Turn off Google Drive Preview "Feature"
February 28, 2013 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) has just unveiled a new "feature," that makes Google Drive open most files in a "preview" mode when you click on them, instead of just opening the file for editing/saving/etc. I would like to turn this "feature" off so that my files actually open. How can I do this?

Apparently, CTRL+clicking or opening a file in Preview and then selecting "Open" is the only way to actually get the files to open so that they can be edited or downloaded or printed or whatever. But that's incredibly irritating! Multiple people have posted in Google's Help forums asking how to turn this off, but so far, no one has any answers. Google has these pages about it, but I couldn't figure out what they were talking about or how to do what they suggest. So I turn to the people of AskMe. Is there any way to fix this "feature?" Please explain to me like I'm your 80-year-old, computer illiterate grandma, just to make sure I understand it.
posted by decathecting to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You cannot.

In general, for better or worse, Google does not present features and allow end users to select them based on whether they want them or not; the same has happened with the compose functionality in GMail, the recent changes to Circles, and a number of other features and functions in their products.
posted by ellF at 6:15 PM on February 28, 2013

I don't think so (although I should say that I think the new preview function is better), but on the bright side if enough people complain about the change, Google may do something about it.

For example, with the Chrome browser, for a while the home screen displayed a wretched, virtually non-functional version of the Search home page, squishing down all of the the app icons. Why? Because not enough people are using the "omnibox" to search Google directly.

But it was a dumb decision - the various Google animations that don't really interest me are not even animated on the Chrome home page, and the Search results page was terrible from a usability perspective.

After a week (and presumably lots of complaints) the feature was removed. So don't give up help!
posted by KokuRyu at 6:21 PM on February 28, 2013

KokuRyu, can you explain what the advantage is to this function? Maybe if I understood how it was supposed to work, I'd be a little less irritated about it. Because in my mind, all it does is make documents harder to open. Does it also do something useful?
posted by decathecting at 6:38 PM on February 28, 2013

I'm wondering if we use it for the same purpose. In my experience, the Google Drive document viewer was a quasi-pdf way to view non-Drive file formats, notably .docx. You couldn't edit them within the old viewer, and they looked terrible.

With the new viewer, non-Google-format documents (.docx, etc) are presented a little more nicely, and can even be more easily edited withing Google Drive. They have also adopted a G+-style interface for downloading and sharing.

The regular Google Drive editor still works fine...
posted by KokuRyu at 6:59 PM on February 28, 2013

Maybe I'm still not understanding. What's the difference between the "document viewer" and Google Drive? When I use it, I go to drive.google.com, and it gives me a list of all of the documents I've created or saved there. I used to be able to click on one, and it would open, and I could edit it or print it or share it with someone else. I have lots of .docx files that I could edit with few or no problems. Now, I go to that URL and click on a document from the list, and it opens it in the preview pane, meaning 1-2 more clicks before I can actually use the document. Am I missing something?
posted by decathecting at 7:31 PM on February 28, 2013

I'm not sure. I can't recall when I was last able to easily edit .docx files in Google Drive. If I upload a .docx file to Drive, it's always presented itself in a document viewer of some sort. Sometimes I am able to convert the .docx file to Google Drive (or Docs) format, but the formatting all goes to hell. Drive is useful for storing and sharing .docx files though, and you can also also track modifications to .docx files.

So I've always had a document viewer of some kind that has been tough to use.

On the other hand, I create a lot of documents in Google Docs/Drive format. These open easily, and can be edited easily.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:53 PM on February 28, 2013

For what it's worth I tried it and the phenomenon you described only happesn with stuff not directly created within Google documents. "foo.txt" for instance, shows "plain text" when I mouseover the icon for it and will open up in preview mode when I click in it, whereas "foo" created directly in gdocs, shows "Document" when the icon is mouseovered and opens up in edit mode. If I checkmark "foo.txt" and then pick more->open with->google docs it will create "foo" of type "Document" (unless I guess there's some sort of naming collision?).
posted by juv3nal at 9:22 PM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

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