is a member of.
  • Only files that match the ownership or sharing conditions listed above are included in the search.
  • Vault doesn’t search all files in the shared drives the account is a member of. To search all files in a shared drive, do a shared drives-based search.
Shared drives Vault searches all files in the selected shared drives.

Note: Vault search doesn't include folders or Drive shortcuts.

How do I search for Meet recordings and associated chat, Q&A, and polls logs?
  • Recordings—You can search by the meeting title and metadata such as the owner, meeting ID, and recording start time. However, the content of Meet recordings isn’t indexed for search because they’re video files (MP4). To limit your search to only videos, you can use the search term type:video.
  • Chat logs—Chat logs are saved as SBV files. Chat logs contain message timestamps relative to recording start time, first and last names of senders, and message text. You can search by the file name, text in the log, and metadata such as when the file was created.
  • Q&A and polls logs—Q&A and polls logs are saved as Google Sheets files. These logs contain the questions, answers, and participants. You can search by the file name, text in the log, and metadata such as when the file was created.

Learn more about Meet recordings

How do I search for sites?

To limit your search results to sites created in new Sites, enter the search term type:site. To exclude sites, enter the search term -type:site or NOT type:site.

What file types can I preview with Vault for Drive?

You can preview the following file types:

  • Files created with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Drawings
  • Uploaded files such as .docx, .pdf, and .xlsx
  • When you preview a site, you can also preview external links. You can preview embedded files if they are preview supported, such as an embedded sheet or doc, and you have access privileges to the file. If you don’t have access privileges, you need to search for the embedded file directly.

You can’t preview encrypted files, videos, or the contents of ZIP files.

Can I search within the revision history of a document?

No. You can search only the most recent version of a file. However, you can enter a version date as part of your search. When you enter a version date, Vault searches the current version of the file, but you preview and export the contents of the last version saved before 12:00 AM UTC on the date. Versioning is supported only in Google Drive for files created with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Drawings. 

Some properties are reported for the current version, no matter what version date you specify. These properties include the title, who it was shared with, when it was last modified, approvers and approval status, and other data in Vault’s metadata.xml file.

Version snapshots include comments, subject to the following criteria:

  • Open comments are included only if your organization has comment or edit access to the document. Comments aren’t included if you only have view access.
  • An open individual comment (one with no replies) is included if: 1) the comment was created as of the version date, and 2) the commented text existed in that version (even if the commented text is now deleted). A comment isn’t included in versions from before the comment was created.
  • An open comment thread (one with replies) is included in its entirety if: 1) the first comment was created as of the version date, and 2) the commented text existed in that version (even if the commented text is now deleted). For example, if a comment thread has two messages that were created on October 1 and October 5, a search with the version date of October 2 contains both comments even though the October 5 comment didn’t exist at the time.
  • Edited comments are included as they currently exist, not how they were at the version time.
  • Resolved or deleted comments aren’t included in a version, even if the comment was open at the version time.
Can I search the top organizational unit of my organization?

No. You can't search the top organizational unit. Select a child organizational unit or individual accounts. You can search Drive for up to 5,000 accounts total (as individual accounts or members of organizational units).

Creation and modification time of an uploaded file depends on the source of the file
When a file is first uploaded to Google Drive, it is assigned a creation time and a modification time. These times match either the local file’s creation time or the upload time, depending on how the file was added to Drive. 
The following table shows which time is used for various sources:
  • Upload—The timestamp when the file was uploaded to Drive
  • Local—The timestamp of the original file's creation time on the source device or service
File source (client) Creation time Modification time
Web app Upload

Before April 8, 2020:

After April 8, 2020:

Google Drive for desktop Upload Local
Backup & Sync Upload Local
iOS Upload Upload
Android Upload Upload
G Suite Migrate Local Local
Drive API Can be set by caller Can be set by caller

Search for files in Drive

  1. Sign in to
  2. Click Matters. You search for data in matters, which are workspaces for your Vault projects. Matters let you group related holds, searches, and exports together. Matters don't restrict what data you can search—all data that you are allowed to access is searchable from any matter.
  3. If the matter you want to run the search query in exists, click it to open it. Otherwise, create a matter:
    1. Click Create.
    2. Enter a name for the matter and, optionally, a description.
    3. Click Create.

    The Search tab opens.

