ActivInspire, the software that many teachers use to present on their Promethean smartboards, creates presentation files called flipcharts. Flipchart filenames have the suffix .flipchart and look like this when viewed on your desktop:

When uploaded to Google Drive, however, the .filpchart files look like this.

And when you try to open .flipchart files from Drive, you get this error message:

While it might seem like .flipchart files are totally incompatible with Google Drive, there are at least three different ways you can open .flipchart files that are stored in Google Drive. While this article will focus on .flipchart files, these tactics will work with any exotic filetype that Google Drive can't open natively like Microsoft Office Documents, GPX files, Adobe Creative Suite files, or anything else that can be opened by an application you have on your computer.

Option 1: Download It

1. Navigate to your flipchart file in Google Drive and right-click on it. Choose 'Download' from the context menu:

2. Your download will begin. Depending on the size of your flipchart file and the speed of your internet connection, this may take anywhere from a second to a few minutes. Use a wired connection (ethernet cable) to get faster download speeds. When the download is finished, you'll see a notification in your browser.

3. You can open the downloaded file by clicking on the notification in your browser (shown above), or by navigating to your computer's Downloads folder and double-clicking on your downloaded file:

This is the easiest way to view and edit a .flipchart document, but it has some drawbacks. If you make any edits to the file you downloaded, those changes won't be saved in Google Drive. After making changes, you'll need to save the file, upload it back to Drive, then delete the previous version. This actually isn't as hard as it sounds (you can do it in less than 30 seconds) BUT it's still an extra step that not everyone is going to want to take. 

This brings us to: 

Option 2: Google Drive Sync + Open from ActivInspire

For Options 2 and 3, there are a couple of pre-requesites.

1. Download and Install Google Drive Sync (tutorial).

2. Configure Google Drive to sync the folder(s) where you store flipchart files (also in the tutorial, step 6).

All set? OK here we go:

1. Open ActivInspire on your Computer.

2. Reveal the File menu and select 'Open' (or use the keyboard shortcut CTL + O).

3. Click on the Google Drive folder in the left-hand sidebar. Navigate to the folder containing your flipchart file, then double-click to open it.

That's it. Now, what's great about Option 2 is that any edits you make will be saved when you close the file. There's none of this 'save it, then change the name, then upload it' business. Or, more accurately, Google Drive Sync handles all of that work for you, in the background.

Option 3: Open Directly from Google Drive, in Chrome

Like Option 2, you'll need to have the Drive sync app installed on your computer and be syncing the folder where you keep your flipchart files. There's one more pre-requesite: you need to be using Google Chrome and you'll need to have the "Application Launcher for Drive" extension installed and enabled. To check if this is the case, open a new Chrome tab and navigate to chrome://extensions. It looks something like this:

This is a bit of work up front, but once it's set up, opening flipchart files directly from Google Drive is a snap.

1. Open a new Chrome tab and navigate to the Google Drive folder where your flipchart is located.

2. Right-click on the file you want to open, go to "Open With" and choose 'Inspire' (or 'ActivInspire').

OMG! You can directly open flipchart files from Google Drive this way. Here's the whole process in action, just so you believe me:

For realz, it that's easy. And, just like Option 2, any edits or changes you make will be updated automatically, no manual uploading required.

So there you have it: three ways to access exotic filetypes in Google Drive. Last but not least, I need to leave you with a warning: if you're using Google Drive Sync you really do need to customize and limit what folders you're syncing. If you try and sync ALL of TSS Files to your PC, that story is not going to have a happy ending. If you need a hand getting it set up, you can contact the IT helpdesk.