How to Remove “Orphaned” Files Taking Up Space in Google Drive

Google Drive is a great free service, but it has limited storage. You might notice that your account is filling up quicker than it should. That might be thanks to hidden “orphaned” files. We’ll show you how to remove them.

What Is an “Orphaned” File?

An “orphaned” file was originally included in a folder somewhere. Usually, it’s a file that you’ve added to a folder on someone else’s account. But the folder has been deleted, and that can leave the file “orphaned” on your account. It doesn’t show up in your standard list of Google Drive files, but it still takes up space on your account.

Google doesn’t have a direct method for getting rid of these files, but there’s a trick (courtesy of Workspace Tips) that you can use to clear out the majority of them.

RELATED: How to Block Spam on Google Drive

How to Remove “Orphaned” Files

Navigate to Google Drive in a web browser such as Google Chrome, or open the app for iPhone, iPad, or Android.

Advertisement

Now, type is:unorganized owner:me in the search bar and hit Enter.

You’ll see a list of orphaned files. Right-click or long-press any of the files and select “Remove” from the menu. Do this for all of the files.

The Best Tech Newsletter Anywhere

Join 425,000 subscribers and get a daily digest of features, articles, news, and trivia.

We've got your info - thanks for signing up!
We were unable to subscribe you! Please check your e-mail address or contact us for assistance.
Signing you up...

By submitting your email, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

To fully reclaim the storage space being taken up by these files, you’ll want to clear them out of the trash folder as well. Find “Trash” in the sidebar menu.

Right-click or long-press the files and select “Delete Forever.”

Advertisement

That’s it! You might not have a lot of orphaned files, but if you do, this can free up some storage space that you can put to better use. Of course, you can always buy more storage if it becomes a real problem.

RELATED: What Is Google One, and Is It Worth Paying for More Storage?

Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews. Read Full Bio »