How To Delete All Documents in Google Docs

Deleting files in Google Docs shouldn’t be a chore. We often find ourselves over-encumbered with files, photos, music, and years worth of data that we no longer need. If your Google Docs is getting a bit full making it difficult to find documents, there are ways to organize and delete the unwanted content.

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. Google makes it so incredibly easy to save and share files that 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?

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.

How to Delete Files from Google Docs

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 that the file has been moved to trash. On the right side of the dialog box is the UNDO option. Click UNDO if you accidentally delete a file.

How to Delete Multiple Documents

Google Docs was 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. Fortunately, you can delete multiple Google documents from Google Drive.

Pull up the list of closed files.

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.

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.

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’re looking for a quick cleanup on your Google Docs there’s a simple way to hide the documents that have been shared with you. Often, we find that our Google Drive has become so cluttered with Shared Files that it can be intimidating to delete them all.

There is a one-click option to clean up the appearance of your Google Docs while keeping them stored for future reference.

To hide the documents you don’t own, do this:

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.

You can also use this function to filter out any files that aren’t owned by you making it simpler to delete the documents you no longer need.

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.

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 CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+H 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. Log into Google Drive and right-click the document with the revision history you’d like to delete.
  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 version 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.

Travel back to Google Drive and tap on ‘Trash’ from the menu icon. Right-click the file you’d like to delete and tap ‘Delete Forever.’ Take note of the ‘Restore’ option here as well. If ever you accidentally delete an item you can recover it from the trash folder in Google Drive.

Transfer File Ownership

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.

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. “Share with people and groups” window will open. Select the name of the person you want to give the ownership.
  4. To the right of the future owner’s name, click the icon with the down arrow and change it to “Make owner”.
  5. A pop-up box will show up to confirm the changes made, select “Yes” to confirm.
  6. Click Done 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, on the left side menu select Trash.
  2. Check to ensure all files inside the list are those you want to completely remove.
  3. On the upper portion of the file list, click Empty Trash to permanently delete all items in the list.

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

Caroline Bush says:
IT does not select multiple files. How is this possible ???
Everett Manchester says:
I have been trying all over the internet to find out.. Bottom Line is A Big Fat NO..
as good as Goggle is.. They Lack Improving a lot of there Products.. They don’t care.. To Big for the small guy.. If it wasn’t for YouTube to get answers I would of left them years ago.. They could be so much better then are right now..
kag says:
“1. Pull up the list of closed files.”


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

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