What can you do with Drive?

With Google Drive, you can upload and store all of your files online. You can then share these files with your team and access them from any computer, smartphone, or tablet.

What you need:

account_circle G Suite account

schedule 10 minutes

Switching from a different cloud storage solution?

Learn more from these guides:

What can you do with Google Drive
1

Upload and store

You can store any file in Drive: pictures, drawings, videos, and more. You only need to store a file in Drive on one device, and it will automatically be available on all your other devices. There are three ways to get your files into Drive.

In this section, you learn how to:

1.1

Upload files to Drive on the web

One way to store files in Drive is to upload a copy of them using your web browser:

  1. Go to Drive.
  2. Click NEW, select File upload or Folder upload, and then choose the file or folder you want to upload.
  3. Click Open.
Upload files

If you’re using the latest version of Chrome or Firefox®, you can simply drag files directly from your computer to the Drive page on your browser.

If you upload a file that matches the name of an existing file, Drive will add it as a new version, instead of creating a duplicate. To see the previous version of that file, manage versions.

When you see Upload complete, your files have uploaded successfully and can be accessed in any browser or device that has Drive installed.

1.2

Store files using a desktop sync client

If you like to open and work on files from your desktop and also store them in Drive, install Google Drive for Mac/PC. This desktop sync client is convenient for storing a large collection of files that would otherwise take a long time to upload.

(If you decide later to uninstall the client, your Drive files won’t be affected and can still be accessed from Drive on the web.)

Google Drive for Mac/PC is only available if your G Suite administrator has turned it on for your organization or team.

To use the client, you install Drive on your computer, which creates a desktop folder named Google Drive. This folder works like any other folder on your computer, except that anything you put in it automatically syncs to the web and to any other devices with Drive installed.

Install Drive

Install Drive on your computer:

  1. Go to the Drive download page.
  2. Click Download Drive and select Mac and PC.
  3. Click Accept and Install.
  4. Follow the instructions to install Drive.

Move files to the Drive desktop folder:

Now that you’ve installed Drive on your computer, you can store files right from your desktop.

  1. Decide which files you want to store in Drive.
  2. Organize the files in folders the way you want them to appear in Drive.
  3. Move the files and folders into the Drive folder on your computer. From now on, these files exist in the Drive folder and are synced with other devices that also have Drive installed.

If your Internet connection breaks or you need to go offline in the middle of a sync, Google Drive for Mac/PC picks up where it left off when you’re back online.

Move files
1.3

Upload files from your phone or tablet

You can also use the Drive app to store files on your Android or iOS device. (If you decide later to uninstall the app, your Drive files won’t be affected and can still be accessed from Drive on the web.)

  1. Depending on your device, choose one of these options:
    • Android phone or tablet: Tap Google Play Google Play store icon.
    • iOS devices: Tap App Store App Store.
  2. Find and install the Google Drive app.
  3. Open the app containing the file you want to upload, tap Share, and then tap Drive.
Upload files from your phone or tablet
2

Sync and access

Before Drive, if you wanted to access files from different computers or devices, you typically had to make separate copies. Updating one copy meant you had to manually update all the other versions, too. Drive simplifies your work by automatically synchronizing the latest version of your file across the web and all your devices.

After you store your files in Drive, you can reach them on any computer, smartphone, or tablet. When you change or delete a file stored in one location, Drive makes the same change everywhere else, so you don’t have to.

In this section, you learn how to:

2.1

Check your sync status

web On the web: When you see Upload complete, your files have uploaded successfully and can be accessed in any browser or device that has Drive installed.

desktop_windows On your computer: Dragging files to your Drive folder automatically syncs them with Drive on the web (though it might take a moment for files to sync).

Files with autorenew haven’t been synced to Drive yet.

Files with done have synced successfully and can be accessed from Drive in any browser or from any device with Drive installed.

Check your sync status
2.2

Access your files from any device

After your files sync, you can access them from any browser or device.

Browser or device

Requirements

How to access

Browser or device

web Web browser (any device)

Requirements

Install any web browser.

How to access

Browser or device

desktop_windows Desktop computer

Requirements

Install Drive for Mac/PC at https://www.google.com/drive/download.

How to access

Open the Drive folder on your desktop.

