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Get started with Google Drive for desktop

Access your files

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Now, add files and folders to your shared drive using Drive for desktop.

In this section, you learn how to:

2.1 Open your files
2.2 Search your files
2.3 Access your files from any device
2.4 Access your files offline
2.5 Avoid version conflicts in Office files

2.1 Open your files


On your computer

  1. Click Drive for desktop ""and thenOpen Google Drive "".
  2. In My Drive or Shared drives, double-click the file that you want to open.
    • Files created by Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms open in your browser.
    • Other files open in their regular applications on your computer.

2.2 Search for files

Manage and search for files with Shared Drives

2.3 Access your files from any device


After your files sync, you can access them from any browser or device.

Browser or device Requirements How to access
"" Web browser (any device) Install any web browser. Go to
"" Computer Install Drive for desktop . For details, go to Install Drive for desktop. Click Drive for desktop "" and thenOpen Google Drive "".
"" Mobile devices Install the Drive app from the Play Store (Android) or Apple App Store (iOS). Open the Drive app on your device.


 2.4 Access your files offline


Internet outages and long plane rides shouldn’t prevent you from working in Drive. Set up offline access so that the next time you don’t have internet access, you can view your documents, shuffle folders around, and edit files stored in Drive.

When you make files in Drive for desktop available offline, the app keeps a storage-consuming, cached copy locally, which allows you to work without connectivity to the web. The files sync when you’re back online.

Important: To make sure other people can’t see your files, set up offline access on devices that only belong to you. 

On the web

Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers only

Set up offline access for Docs, Sheets, and Slides (one time only): 

  1. Install the Google Docs Offline extension.
  2. In Drive, click Settings ""and thenSettings.
  3. In the Offline section, check the Create, open and edit your recent Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files on this device while offline box.
  4. Click Done.
  5. Right-click a file and turn on Available offline.

Access files offline

On your computer

Set up offline access for PDFs, Office files, and more on your desktop:

  1. Click Drive for desktop ""and thenOpen Google Drive Folder.
  2. In My Drive or Shared drives, right-click the file or folder that you want to access offline.
  3. Click Drive for desktopand thenAvailable offline.

For details on opening your files offline, go to Open your files.


2.5 Avoid version conflicts in Office files



Microsoft Office 2010 or later

Avoid version conflicts when you’re editing Office files. With real-time presence, you can see if someone else is editing a Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file that’s stored in Drive for desktop.

Real-time presence is automatically turned on in Drive for desktop. If someone turns it off, you won’t see that person in a file. Before you can use real-time presence on a Mac, you must change your system permissions.

Change system permissions (Mac only)

  1. On your Mac, open System Preferencesand thenSecurity & Privacyand thenPrivacyand thenAccessibility.
  2. At the bottom, click the lock to make changes.
  3. Check the Google Drive box.

Merge different versions of a file

If someone saves a new version of a file while you’re editing, you get a notification.

You can save your version as a copy or you can manually merge your changes into the latest version of the file. On the notification:

  1. Click Compare versions.
  2. Copy changes from your version (on the left) to the latest version (on the right).
  3. When you're done, in the latest version of the file, click Save.

Your unsaved version of the file (on the left) is deleted.

Turn off real-time presence

If you turn off real-time presence, other people won’t see you in a file.

  1. On your computer, click Drive for desktop "".
  2. Click Settings ""and thenPreferences.
  3. At the top right, click "".
  4. Uncheck the See if someone else is editing a shared Microsoft Office file box.
  5. Click Save.
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