Since its launch five years ago, Google Drive has become an indispensable part of how I work.

I can barely remember a time when my Masthead Media co-workers and I would actually email text documents and spreadsheets and wait for each other to review them and make revisions. How incredibly retro--and unproductive

Over time, Drive has added a ton of new features--improvements you might not realize exist--which can help you improve your workflow. The five spotlighted here can keep you blazing through your work within the app, rather than opening new windows or programs to get the job done. 

1. A Shortcut to Keyboard Shortcuts

When keyboard shortcuts become second nature, they help cut down so much work (what would life even be like without [command] + [X] + [command]+ [V]?). Drive has some great ones, but let me save you the trouble of committing them to memory: there is a keyboard shortcut to find the keyboard shortcuts (it's Google Drive Inception). Just click [command] + [=] + [/] and a searchable list of shortcuts is at your fingertips.

2. Convert PDFs or Text Images to Text

Did someone send you a PDF that you really wanted as a Word doc? Just upload it to Drive, and then select "Open With Word" under "More Actions" (or by right-clicking). The formatting won't be perfect--though in my experience it's better than copying and pasting into a Word doc--but it definitely beats retyping a document

3. Research as You Write

As Google is the life force behind Drive, it's only natural that Google Search is built in seamlessly. Use the "Explore" option (formerly known as "Research") under "Tools" to search for that quick fact you need for your presentation without even clicking away from Drive.

4. See Revision History

So one of your collaborators changed something in a document, spreadsheet, or presentation, and you want to restore what you had. It happens. Instead of clicking undo over and over in hopes that you can fix it, check out the Version History under File. To prevent this from happening again, control who can access and edit your document.

5. Controlling Access

Speaking of which, want to send a document as a view only? Or just open it up for comments, as opposed to direct edits? Go to Advanced Options under File>Share, and control who can see, edit, and comment on your document. You can even set an expiration date for access, which comes in handy when you have a hard deadline for making changes to a document.

Published on: Oct 13, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.