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Google just made it easier to search through photos and PDFs

TechnologyGoogle just made it easier to search through photos and PDFs

The Files by Google app streamlined your ability to manage and share documents, photos and other data on your Android, version 5.0 & up. 

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Now Smart Search on Google’s Files app takes it a step further by allowing you to find text and objects in images and documents, including PDF files, on your device.

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Files by Google app. (Google)

How to access Files by Google app

You can access the app by downloading it from the Google Play Store.

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To download the app on Android

  • Open the Google Play Store app on your Android
  • Search for Files by Google
  • Tap Install and wait for the app to download and install on your phone
  • Open the app and grant the necessary permissions to access your files

How to use Smart Search to find photos and files faster and easier

The Smart Search feature is particularly helpful for those moments when you can’t remember the exact file name but can recollect an image or similar words in the document or photo you’re looking for.

Now, instead of scrolling for hours for that photo you know you took but can’t remember when or where, it can easily be found by typing in keywords or objects that might be in the photo or file you’re looking for.

For instance, if you remember what you were wearing on a certain occasion but can’t remember where the photo is, you can use Smart Search to look for the company’s name on the t-shirt you were wearing in that photo, like NIKE. Then all the photos and files with that company’s name would populate in the search result — greatly reducing the amount of scrolling and sleuthing you’d otherwise have to do.

MORE: BEST TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SEARCHING THROUGH YOUR PHOTOS

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Types of information you can seek out with Smart Search

  • Texts from images and PDF files
  • Location and objects from images
  • Audio & video titles, artists, or album names

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Smart Search uses an advanced algorithm that scans your files in the background of your device, which balances both device performance and privacy. Smart Search only scans within the device that it is on to pull up search results, so that your information doesn’t get shared outside your device.

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Google logo and a person holding an Android. (Google)

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How long does it take for your device to learn your files?

There are some slight limitations with Smart Search. According to a help page, it does take a few days for it to “learn” the files on your device and show up as a search result. This means it takes a few days for newly downloaded or added files to be included in search results. The longer the file has been on the device, the more likely it will accurately pull up items in your search.

How to check If Smart Search is available on your Android

Smart Search isn’t available to all users. To check if Smart Search is available on your Android, you can follow these steps:

  • Open the Files app on your Android
  • Tap on the search icon at the top right corner
  • If you see a message that says “Smart Search is here,” then you have access to the feature. You can tap on “Learn more” to get more details on how to use it
  • If you don’t see the message, then you may have to wait until the feature is enabled for you
  • You can also check for updates in the Play Store or App Store and make sure you have the latest version of Files by Google app

How to search for a file using Smart Search

  • On your Android device, open Files by Google 
  • At the top, on the search bar, enter the name of the file that you want to search
  • If you’re not sure of the file name, you can also use the smart filter to search by — Audio, Documents & other, Images, Videos, Large files, SD card, This week
  • To deselect the filter, tap on the selected filter again
GOOGLE FILES 4

Steps to search for a file using Smart Search. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: BEST WAYS TO SEARCH FOR ANYTHING

How to turn off Smart Search in the Files by Google app

If you are concerned about the Files by Google app’s access to your personal data and its potential impact on your privacy and security, you might want to turn off Smart Search. 

  • On your Android device, open the Files by Google app
  • Tap three horizontal lines 
  • Then click Settings
  • Turn off Smart Search

Keep in mind if you do decide to turn off Smart Search, you can only use text from file names to search for files.

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Kurt’s key takeaways

Smart Search on the Files by Google app can make most files, including PDFs and images, searchable on your device. Smart Search “learns” the files on your device, so it can retrieve files in a search more easily.

How many times have you gotten lost on your phone looking for that one photo or file because you couldn’t remember the name of it? Would you consider using Smart Search on Files by Google? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact

For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter 

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