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Open, save, or delete files & downloads

You can use many types of files on your Chromebook, like documents, PDFs, images, and media. You can choose to save your files to your Chromebook's hard drive, Google Drive, or an external hard drive.

Open a file

To open a file on your Chromebook:

  1. Sign in to your Chromebook.
  2. Click the Launcher Launcher.
  3. Select Files Files app.
  4. On the left, choose the file collection you'd like to browse, like Downloads or My Drive.
  5. Double-click the file to open it.

If you're opening files on an external storage device, be sure to remove the device safely when you're done by clicking Eject Eject.

Save a file

To save the page, image, or document you're viewing, press Ctrl + S. Then choose where you'd like to save your file:

  • Downloads: To save the file to your Chromebook's hard drive, choose the Downloads folder.
    Warning: Downloaded files may be automatically deleted if your Chromebook is running low on space.
  • Google Drive: To access the file online anytime, from any device, choose Google Drive. You can also make your Drive files available offline.
Change the default location for your saved files
  1. Click the status area, where your account picture appears.
  2. Select Settings and then Show advanced settings.
  3. In the "Downloads" section, click Change.
  4. Pick a default download location, such as Google Drive or your Downloads folder.
Save executable files

To save an executable file - like files with .EXE, .DLL, or .BAT extensions - go to the notification that appears on the bottom of your screen, and confirm that you want to save the file.

This notification helps prevent malicious software from being downloaded without your knowledge or permission.

Note: Your Chromebook cannot run software for traditional computers, like .exe files, but it can save them.

Delete a file

  1. Sign in to your Chromebook.
  2. Click the Launcher Launcher.
  3. Select Files Files app.
  4. Click the file or folder you want to delete.
  5. Click Delete Delete and then Delete. You can also use the shortcut Alt + Backspace.

Note: When you delete a file in your Chromebook "Downloads" folder, it's permanent. Make sure you're only deleting files you won't need later.

Find a file

To search for a file on your Chromebook:

  1. Click the Launcher Launcher.
  2. Select Files Files app.
  3. Click Search Search. You'll see search results from the folder you're in.
  4. You can view your files using the Thumbnail view Thumbnail view or List view List view.

You can also search for a file using the Search key on your Chromebook keyboard Search.

Organize your files

You can organize and manage your files using the Files app, which is your Chromebook's file manager.

Move file from "Downloads" to Google Drive

To copy a file from your Downloads folder to Google Drive:

  1. Sign in to your Chromebook.
  2. Click the Launcher Launcher.
  3. Select Files Files app.
  4. Click the Downloads folder.
  5. Click your file, then drag it into your Google Drive folder.
Move files to another cloud file system

In addition to Google Drive, Chromebooks support other cloud file systems, such as Box or SMB. To save a file to another cloud file system:

  1. Open Files Files app.
  2. On the left, click Add new services and then Install new from the webstore.
  3. Follow the instructions to install a new cloud file system.
  4. After installing, you can copy files into your new cloud file system by clicking and dragging them.

Troubleshoot problems opening files

Choose the error message you see:

"Unknown file type"

Your Chromebook might not support the file you're trying to open.

Try saving the file to Google Drive or another web application, then opening it in your browser.

"Google Drive cannot be reached at this time"

Your Chromebook isn't connected to the Internet. Learn how to connect to Wi-Fi or fix problems connecting to Wi-Fi.

"Sorry, your device is not supported at this time"

Your Chromebook might not support the external storage device you're trying to use. Make sure your external storage device's format is supported.

If your storage device is supported, make sure your Chromebook is using the latest version of Chrome OS.

If your Chromebook is using the latest version, and no updates are available, you can use Google Drive to view the files on your storage device:

  1. Plug your storage device into another computer.
  2. Upload the files from the device to a cloud file system, such as Google Drive.
  3. Open your Chromebook, then open Google Drive to view the files.
"Sorry, your device was not recognized" or "Sorry, at least one partition on your device could not be mounted"

To fix these errors, you'll need to reformat your external storage device. Follow the steps below.

Note: These steps will erase all the files stored on the storage device. Make sure to back them up somewhere else before erasing.

  1. Click the Launcher Launcher.
  2. Select Files Files app.
  3. On the left, select the external storage device.
  4. In the window that appears, click Format.

Do more with your files

You can also:

Casey is a Chromebook expert and author of this help page. Help her improve this article by leaving feedback below.

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