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.

Learn about Drive for desktop benefits

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

Install & set up Drive for desktop for Windows

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

  1. Download Drive for desktop:

    DOWNLOAD FOR WINDOWS

  2. Open "GoogleDriveSetup.exe."
  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.

On Drive for desktop, at the bottom right, in the system tray, you can find the Drive for desktop menu Drive File Stream.

Tip: To ”Show hidden icons,” click the arrow.

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

  • 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.
Install & set up Drive for desktop for MacOS   

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

  1. Download Drive for desktop:

    DOWNLOAD FOR MAC

  2. Open “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. Your organization must install it for you. If you have questions, ask your administrator.

On Drive for desktop, at the top right, in the menu bar, you can find the Drive for desktop menu Drive File Stream.

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

  • To add Drive to your Dock: In the “Applications” folder, drag the Drive app to the left side of the recently used apps separator line.

Get started with Google Drive for desktop

Sign in to Drive for desktop

Get started with 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.

Sync to Google Drive & Google Photos

Back up photos & videos

You can automatically save your photos and videos to your Google Account when you turn on backup in photos.google.com.

Learn how to back up photos and videos.

Important:

  • If you only store photos and videos, we recommend you backup to Google Photos.
  • If you store your files in photos and videos, they upload twice and use more of your Google storage.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS) only supports backups to Google Photos.

Sync files to Drive

Sync files and folders to Drive for Desktop

When you first open Drive for desktop, you receive a notification “Google Drive would like to start syncing.” Click OK. On your computer, open Drive for desktop Drive File Stream.

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

  1. On your computer, open Google Drive Drive File Stream.
  2. Click Settings Settings and then Preferences.
  3. On the left, click Folders from your computer.
  4. Select an option:
    • Sync folders with Drive: Files you change in the synced folder reflect on Drive. Drive changes reflect on your computer. Synced folders show under "Computers."
    • Back up folders to Google Photos: Only photos and videos upload. Photos or videos you delete in one place don’t delete in another. Edits upload as new images. You can find your photos and videos from any device online or on the Google Photos mobile app.

Back up your macOS Photos Library

Important: If you have multiple Apple Photos libraries, only the System Photo Library syncs to Google Photos. You can sync all Apple Photos libraries in Drive.

If you sync an Apple Photos library with Drive, everything syncs.

We do not recommend you make changes to these files from another computer or in the cloud as it can corrupt your library.

Your System Photo Library is the only library that works with iCloud Photos, Shared Albums, and My Photo Stream.

If you only have 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.

When you download photos and videos from your iCloud and upload them to Google Photos, it temporarily uses your Hard drive space. Learn more about backing up photos & videos.

Access your files when they're synced
  1. On your computer, click your name and then Google Drive .
    • You can find several options based on your Drive usage:
      • My Drive: Contains your own personal files and folders.
      • Shared Drives: Contains files and folders others share with you.
      • Other Computers: Displays files synced from other computers connected to your Google Account.
    • Double click the file you want to open.
      • Files created in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms open in your web browser.
      • Other files, like Word docs or .pdf files, open in their default programs on your computer.

Tip: If your Drive and "My Drive" folder is empty, you can’t find the "Shared Drives" or "Other Computers" views.

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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