Digitize to minimize: Google Drive

A great way to minimize what’s taking up space in your life is to digitize it.

I was able to let go of so many books because I have an e-reader that allows me to house over 600 books in the space of a small paperback.  I have an iPhone with applications for music, clock, calendar, camera, photos, books, audiobooks, and store convenience cards, among others.  iTunes means I don’t have to house a CD rack full of music anymore.  Cardstar means I can upload the barcodes from my loyalty cards to scan them at stores without having to carry them around.  Kindle and Audible mean I can listen to or read a book without having to carry it around or lose my place.

Technology is a wonderful thing for a minimalist.

One of the most impressive forces behind digitizing is Google.  First of all, if you haven’t browsed the web on Google Chrome, give it a try.  It’s so clean and tidy and not full of superfluous junk.  The URL bar is the Google search bar – it does both things in the same space.  There’s a back, forward, reload, and favorite button for easy browsing.  Clean and simple, I love it.  But that is just the tip of the Google iceberg.

Did you know that Google can replace…

External drives and USB storage?

Google Docs is a beautiful thing!  It allows you to store documents on Google Drive and access them from any computer.  You can also share them for viewing or editing with other people.  Text documents, spreadsheets, presentations – these and more options are available in Google Docs for your use.

Side note: Another great application for file storage between devices is Dropbox.  I seriously under-utilize mine but I will be changing that soon! 

Fax machines?

You can send and receive faxes – for free – with an app called HelloFax.  HelloFax is an app available for download with Google Drive, which stores the faxes you send and receive and allows you to access them from anywhere you can get online.


Okay, not entirely, but DocuSign, another Google Drive app, allows you to send documents and forms through your browser to be completed, signed, and sent back to you – all online.  No printing, scanning, mailing, faxing, or scrambling to find a pen with ink.


Google even offers an app for music lovers – DriveTunes.  You can listen to .mp3 and .mp4 files, search for a specific song, or shuffle through them all.  The music is stored on Google Drive.  Currently the app does not have a playlist feature.

These apps and more are available through the Google Chrome Web Store.  Check them out and see what you can digitize.

29 thoughts on “Digitize to minimize: Google Drive

  1. It seems to me like Google Music would be a better option than DriveTunes for music storage/play – it does offer playlists, for one thing. Have you looked at it at all?

    1. I have not! I use iTunes mostly, I found DriveTunes while I was researching for this post! I will look into Google Music too, thanks!

  2. Thank you for posting about Cardstar. I didn’t know it existed and I love the idea of getting rid of all those bonus cards I lug around on my key chain. I do use Google Chrome, but not to its full capacity. I am going to check Google out further, especially Google docs. Thank you for your post. I am having so much fun clearing out the clutter in my life!

    1. You’re welcome, thanks for stopping by and commenting! I am having fun too 🙂 a little too much, people are starting to worry haha!

  3. great scott!
    i just now saw to the left where we leave comments.
    i left one on miss minimalist for you. a great little essay!
    continued good luck on your new adventure.
    (can’t believe i missed where the comments are on here.
    actually… i can read…. really!
    all the best
    tammy j

  4. Thanks for the info on HelloFax. I hardly ever need to fax anymore so I cancelled my home phone and got rid of my fax machine as I was decluttering, but sometimes I do need to fax and it will save me money to be able to do it this way instead of paying the bank to fax for me. I found you from Miss Minimalist and I’ve read all your blog and I loved reading it.

  5. Enjoyed reading all of your blog- you’re making tremendous and fast progress! Love the way you share. Wanted to mention that a scanner is my favorite minimalist tool that has helped me become paper-free. I found a tiny Fijitsu one that helped eliminate a filing cabinet and 13,000 pictures. Just an idea that might help. Keep up the great work!

    1. I have been looking at scanners, but so far, I just use the one at work if I need to scan something…. saves me having to store one at home 😛

      Thanks for your kind comment! I always like to hear that people enjoy my writing style. Hope to see you around the blog in the future!

    1. I have found that the barcode it generates doesn’t work at every store, so I recommend keeping cards on you as a backup when you’re first trying it out, or seeing if they can look you up by phone number!

  6. I’m in the process of digitizing all of my documents and photos…and man is it a process!!! But I know once it’s done, I will feel so much lighter. Thanks for the tips!

    1. You’re welcome! It certainly is a process. I have all my paperwork down to an expanding file folder, which is nice. I should go through the photos at my mom’s house though… she was never a super-photographer mom so there aren’t too many!

  7. I started digitizing things last year! We live in a small apartment and there just isn’t a need to have a bunch of papers sitting around, taking up space. I have a pile of papers that come in and try and scan everything once a month or so. My goal is to soon scan the photos I have in a few photo albums from when I was younger.

    1. Good luck scanning photos! And good for you for staying on top of digitizing. I need to be better about reducing paper, though I have gotten down to an expanding file box instead of a file cabinet. I still have a nasty habit of just shoving papers in there though… minimalist sin!

      1. You will get better! It takes time if you’ve only just recently started minimizing. This marks one year since I began and I’m still working on things! It also kinda takes time to put your head in a different place. Yesterday I decided that I am finally ready to get rid of some things of who I wish I was. I have a homebrew kit for beer and a cheese press that my dad made me (both items I have used ~*once*~). I wish I were the type of person who brewed her own beer and made hard cheeses, but I’m just not. My dad bought me the homebrew kit and made me the press, so I’ve had the emotional attachment thing going on, like, what if he ever asked why I wasn’t making beer? Except he got me this stuff almost two years ago, so it’s really just ME putting more importance on it than necessary. I’m going to do another blog post about minimizing really soon. I have recently gotten another surge of “YEAH! I’m going to get rid of MORE!” ;o)

      2. I’m sure your dad won’t mind, especially if you can give those items to someone who will make beer or cheese with them and really give them a good use! 🙂 Good luck getting rid of more, and thank you for your encouragement!

    2. I spent a winter a couple years ago when I was recovering from a car wreck, scanning all my papers, receipts, and photos. It was a lot of work but I’m so glad I did it. Now like you, I scan my stuff once a month. My goal is to be able to let go of the big heavy scrapbooks before we wind up moving again. I have them scanned, but sometimes the kids like looking at the books instead of a computer screen. I’m thinking if I can condense them into smaller Shutterfly albums, it would be the best of both worlds.

      1. Good luck! I am not looking forward to scanning the old pictures that don’t exist digitally yet. I have at least five photo albums of pictures that exist digitally that I printed out, etc, because I thought I might want to sit down and look at them sometime. Yup, that never really happened. 😉 So now my goal tonight (maybe tomorrow) is to take pictures of the albums and list them on CraigsList. That way hopefully someone will want them and then I’ll be forced to take the pictures out then!

  8. Hi,
    I would not trust Google to keep my important documents… Do you now what they do with your data? Nothing is for “free”…

    1. That’s certainly true, Martin, Google does have the ability to hold onto your files and information, but for a quick communication between people I think it’s very handy! I wouldn’t do anything too sensitive with it, personally, but many people enjoy the benefits. Dropbox is another alternative for storing documents that doesn’t have the Big-Brother aspect of Google.

  9. I’m really enjoying your blog! 🙂

    My decluttering is a work in progress. Well, let’s say my house looks pretty neat and tidy….IF you don’t open the doors to the spare room and the basement *cue scary music*

    1. I think we’re all a work in progress 🙂 Thanks for your comment, I am glad you enjoy the blog! Check back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new posts.

  10. HUGE fan of this! This is a lot of what I heve been tryig to do in minimalizing, as well. There are so many things you listed that I hadn’t heard of yet!

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