The Google Drive for Desktop app allows you to access your Google Drive contents from your computer's desktop, rather than through a web browser. This app also enables you sync files and folders from your Google Drive to your desktop, so that you can access them even when you're not connected to the internet.
In this tutorial, we'll walk through how to get started using Google Drive for Desktop.
To follow the steps below, you'll need to have the Google Drive for Desktop app installed on your computer. If you have a TSS computer, this app will already be installed by default. If you're on a personal device, you can download and install the app here.
1. Open the Google Drive for desktop app. On a Windows computer, this is easiest to do by opening the Start menu and searching for 'Google Drive'.
2. Click the blue 'Sign in with browser' button. Note that if your preferred browser doesn't launch here, you may want to change your default browser (Setting your Default Applications in Windows 11).
3. If you're already logged into your Google account, you can just click on your own name. If not, you might need to enter your Google Account credentials. Either way, afterwards you'll be prompted to give permission to the Drive app to access your account.
4. Google Drive will now run in the background whenever you start your computer. On Windows PCs, you'll see the Drive icon in the System Tray, the small collection of icons near the clock in the taskbar. You may need to click the upward-facing caret to view all the icons.
5. To adjust your preferences, click on the Drive icon, then on the gear in the upper-right. Finally, select 'Preferences':
6. Most of the settings in here (some of which are hidden behind yet another gear icon) are pretty self-explanatory, but there is one setting that's really worth checking. If you click on the Google Drive button on the right-side of the screen, you'll see an option to 'Stream files' or 'Mirror files'.
If you're signing in with a work account, you probably want to select "Stream Files" here. "Mirror Files" will actually make a copy of everything in your Google Drive and then store it on your computer. This could make sense for personal accounts, but for large work accounts, it's usually a bad idea.
7. Now that Google Drive is installed, you can use the Windows File Explorer or the MacOS Finder to view your Drive contents. On a Windows machine, simply open Windows Explorer by clicking on the folder icon in your taskbar, or using the keyboard shortcut Win + E.
In the left-hand navigation bar, scroll down until you see 'This PC'. Click on it and you'll see all the storage devices connected to your computer. Double-click on the one labeled Google Drive:
From here, you can navigate to "My Drive" or "Shared Drives", clicking around an interacting with files and folders as if they were actually on your computer.