You’ve reclaimed your Gmail Inbox, right? With the introduction of Gmail the use of tags versus folders was made mainstream. Tags are more useful; in a folder environment data lives in one folder, but with tags you can have as many categories associated with your data as you like. Now you can manage your documents, just like you manage your emails, with Google Docs: collections.

Why you need collections

You have a recipe from Grandma for brownies made with bacon. You place this in a folder called “Recipes”. Later your cousin drops in because he is collecting everything to do with Grandma. Simple enough you have a folder you can copy for him called “Grandma Betty”. This folder contains everything you have about Betty: May Queen photos, letters, photos of her quilts. But what if you never made copies of all the recipes that came from Grandma to place in this folder?

If you had been on the “tags” kick before, instead of sliding that recipe into a folder you would have labeled it with all kinds of categories: “Desserts”, “Grandma Betty”, “Recipes”, and even “Bacon”. In the tags or labels world you find your data quickly and completely, and you still only need one copy of it.

Around February of this year Google Docs released its equivalent of Gmail labels called: collections. The search box works, after all this is Google, but you will be more thorough and efficient when you can just click on a heading called “Recipes”, no need to enter a search term, they are already grouped. Luckily a document can be part of any number of collections, because sometimes you’re not looking for desserts, you’re just craving some bacon.

Making your first collection

  1. Navigate to your Google Docs page
  2. Click on Create New and then choose Collection
  3. Give the new collection a name such as “Recipes”
  4. Now go back to the Home Screen by clicking on Home or run a search for a document that you want to add to the new Collection
  5. Once you have found your document listed, Right click on it and choose Organize
  6. Under My Collections you will see all the categories you have created so far, check next to all that apply
  7. In the left hand pane you have a list of Collections just like you would have folders in Windows Explorer
  8. When you click on a collection heading only the documents belonging to it will be visible

You can create a collection within a collection just like you would do with folders; highlight a collection in the left hand pane, then click on Create New and choose Collection.


Photo Credit:brownies…yawn…boring” by Flickr user jeffreyw under a Creative Commons License.