  4. For the service, select Drive.
  5. Select the source data to search:
    • All data—Search all messages in your organization.
    • Held data—Search only messages on hold for the matter.
  6. Select the entity to search:
    • Specific accounts—Enter up to 5,000 account email addresses.
    • Organizational unit—Search all accounts in a specific organizational unit. In the dialog that opens, select an organizational unit.

      If you choose an organizational unit with child organizational units, accounts in the child organizational units are also searched. The organizational unit must have fewer than 5,000 members, including child organizational units

    • Shared drives—Search one or more shared drives. 

      Select the shared drives and click Add. If you have many shared drives and the list is paginated, your selection is preserved as you change pages. If you check the select all box at the top of the list, it selects only the current page. You can also search the list by a member’s email or by the shared drive’s name.

      1. To filter the list by the email address of a member:
        1. Click Find by member email.
        2. Enter one or more accounts.
        3. Click Find.
      2. To filter the list by the name of the shared drive (available if your organization has fewer than 1,000 shared drives):
        1. Click the Filter by name box.
        2. Enter letters in the name of the shared drive. For example, pr matches shared drives named “Sales projects”, “Marketing Projects”, and “Product management”, but not “Repairs”.

          The paginated list automatically updates as you add letters.

      3. To find the shared drive by name (available if your organization has more than 1,000 shared drives):
        1. Click Find by name.
        2. Enter one or more words in the name of the shared drive. Note: Words must be exact and complete. For example, marketing, projects matches shared drives named “Marketing projects Q4’22” and “Projects for marketing”. It doesn’t match a shared drive named “Marketing project archive” because “project” doesn’t end with an “s”. Similarly, ma doesn’t match any of these shared drives because it’s only part of a word, not the complete word.
        3. Click Find.
    • Sites—Search for sites by URL.
      1. In the dialog that opens, enter one or more published site URLs, separated by commas. The URL format is Note: You can’t search by page URL, only site URL. You can’t search by site URL for sites shared by external organizations.
      2. Click Find.
      3. In the list of sites, select the sites you want to include in your search and click Add.
  7. (Optional) If you search accounts or an organizational unit, to include files in shared drives, click Include items from shared drives "".
  8. (Optional) Select a time zone.
  9. (Optional) Enter a range for Date modified.
    • If you enter a start date, Vault returns all items modified on or after that date.
    • If you enter an end date, Vault returns all items modified on or before that date.
  10. (Optional) In Terms, enter one or more search terms:
    • To search for one or more keywords in the content, title, or metadata, enter words separated by spaces. For example, project goals.
    • To search for a phrase, put the words in quotes. For example, "project goals".
    • To search by account, sharing, item name, item type, or modification date, use search operators.

    Search terms can't exceed 2,000 characters.

  11. (Optional) To retrieve versions of files created in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Drawings saved on a specific date, enter a Version date. For details, on this page see the section on version history.
  12. (Optional) To search only client-side encrypted files or exclude them from your search, click Advanced search options and select which files to search (default is all files). Note: This option is only available if Google Workspace Client-side encryption is turned on.
  13. Click one of the following:
    • Search—Run your search and return a list of items that match your query.
    • Export—Directly export the search results and skip the search results preview. Learn more about exports
  14. After your search or export completes, you can take the following actions:
    • To edit your search, click Expand.
    • To open a preview of an item, click the item. Note: In your results list, client-side encrypted files have an Encrypted  icon next to them.
    • To create an export of your search results, click Export. Learn more about exports
    • To save your query, click Save. Learn more about saved queries
    • To clear all fields and start a new search, click Clear.

Preview search results

After you run a search, you can review and download the items that matched your query.

Preview is supported for Google files such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Drawings, as well as other common types such as PDF, DOCX, and XLSX. You can't preview ZIP, binary, video, or encrypted files. In Google files, you can't preview comments, suggested edits, or revision history.

Note: The Google Sheets IMAGE function can reference an image by URL, such as "". When you preview the spreadsheet in Vault, the image is retrieved in real-time from the source. For images uploaded or inserted in the spreadsheet, Vault stores and displays the image available at the date specified in your search. 

  1. To preview an item, in the search results list, click the item.
    • For supported file types, a preview of the item opens.
    • For file types that aren't supported in preview, Vault shows an error but you can still download the item.
  2. To download an item from the preview, click More ""and then Download.
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