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How To Setup And Use Google Drive For Desktop

Google Drive for desktop is an increasingly popular method of storing, backing up and syncing files and folders into the cloud. It uses your Google account, which as you probably know, includes 15GB of free storage space.

When you install Google Drive for desktop, it creates a “virtual” drive on your PC, which is accessible through File Explorer. You can save files/folders directly into your Google Drive and also select files and folders to be synced.

You can also choose whether you want those files/folders to be stored both on your computer and in the cloud, or only in the cloud, thus freeing up space on your PC.

Download And Install Google Drive For Desktop.

You’ll need to download and install the Google Drive app for your computer.

You can either click the link below or simply, well, Google it.


Click the Download button and then launch the installer.

Downloading and installing the Google Drive app. The Download button is highlighted.

Before the install process starts, you’ll have two options. Click the Install button when you’re ready.

  1. Add an application shortcut to your desktop. I would suggest that you select this option. Having a shortcut on your desktop is much easier and quicker than having to open File Explorer.
  2. Add desktop shortcuts to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. This one is really up to you. If you use Google’s office software, then select it, if not, deselect it.
Installing Google Drive. Add shortcuts options are both selected and the Install button is marked.

Sign In Through Your Browser

After the app has finished installing, click the Sign In Through Your Browser button.

Google Drive for desktop app will be using your Google account to store all your data. So you’ll need to sign in to allow it.

The "Sign in through your browser" button is marked.

If your already signed in to Google through your browser, just click the account that you want to use. Otherwise you’ll need to enter your account details, i.e. email address and password.

Make sure that you downloaded this app from Google

Once your account details have been authenticated, you’ll see this security notice.

“Don’t sign in to Google Drive for desktop unless you’re sure that you downloaded this app from Google”.

The app will have direct and full access to your Google account. It goes without saying that if you downloaded it from anywhere other than Google click the Cancel button and delete the app.

If you’re happy, click the Sign In button.

Google security warning. The Sign In button is marked.

Just So You Know.

The link I’ve placed above leads directly to Google. It goes to the English-GB site. If you’re reading this from outside the UK, you may be re-directed by Google to your country specific site.


If all goes well, you’ll see the “Success” window.

Google Drive for desktop is now installed and setup on your computer.

If you already have any files/folders stored in Google Drive, they will begin syncing (downloading) into the desktop app.

You have successfully signed in to your Google account.

How To Access The Google Drive App.

Navigating to the Google Drive app is just as easy as using any other folder on your computer. You can either open File Explorer and find it there. Or, if you you selected to place a desktop shortcut during the install process, you can access it by using that.

The Google Drive shortcut is marked on a Windows 11 desktop.
Google Drive is highlighted in File Explorer.

How To Use The Google Drive For Desktop App

Open your new Google Drive, either through File Explorer or by double left clicking the desktop shortcut.

Inside your Google Drive, you’ll find a single folder called My Drive.

All your files and folders will be stored inside the My Drive. So if you already have files stored in Google Drive, they will be synced into this My Drive folder.

My Drive folder highlighted inside the Google Drive.

Any files or folders that you want to sync to your Google account must be saved into the My Drive folder.

To get started, you can simply Copy and Paste anything you want straight into the My Drive folder and they’ll automatically be uploaded to your Google account.

Inside the My Drive folder, you can, of course, create new folders to store your data, just as you would with any other folder on your computer. These too, will be replicated in the cloud.

Saving Files Into Google Drive

When it comes to saving your work, you’ll use your Google Drive just as you would with any other drive attached to your computer.

Simply click the Save or Save As option in the program your working with. Then select Google Drive from the navigation panel and then open your My Drive folder and click the Save button.

Google Drive is marked in navigation panel of File Explorer and the Save button is highlighted.

Save Error In Google Drive

When you’re trying to save a file into Google Drive, you may see this error message “File not found. Check the filename and try again”.

That’s because you’re trying to save the file into the Google Drive but not in your My Drive folder.

Just click the OK button and then open the My Drive folder and the click the Save button.

"File not found. Check the filename and try again" error message when saving files into Google Drive.

Adding Folders To Sync In Google Drive

One of the great features of the Google Drive for desktop app is that you can add (or include) any of your usual Windows folders to be synced with your Google Drive account. To add files/folders you’ll need to open the settings.

To access the settings for Google Drive, click the Hidden Icons arrowhead in the bottom right of your screen, then click the Google Drive icon.

Hidden icons arrowhead and Google drive icon are both indicated with a callout.
Google Drive icon magnified to make it easier to identify.

The Activity and Notifications window will open.

At the top of the window it’ll tell you the name of the Google account and also show you how much space you currently have available.

To access the app’s settings. click the gear wheel in the right hand corner. On the menu that appears, click Preferences.

Google Drive settings icon (gear wheel) indicated.

Google Drive Preferences

To add a folder folder to Google Drive, click the Add Folder button.

Then navigate to and select the folder you want.

Add Folder button marked.

For example, if you wanted to backup and sync your Documents folder, you’d select it and then click the Select Folder button. Note that you don’t have to use the parent folders. You can select the sub folders inside the parent.

Select Sync with Google Drive and click the Done button.

Folder indicated and the Select Folder button is marked.
Done button is indicated in Google drive settings.

As soon as you hit the Done button, your folder will begin syncing with your Google Drive account. If it’s a large folder it might take some time to complete.


Google Drive for Desktop is very similar to Microsoft’s OneDrive. However it does have a couple of advantages, in my opinion anyway. Firstly it comes with 15GB of free storage space, as opposed to OneDrive’s 5GB. That may or may not be an issue for your right now, but it’s worth taking note of.

Secondly, with Google Drive it’s easy to add in extra folders to sync. You can choose just about folder or subfolder. That’s not the case with OneDrive where you’re pretty much stuck with only syncing your Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders.

If you’ve got several devices, then you can either install the app on each of them, or you can simply access your data over the Internet using your browser. For a complete guide to setting up Google Drive click How To Use Google Drive To Backup Your Files And Folders.

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