How To Delete All Documents in Google Docs

Deleting files in Google Docs shouldn’t be a chore, though it’s not immediately how to get it done without tediously deleting individual docs or selectable sets of docs.

Occasionally you may find yourself staring at a full list of files you either don’t want, don’t need, or just don’t have enough room for.

Personally, it’s not uncommon for my list of Google Docs to display hordes of unnamed files, duplicates, and shared documents no longer being worked on.

And after a while all those Docs will clutter up your Google Drive, making you disorganized, stepping on your productivity, and increasing your stress level.

So how do you go about deleting all of these unwanted files? Are there files worth keeping and of those you’ve chosen to delete, are they really, truly gone?

Fear not, for all questions will be answered in due time. I’ll start off with the basic procedure to deleting files and move on from there. Feel free to follow along.

You’ll find that Google Drive will be useful to you in this process so it would benefit you to learn to use Google Drive well.

Deleting Multiple Files At Once

The title may say ‘multiple’ but I’m going to cover the approach used for deleting individual files as well. To delete a single file from your bloated Google Docs list:

  1. While in Google Docs, choose the file you want to delete and left-click on the Menu icon (indicated by three vertical dots) for that file.
  2. From the options provided in the pop-up window, select Remove to have it removed from your list.
  3. A dialog box will appear toward the bottom of the screen indicating it’s attempting to hide the document from view. Once it has been completed you’ll notice the Undo option on the dialog box as well as the document being gone from the list.

As Google Docs were not meant for organizing your documents, you’re unable to delete multiple files at once. Instead, you’ll need to head over to Google Drive.

To delete files in your Google Drive:

  1. Pull up the list of closed files.
  2. Left-click on a file you want to delete. If this is the only file you want to delete, you can click the Trashcan icon at the top-left or right-click the file and choose Remove from the menu.
  3. To delete multiple files, after left-clicking the first file, hold down the CTRL key and left-click each one of the remaining files you want to delete. Continue to do this until all files have been selected. If the files you want to delete are situated consecutively, you can hold down the Shift key after selecting the first file and then click the last file in the chain you want to remove.
  4. Once all files have been selected, right-click on one of them and select Remove from the menu or click on the Trashcan icon at the top-right of the window.

All files that were selected will now be moved to the Trash.

Archiving/Hiding Older Shared Google Docs & The Template Gallery

If you find the functionality between Google Docs and Google Drive to be a bit confusing, you’re likely not the only one.

Google wants us to use Google Drive as our file browser of choice and using it directly to open up and create Google Docs. But the structure of Google Docs shows a nice display of document thumbnails, it’s hard to want to give it up.

You can see all of your own documents as well as those that have been shared with you. Though, you may also notice that sometimes a few of these shared docs are no longer active and are just taking up room alongside those that are still active. So how can you separate them so that it’s not just a jumbled mess of active and inactive thumbnails?

Well, there are ways you can clean things up a bit with those pesky shared docs.

Also, if it makes it visually more appealing to you to lose the templates list, you can do so by opening the Menu (indicated by three vertical dots) located to the right of the words ‘TEMPLATE GALLERY’ and selecting Hide templates.

If at any point you want them back, you’ll have to head into your Settings (Menu is in top-left indicated by three stacked horizontal lines) and checking off “Display recent templates on home screens”.

Back to the jumbled mess, notice the drop-down that like shows as “Owned by anyone”:

  1. Click to open it and choose “Not owned by me”. Your Google Docs will now only display those documents that have been shared with you.
  2. Right-click on the thumbnail of a doc you want to hide or archive and from the pop-up menu select Remove.

You’re unable to delete shared documents where you are not the owner but this method will remove them visibly from your Google Docs list. The doc itself will remain undisturbed for those who still choose to access it.

Delete Your Revision History

One feature of Google Drive is that revisions of your documents are saved automatically without needing you to do anything. To see the revisions list, you can press ALT+CTRL+G at the same time. Though this feature is incredibly useful if you ever plan to revert to a previous version of a document or just want to review the changes made, you may not want other prying eyes to see it.

By default, after 30 days all revision history will delete itself automatically. However, this may be too long a wait for some. The only option left is to force Google Drive into completely deleting the revision history immediately and to do so requires that you make a copy of that document.

What you’ll need to do is:

  1. Login to Google Drive and right-click the document whose revision history you want to be deleted.
  2. Choose Make a Copy from the menu pop-up.
  3. Once a copy has been made, choose to Remove the recently copied (not the copy) doc or select the document and click on the Trashcan icon at the top-right. This will not only remove the document but also its revision history.
  4. Next, right-click the copy of the document you just deleted and select Rename from the pop-up menu. Rename your document to its original title or give it a new one, then click OK.
  5. To verify, open up the document and click “File”. Select “See Revision History” from the menu and see that there is no more revision history for the document.

Empty The Trash (Permanent Deletion)

So far you’ve only removed files and docs from view. In order to permanently delete a file or files, you’ll need to do a little trash diving. Once a file has been deleted permanently, anyone you’ve shared the file with will lose access to it.

If you have a shared file (of which you’re the owner) that holds importance to those it’s been shared with, you can transfer ownership to them in a few easy steps.

Transfer File Ownership

Anyone else you’ve shared a folder or file with can claim ownership if you’re willing to relinquish it. To give sole ownership of a file over to a shared party:

  1. Head to Google Drive and select the folder for ownership transfer. If you want to select multiple folders, hold down the CTRL key while selecting each one or hold down Shift if files are consecutively aligned.
  2. Click the Share icon at the top right (indicated by a person silhouette with a ‘+’)
  3. Click Advanced located in the lower-right corner of the pop-up window.
  4. To the right of the future owner’s name, click the icon with the down arrow and change it to “Is owner”.
  5. Click Save changes for the transfer to take effect.

You’re still able to edit the folder even after transferring ownership. The new owner can decide whether or not to revoke access. You can now delete the folder from your Google Drive list while leaving it safe and sound with the new owner.

File Shredder (All Files Deleted)

To delete all files for good:

  1. While in Google Drive, in the left side menu select Trash.
  2. Check to ensure all files inside the list are those you want to completely remove.
  3. Click Empty Trash to permanently delete all items in the list.

Delete An Individual File

If you’d rather only delete a single item from the list:

  1. While in Google Drive, in the left side menu select Trash.
  2. Click the targeted file and choose Delete forever.

Bye-bye file!

After you’ve said bye-bye file, you may be thinking it’s a good time to learn to use Google Docs and Google Drive more efficiently than you do now. Start by reading some relevant TechJunkie articles such as these:

Do you have any tips or tricks for deleting Google Docs or for generally keeping your Docs organized? If so, please leave us a comment below!

2 thoughts on “How To Delete All Documents in Google Docs”

Avatar kag says:
“1. Pull up the list of closed files.”


Avatar William Lund says:
I want to delete all files in shared with me??? Please advise

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