Google Drive on Mac

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With the Google Drive desktop app, the contents of your Google Drive appears on your Mac like a regular drive. The files are not all copied to your computer but available on-demand, like a server. This saves a lot of space on your drive and almost eliminates sync errors.

Look for Google Drive in your Mac’s top menu bar. It’s a white triangle inside a dark square. If it’s there, skip to Accessing Files below.

Configuring Google Drive the first time

Google Drive may already be installed on your computer. Click the Spotlight (magnifying glass icon) and search for Google Drive. Or click the Finder desktop, click the Go menu at the top of the screen and choose Applications. If you found it, open and skip to 3 below.

  1. Need to download Google Drive? Click this link to sign into your Google account and download.
  2. Follow the steps to install from a disk image download. You’ll open the installer icon that looks like a package.
  3. Open Google Drive from Spotlight or Applications folder (see above).
  4. Was a system extension blocked? Click Open Security Preferences (or click the Apple menu, choose System Preferences and Security & Privacy). Click General then Allow. You may need to type an admin password. Now restart the computer and open Google Drive from Spotlight or Applications folder again.
  5. Click the Google Drive icon in the top menu bar and sign into Google Drive with your email address and password.
  6. Google Drive is added to the desktop. You can also add it to the dock – just drag it from the desktop to the right side of the dock near the trash.

Accessing files in your Google Drive

  1. Click the Google Drive icon in the menu bar, desktop or sidebar. Can’t find it? Click the Spotlight (magnifying glass icon) and search for Google Drive. If you have trouble, see Configuring the first time above.
  2. Your files are inside My Drive, which is in the Google Drive icon. Copy files & folders to your Google Drive and they are uploaded. You can then delete the original copies. Create folders inside and organize just like any drive. You may also save files directly to Google Drive from any application – it’s a drive in the left side bar of open & save windows.
  3. Folders with a cloud icon are available as long as you’re online. Files will be automatically downloaded when you open them, and uploaded when you save.
  4. Need to access files when you don’t have internet? You can choose folders for offline-access. Hold the Control key and click a folder inside your Google Drive. Choose Google Drive and Available Offline. Any changes you (or others) make will not be updated until you’re connected to the internet again. Be selective about which files/folders you make available offline.
  5. Collaborate with Shared Drives. When you add items to a shared drive, they’re shared with other people. Be careful: removing items may delete them from other people’s computers & devices.
  6. Google Docs are special icons that open in a web browser so you can edit Google Docs, Sheets & Slides on the web.

Recommended Google Drive Desktop settings

Click the Google Drive icon in the top menu bar, then the gear and Preferences. Click the gear in the next window and set options as follows.

  • Real-time presence – check See if someone else is editing a shared Microsoft Office file.
  • Spotlight integration – check Enable Spotlight to search streaming files
  • Google Drive streaming location – check Show Google Drive in Favorites in Finder
  • Google Photos – uncheck Upload photos, Upload screenshots and Upload RAW files
  • Launch Google Drive on system startup – needs to be checked or you’ll have to open Google Drive manually from the Applications
  • Notification – uncheck Prompt me to back up devices

Google Drive tips

There’s so much you can do with Google Drive. If you sometimes use Windows, install the Google Drive app on your PC. It’s also an easy way to share files between your computer, iPhone and iPad.

Learn more about using Google apps with a Mac.

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