Browser or device

smartphone Mobile and tablet devices

Requirements

Install the Drive app from the Play Store (Android) or App Store (iOS).

How to access

Open the Drive app on your smartphone or tablet.

2.3

Access your files offline

Chrome browser only

Internet outages and long plane rides shouldn’t prevent you from working in Drive.

Set up offline access so that the next time you don’t have Internet access, you can view Google documents, shuffle folders around, and edit files stored in your Drive folder.

  1. In Drive, click Settings settings and select Settings.
  2. In the Offline section, check the box.
  3. Click Done.

Note: To make sure other people can’t see your files, set up offline access on computers that only belong to you.

Access your files offline
3.1

Preview and download stored files

web On the web:

To take a quick look at a Drive file, right-click it and select Preview.

In the overlay, you can:

  • Scroll through your file.
  • Click Left arrow arrow_back_ios or Right arrow arrow_forward_ios to preview your previous or next file in Drive.
  • Click View all items to select and preview another file in Drive.
  • Share your file with others.
  • Print your file.
  • Open your file to edit it.
  • Click Download file_download to download your file.
  • Click Close close to exit the preview.
  • Click Add to My Drive add_to_drive to add the file to My Drive.
  • Click More more_vert to rename a file or if it’s in My Drive, move it to another folder.

To save a file to access later, download it one of the following ways:

  1. From the preview screen, click Download file_download.
  2. From Drive, select a file, click More more_vert, and select Download file_download.
Preview and download stored files

Drive on the web

3.2

Open your files

web On the web:

Double-click the file you want to open.

desktop_windows On your computer:

Open your files straight from your computer’s Drive folder.

a Files in your Drive folder created by Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms open in your browser.

b Other files in your Drive folder open in their regular applications on your computer.

Open files from your computer

Drive on your computer

3.3

Update Drive files

web On the web:

To manage versions of files that weren’t created in Docs, Sheets, or Slides:

  1. Right-click the file and select Manage versions.
  2. Click Upload new version and select a file from your computer.
  3. When the new version is done uploading, click Close.

Now you can keep all of your drafts in a single file.

desktop_windows On your computer:

To update a file, just open it from your computer’s Drive folder. Make your changes, and they’ll automatically sync with Drive on the web.

It works the other way around, too. Changes you make in Drive on the web sync back to your computer. Your files and folders are now up to date everywhere.

Update Drive files

Drive on the web

3.4

Delete your files

If you remove a file you own in Drive on any device, it is automatically removed from Drive on all of your devices and on the web.

Note: Removed files you own are moved to Trash in Drive and still count towards your total storage, until you permanently delete them on the web.

web On the web:

Select the files or folders you want to remove and click Remove delete.

Delete files permanently: To permanently delete a file when you’re in Trash, select the file and click Delete forever. To permanently delete all your Trash files, click Trash and select Empty trash.

desktop_windows On your computer:

Just select the files or folders you want to remove and delete them as you would any other file on your computer.

Delete your files

Drive on the web

3.5

Restore deleted files

If you change your mind, you can restore removed files to Drive.

web On the web: From your Drive’s “Trash”, select the files you want to restore and click Restore.

desktop_windows On your computer: Files you remove from your computer’s Drive folder go to your recycling bin. You can restore them as you would any other file on your computer.

Note: Files restored from your computer’s recycling bin re-sync to Drive as new files. On the web, you see the restored file in your My Drive folder; a copy of the removed file stays in “Trash”.

Restore deleted files

Drive on the web

4

Organize and search

Now that all your files are in Drive, here are some of the key ways you can stay organized.

In this section, you learn how to:

4.1

Create folders

Any new folders you create in your computer’s Drive folder or in Drive on the web automatically appear on your devices so that you’re organized everywhere.

web On the web:

Click New and select Folder.

desktop_windows On your computer:

Create new folders in your computer’s Drive folder the same way you create other folders on your computer.

Create folders
4.2

Move files to folders

Organize your Drive files by moving them to folders.

web On the web:

Move a file in My Drive:

  1. Select the file.
  2. Click More more_vert > Move to drive_file_move.
  3. Select the folder and click Move here.

You can also drag files and folders to a folder in My Drive on the left.

