Use Google Drive for desktop

To easily manage and share content across all your devices and the cloud, use Google’s desktop sync client: Drive for desktop.

Use Drive for desktop to find your Drive files and folders on your computer with Windows File Explorer or macOS Finder.

If you edit, delete, or move a file on the Cloud, the same change happens on your computer and devices, and vice versa. That way, your files are always up to date and can be accessed from any device.

You can use Drive for desktop to:

  • Open files stored on the Cloud directly on your computer.
  • View and organize your files in your computer’s file system without using storage space.
  • Sync folders from your computer to Google Drive.
    • When you sync, your files download from the cloud and upload from your computer’s hard drive.
    • After you sync, your computer's files match those in the cloud.
    • Your files stay up to date and accessible, any change you make applies across devices.
  • Save files and folders for offline use. This includes files from shared drives.
  • Collaborate on Microsoft Office files in real time.
  • If you use Outlook on Windows with a work or school account, send and save files with Microsoft Outlook.

Install & set up Drive for desktop

Download Drive for desktop

Important: Before you start, check that your operating system is compatible with Drive for desktop.

  1. Download Drive for desktop:

    DOWNLOAD FOR WINDOWS DOWNLOAD FOR MAC

  2. On your computer, open:
    • Windows: GoogleDriveSetup.exe
    • Mac: GoogleDrive.dmg
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Tip: If you use a work or school account, you might not be able to use Drive for desktop or your organization might have to install it for you. If you have questions, ask your administrator.

Open Drive for desktop
When you use Drive for desktop, you can find the Drive for desktop menu Drive File Stream:
  • Windows: At the bottom right, in the system tray.
    • Tip: You may need to click the arrow to Show hidden icons.
  • Mac: At the top right, in the menu bar.

To make it easier to find Drive for desktop when it's closed, you can pin it:

  • Windows:
    • To add Drive to the Start menu: In your Start menu, right-click Drive and then Pin to Start.
    • To add Drive to the taskbar: In your Start menu, right-click Drive and then Pin to Taskbar.
  • Mac:
    • To add Drive to your Dock: In the “Applications” folder, drag the Drive app to the left side of the line that separates the recently used apps.

Get started with Google Drive for desktop

Sign in to Drive for desktop
When you open Drive for desktop for the first time, or after your account has been disconnected, to log in:
  1. On your computer, open Drive for desktop Drive File Stream.
  2. Click Sign in with browser.
  3. Sign in to the Google Account you want to use with Drive for desktop.

Tip: You can use up to 4 accounts at one time with Drive for desktop. Learn how to use multiple accounts at the same time.

Use your Google Drive files in Drive for desktop

When you install Drive for desktop, your files display in a “Google Drive'' location in Windows File Explorer or macOS Finder.On your computer, open Drive for desktop Drive File Stream.

  1. Click your name and then Google Drive .
    • Based on your, or your organization’s, previous use of Drive, you may also open:
      • My Drive
      • Shared drive
      • Other Computers
  2. In the folder, double-click your file.
    • Files created by Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms open in your browser.
    • Other files open in their regular applications on your computer.

Tip: If you have no content in your Drive:

  • The “My Drive” folder is empty.
  • The “Shared drives” or “Other computers” views won't display.

Sync files to Google Drive or backup to Google Photos

Sync a folder with Google Drive or Google Photos

You can sync files from your computer to Google Drive and backup to Google Photos.

  1. On your computer, open Drive for desktop Drive File Stream.
  2. Click Settings Settings and then Preferences.
  3. On the left, click Folders from your computer.
  4. From this menu, you can:
    • Add folders to sync with Drive.
    • Add folders to backup to Photos.
    • Edit preferences of already configured folders.

If you sync with Google Drive:

  • Everything in the folder is mirrored. Changes sync between your computer and Google Drive.
  • You can use your files from any device online or on the Google Drive mobile app. Synced folders display under “Computers.”
  • If you add, edit, move, or delete items from these folders, the changes also reflect on your computer.

If you backup to Google Photos:

  • Only photos and videos upload.
  • Photos and videos deleted on your computer remain in Google Photos and vice versa.
  • Changes are uploaded as new images. The old image remains in Google Photos.
  • You can view your photos and videos from any device online or on the Google Photos mobile app.

Tip: If you only store photos and videos, we recommend you backup to Google Photos. If you store your files in both places, photos and videos upload twice, which uses more of your Google storage.

Back up your macOS System Photo Library

Important: The System Photo Library is the only Apple Photos library that can be synced to Google Photos. All Apple Photos Libraries, in contrast, can be synced with Drive.

If you sync an Apple Photos Library with Drive, everything syncs, including thumbnails and other metadata. Making changes to these files from another computer or in the cloud isn't recommended, it can corrupt your library.

Your System Photo Library is the only library that can be used with iCloud Photos, Shared Albums, and My Photo Stream. If you have only one photo library, then it's the System Photo Library. Otherwise, the first photo library that you create or open in Photos is your System Photo Library.

Hard drive space is temporarily used to download photos and videos from your iCloud and upload them to Google Photos. Learn more about backing up photos & videos.

Learn about features in Drive for desktop

Customize your Drive for desktop settings
Improve your Drive for desktop experience with Advanced Settings. You can:
  • Customize sync preferences.
  • Enable or disable real-time presence with Microsoft Office.
  • Customize Google Photos settings.
  • Customize general settings, such as automatic launch, hotkeys, and proxy settings.
Learn how to customize you Drive for desktop settings.
Open files & folders offline

You can save files and folders for offline use with Drive for desktop. Learn how to use files offline with Drive for desktop.

Search for your Drive files

To find your files in Drive, search in Drive for desktop. When you search in Drive for desktop, rather than in Windows Search or macOS Spotlight, it ensures that your search includes all files from the Drive streaming location.

  1. On your computer, open Drive for desktop Drive File Stream.
  2. Click Search Search.
  3. Enter your search terms.
  4. Open your file. If the file is on your computer, it opens with the associated application. Otherwise, it opens in Drive web.

Tip: To open the search window you can also use the search hotkey combination.

Work on MS Outlook & Office files

You can work on Office files with real-time presence when you use Drive for desktop. For Windows users with a work or school account, you can also send and save files with Microsoft Outlook. Learn how to use Microsoft Office files with Drive for desktop.

Use Drive for desktop with macOS
Mirroring My Drive

Mirroring and streaming are two ways to sync your files.

  • Folders from your computer can only be mirrored.
  • Shared drives and other computers can only be streamed.
  • My Drive can either be mirrored or streamed.
  • When Drive for desktop is installed, the “My Drive” folder is streamed. You can update your preferences and choose to mirror or stream My Drive after installation.

Learn about streaming and mirroring options with Drive for desktop.

Troubleshoot errors
In Drive for desktop, under “Activity,” a “Some errors occurred” banner displays. To display the list of errors, you can either:
  • Click the link in the banner.
  • Click Settings and then Error list.

Learn more about how to fix errors.

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