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In the web UI for Google Drive, if you search for something like owner:xx is:starred you can just paste that string into the search field and get the same result every time. You can also bookmark the URL and get the same result every time you visit that bookmark.

Now I would like include the sort order into either a string you can paste into the search field or the URL but when I click on Last Modified to sort on that field neither the search field nor the URL changes.

Does it exist an operator like sortby:lastmodified ascending or similar that you can enter in the search field (which in the next step likely would affect the URL)?

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No it doesn't.
Unfortunately you will need to do it manually each time. To automate this, Google would need to integrate that in the HTML version in the future. Alternatively, you could leverage a 3rd party extension or program that uses the Google Drive API or write something yourself in Google Apps Script if you were able.

For example, a quick search found a an extension on Google Marketplace called Drive Explorer that purports to perform and save Drive searches to a spreadsheet and even sync some changes back to Drive if you so choose. This is the first I've heard of it and don't know the developer but it has a half a million downloads which may mean it is good, or simply that this problem affects many people, or even both.

I don't know what kind of impact this limitation actually has on your productivity but if it is compelling you will need to do some additional research on that or similar options. Marketplace: Drive Explorer

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