Move files to folders

Drive on the web

Organize files in the Search results, Recent, Starred, Shared with me views:

Note: If you move a file under Shared with me, it only moves your copy.

  1. Select the file and if it’s not in My Drive, click Add to My Drive add_to_drive.
  2. Click Move to drive_file_move, select the folder, and click Move here.

desktop_windows On your computer:

Select the files you want to move and drag them to any folder in Drive, the same way you’d move any other file on your computer.

4.3

Star important files and folders

web On the web:

Flag important files or folders to find them quickly later. Just right-click a file or folder and select Add star.

To see all your starred files and folders, in the left sidebar, click Starred.

Star important files and folders

Drive on the web

4.4

Search and sort your files and folders

web On the web:

It can be difficult to browse through hundreds of files just to find the one you need. So, try searching Drive instead.

In Drive’s search box, type a word or phrase. To help you search faster, Drive suggests search terms as you type. Click one of the suggestions to open it, or click Search search to see a list of results.

  • Advanced search options: In the search box, click the Down arrow arrow_drop_down to see the search options. Choose any option or combination of options to filter your results further.
  • Sorting options: Click Sort options sort_by_alpha to sort files in any of these ways:
  • Last modified—See items that were recently modified by anyone (not just you). This might help you keep track of things that your collaborators have recently changed.
  • Last edited by me—See the files or folder that you’ve changed.
  • Last opened by me—Find files you recently opened, regardless of whether you’ve edited them. This is a great way to get back to items you were recently viewing, if you accidentally closed a tab in your browser, or if you didn’t bookmark something.
  • Name—See your files in alphabetical order.
Search and sort your files and folders

Drive on the web

5

Share and collaborate

After you share Drive files or folders, you can work on them with teammates or even people outside of your company.

In this section, you learn how to:

5.1

Share files and set access levels and visibility

web On the web:

Share a file you own or can edit:

  1. Select the file or folder you want to share.
  2. Click Share person_add.
  3. In the Share with others box:
    1. Enter the email addresses or Google Groups you want to share with.
    2. Choose what kind of access you want to grant:
      • Can edit—Collaborators can add and edit content as well as add comments.
      • Can comment (Select files only)—Collaborators can add comments, but not edit content.
      • Can view—People can view the file, but not edit or add comments.
    3. If you want to control how visible your files are to other people, such as keeping them completely private or allowing anyone on the web to see them, click Advanced > Change and choose an option. The options available will depend on your admin’s settings for your organization.
  4. Click Done.

Everyone you shared the document with will receive an email notification. After you've shared a file, you can get the link by selecting the file and clicking Get shareable link link.

Stop sharing a file or folder you own:

  1. In Drive, select the shared file or folder.
  2. Click Share person_add.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Next to the person you want to stop sharing the file or folder with, click Remove close.
  5. Click Save changes.
Share files and set access levels and visibility

Drive on the web

5.2

View Drive activity

web On the web:

Keep track of changes to items created in or uploaded to Drive, such as:

  • Uploading, moving, and removing
  • Sharing and unsharing
  • Renaming, editing, and commenting
  • Who made the change
  • People affected by the change

To view all activity in My Drive, click View details info.

To view the activity for a specific file or folder, select the file or folder and click View details info.

View Drive activity

Google Drive on the web

5.3

Collaborate with Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms

web On the web:

In Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms, you can work together in the same document in real time. Commenting on any file brings a conversation into context so you avoid back-and-forth email and lost time.

Just click New and select one of the file types below. Now all you need to do is share the file with your team to collaborate on a draft or key issue.

Collaborate with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms

Drive on the web

Editor

Description

Example uses

Editor

docs Google Docs

Description

Text documents

Example uses

Proposals, reports, shared meeting notes

Editor

sheets Google Sheets

Description

Spreadsheets

Example uses

Project plans, budget sheets

Editor

slides Google Slides

Description

Presentations

Example uses

Pitch decks, training modules, team presentations

Editor

forms Google Forms

Description

Surveys

Example uses

Customer satisfaction surveys, group polls

Editor

drawings Google Drawings

Description

Shapes, charts, and diagrams

Example uses

Flowcharts, organizational charts, website wireframes, mind maps

Editor

sites Google Sites

Description

Websites

Example uses

Team sites, project sites, resume sites

Next steps

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