Google Workspace is chock full of undocumented behavior and error messages that can make troubleshooting problems difficult. In 2022, I decided to start keeping a list.
“An item was automatically placed in” behavior
A friend recently noticed many of their team’s drive documents were being moved around unexpectedly. The only hint was a profile photo nobody recognized and the message “An item was automatically placed in” that listed no location. The problem has a huge thread on the Support forums but isn’t mentioned much anywhere else. One response hints at a solution. If you’re seeing this message, try to figure out who the previous owner of the files was and if they’re still active. Google Support’s response indicates this happens when a file is orphaned — it will be returned by the system to its original location.
However, another user reports that this happened to a file they created in a shared folder, so that explanation doesn’t totally track. Multiple other users also reported it’s happening over and over again for files they’ve created or which otherwise don’t fit the pattern above.