U-M Google Updates

New look and feel for Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides


Google has announced a new look and feel for Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web beginning March 22, 2023.

In Drive, you’ll notice the following changes:

  • Key actions (such as share, download, and edit) surfaced in-line when hovering over files.
  • Ability to select multiple items at once and take batch operations for frequent tasks (such as share, download, and delete).
  • New search chips (including file type, owner, and last modified date) to help search for files.

In Google Drive, a user selects the new search chips from their homepage and finds a list of files that fit the criteria

In Docs, Sheets, and Slides, you’ll notice the following changes: 

  • A simplified user interface at the top of your documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows.
  • Additional user experience improvements in commenting, background, rulers, and gridlines.
  • Relocation of some features to reduce clutter within the new interface. Notably, you can find the latest status info for the document, such as last edit and version history, via the clock icon in the top right corner.

View of the new interface in Google Docs

According to Google, the refreshed user interface should begin appearing in U-M Google on March 22, 2023, and could take 3 days or longer to become fully visible.

Change to threading in Google Chat spaces


In 2022, Google introduced the ability to organize Google Chat spaces with in-line threading, similar to Slack’s functionality. Starting March 13, 2023, all newly created spaces in Chat will be in-line threaded. You will no longer have the option to organize them by conversation topic, where related messages and replies were grouped together in the main conversation window. Existing spaces organized by conversation topic will continue to function as they do today. However, later this year, existing conversation topic spaces will be migrated to the new in-line threaded experience. More information will be communicated once Google makes the announcement of when this will occur. Learn more about when to use and how to organize a Chat space.

Someone is in a Google Chat space and clicks Replies on a message to open the thread to the right of the conversation

According to Google, this change should begin appearing in U-M Google on March 13, 2023, and could take 15 days or longer to roll out to everyone.

U-M Google January Monthly Summary


The monthly U-M Google summaries inform the university community of new Google releases and previously communicated updates.


  • Expanded language support for captions in Google Meet

Google has added additional language support for captions for the following languages: Japanese, Russian, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Portuguese, Mandarin (traditional). Learn more about enabling captions in Meet.

Google has brought the existing mobile search chips feature to Chat on the web that helps you filter your search results. (Search chips already exist within Google Drive and Mail.)

The filters available are: 

  • From: Messages sent from specific people. 
  • Said in: Messages said in a specific conversation or space. 
  • Date: Messages sent during a specific date range. 
  • Has file: Messages that include documents, spreadsheets, slides, and more. 
  • Has link: Messages that include links. 
  • Mentions me: Messages that mention you. 

Learn more about searching for Chat messages.

User searching for Google Chat messages and using the new search chips

  • Rollout update for the new Gmail integrated interface

As announced in early 2022, the new Gmail integrated interface has finally rolled out to U-M Google. This interface is now the standard, default experience for all Gmail users, with no option to revert to the original interface.

  • Google Chat space names appear when sharing Drive files

After sharing a Google Drive file to a Google Chat space via message, you will now see the space name in the sharing dialog of the file. If a collaborator on the file has shared it with a Chat space of which you are not a member, the space name will show as “Private Space” in the sharing dialog.

File sharing dialog box in Drive showing two Google Chat spaces as shared on the file

Previously Communicated:

U-M Google December Monthly Summary


The monthly U-M Google summaries inform the university community of new Google releases and previously communicated updates.


You can now set a recurring “Do Not Disturb” schedule in Google Chat, so you are not disturbed by Chat notifications on web, Android, and iOS. Learn more about scheduling Do Not Disturb in Chat.

Google has added drop-down chips in Google Sheets. Dropdown chips are a custom formatting feature that is already available in Docs, and they enable you to easily indicate statuses or various project milestones outlined in your Sheet.

Demonstration of using drop-downs in Google Sheets

Additionally, Google has modified the workflow for creating and managing all data validation rules, including drop-down chips and checkboxes. You can now view and edit all existing rules that have been created in a specific Sheets tab and create additional rules from a new sidebar view. Learn more about inserting smart chips in Google Sheets.

Google has introduced a new ‘Follow’ feature that allows you to collaborate with colleagues in real time on Google Slides. You can now click on a collaborator’s avatar in the Slides toolbar to jump to whatever slide they are on, and continue to move with them as they navigate and make changes to a presentation. To stop following a collaborator, click on their avatar again.

Demonstration of using the new follow feature in Google Slides

  • Pin table headers when using pageless format on Google Docs 

When your Google Doc is set to the pageless format, you can now pin one or more table rows as header rows. When you scroll vertically past the top of the table, the headers will remain visible at the top of the window until you scroll to the bottom of the table.

  • Easily share files in Google Meet chat on web 

When sharing a file in Meet chat, you will now be prompted to update the file-sharing permissions to reflect which meeting attendees you’d like to have access to a particular file. Previously, when you shared the link to a Google Drive file in Meet chat, you had to ensure the document was shared with those on the call, either proactively or reactively, on a separate screen.

  • Warning banners for external email recipients on iOS devices

You'll now notice a warning banner when adding external recipients to an email on iOS devices. These warnings are already available for Gmail on the web and Android devices.

Previously Communicated:

Upcoming changes to Google shared drive creation process

Reminder: New Google shared drive creation process


In an effort to improve the lifecycle management and automation of Google shared drives, the process for creating them changed on January 3, 2023.

You can no longer create shared drives directly within Google Drive and may notice the option to do so is grayed out. You will now use a new Google shared drive creation form in the Shared Drive Manager tool, similar to the request form you currently use to create Dropbox Team Folders.

Moving forward, you will also use the tool to change your drive's department prefix, name, and Manager role assignments. If you make these changes in Google outside of the tool, they will be reverted within 24 hours.

Additionally, only active U-M faculty, staff, and students are eligible to create shared drives. Sponsored affiliates, temporary staff, alums, retirees, and Google Shared Accounts cannot create shared drives.

As a reminder, shared drives should be used for collaborative data related to administration, learning, teaching, and/or research at the University of Michigan. Shared drives are not appropriate for storing personal data (SPG 601.07). Data in shared drives are considered to be owned by a group or team rather than an individual.

Refer to Shared Drives in U-M Google for instructions on using the new form to create a Google shared drive, including information on sharing, permissions, and best practices.