What can you do with Drive?

With Google Drive, you can store all your files in the cloud, including photos, Microsoft® Word® documents, Excel® spreadsheets, and more. You can also make changes to a Word file using Google Docs, or convert your Word files to Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

You can open your files from your computer’s Drive folder on the desktop or from your browser. Files you create with Google Docs open in your browser or mobile app. Other files in your Drive folder will open in their regular applications (like Adobe® Reader® for PDF® files) on your computer.

What you need:

account_circle G Suite account

schedule 10 minutes

Switching from a different cloud storage solution?

Learn more from these guides:

Not sure whether to use My Drive or Team Drives?

For a comparison of My Drive and Team Drives, see the Drive FAQ What's the difference between My Drive and Team Drives.

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.

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, you can 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.

Upload files
1.2

Store files on your desktop

Note: If you’re using Backup and Sync backup instead of Drive File Stream, see Back up and sync files with Google Drive.

If you want to work on files from your desktop, install Drive File Stream. Your files live in the cloud and you access them on demand. This frees up space on your computer’s hard drive, saves network bandwidth, and means less time waiting for files to sync. You can also make files in Drive available offline, and they’ll sync to the cloud when you’re back online.

After you install Drive File Stream, you access My Drive from My Computer (Microsoft® Windows) or Finder (iOS®) like any regular folder. You can then move your files to Drive, where it will sync to the cloud and free up your computer space.

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

Drive File Stream is only available if your G Suite administrator has turned it on for your organization or team.

Install Drive File Stream:

  1. On your computer, follow the installation instructions in the Drive Help Center. You'll then see Drive File Stream drive_file_stream at the bottom right on Windows or at the top right on Mac.
  2. Click Drive File Stream drive_file_stream.
  3. Click Open Google Drive Folder folder_mydrive to access your Drive files and folders.

When you install Drive File Stream on your computer, it creates a drive in Microsoft® Windows® Explorer or a device in Apple® Mac® Finder® named Google Drive. All your Drive files appear here.

Install Drive

Move files to a folder:

  1. Decide which files you want to store in Drive.
  2. (Optional) Organize the files in folders the way you want them to appear in Drive.
  3. Click Drive File Stream drive_file_stream.
  4. Click Open Google Drive Folder folder_mydrive.
  5. Move the files and folders into a folder. From now on, these files exist in the Drive folder and are synchronized 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, Drive File Stream picks up where it left off when you’re back online.

Pause syncing:

  1. Click Drive File Stream drive_file_stream.
  2. Click More more_vert > Pause Syncing.

When paused, Drive File Stream won't upload local changes to Google Drive, and new versions of files made available offline won't be downloaded. Click Resume Syncing to start sync back up.

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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

Access your files

You can access your documents in Drive wherever you go—on your computer, phone, or tablet. When you finish making your changes, Drive automatically syncs the latest changes. So if you open the same document from another device, all the changes you made appear.

In this section, you learn how to:

2.1

Check your sync status

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.

On your computer

Dragging files to a folder in Drive File Stream automatically uploads them to Drive on the web (though it might take a moment for files to sync).

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

Files with done have uploaded 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 Computer

Requirements

Install Drive File Stream from the Drive Help Center.

How to access

Click Drive File Stream drive_file_stream and then Open Google Drive folder_mydrive.

Browser or device

smartphone Mobile devices

Requirements

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

How to access

Open the Drive app on your device.

2.3

Access your files offline

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 your documents, shuffle folders around, and edit files stored in Drive.

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

On the web

Chrome browser only

Set up offline access for Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides: 

  1. In Drive, click Settings settings > Settings.
  2. In the Offline section, check the Sync Google files box.
  3. Click Done.

To set up offline access on mobile devices, see Access stored Drive files without the internet.

Access your files offline

On your computer

Set up offline access for PDFs, Microsoft® Office® files, and more on your desktop:

  1. Click Drive File Stream drive_file_stream.
  2. Click Open Google Drive folder_mydrive.
  3. Right-click the file or folder you want to access offline.
  4. Click Drive File Stream > Available offline.
3.1

Preview and download stored files on the web

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

In the overlay, you can:

  • Scroll down or up in your file.
  • Click Left arrow arrow_back_ios or Right arrow arrow_forward_ios to see the previous or next file in Drive.
  • Open your file to edit it.
  • Print your file.
  • Click Download file_download to download your file.
  • Click More more_vert to share, move, rename a file, and more.

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

  • From the preview screen, click Download file_download.
  • From Drive, select a file, click More more_vert, and select Download file_download.
Preview and download stored files
3.2

Open your files

On the web

In Drive, double-click the file you want to open.

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On your computer

  1. Click Drive File Stream drive_file_stream.
  2. Click Open Google Drive folder_mydrive.
  3. Double-click the file you want to open.
    • Files created by Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms open in your browser.
    • Other files open in their regular applications on your computer.
3.3

Update Drive files

On the web

To restore an earlier version of a file that wasn'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.
Update Drive files

On your computer

To update a file, just open it from Drive File Stream drive_file_stream on your desktop. Make your changes. They’ll automatically update to 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.

3.4

Delete your files

If you remove a file you own in Drive on any device, it's 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.

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.

Delete your files

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.

3.5

Restore deleted files

If you change your mind after deleting a file or folder, you can restore it to Drive. Whether you delete it from Drive on the web or from your computer in Drive File Stream, you restore it the same way.

On the web

Open Drive and click Trash delete. Select the files you want to restore and click Restore.

Restore deleted files
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 File Stream folders or in Drive on the web automatically appear on your devices so that you’re organized everywhere.

On the web

In Drive, click New > Folder.

On your computer

Using Drive File Stream, create new folders in Google Drive (My Drive or Team Drives) the same way you create other folders on your computer.

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4.2

Move files to folders

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 or Move here.

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

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 or Move here.

Make a copy of a shared file:

  1. In Shared with me, right-click a file and select Make a copy.
  2. (Optional) To move the file:
    1. In the pop-up window at the bottom, click Locate.
    2. Right-click the file and click Move to drive_file_move.

 

Move files to folders

On your computer

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

4.3

Star important files and folders

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
4.4

Search and sort your files and folders

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

Search for files or folders in Drive:

  • 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 a folder in Drive:

You can only search folders that are in My Drive or Team Drives. If you want to search a folder that is shared with you, you need to add the folder to My Drive first.

  1. In the search box, click the Down arrow arrow_drop_down and in the Advanced search window, go to the Location field.
  2. (Optional) To search for a specific word or phrase related to the file or folder, enter the word or phrase in the search box.
  3. Next to Location, click Anywhere and choose the location you want to search.
  4. When you find the folder you want to search, click Select.
  5. Click SEARCH to open the folder and search for your file.
Search and sort your files and folders
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

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:
      • Is owner (Files you own only)—You can make someone else the owner. You still have edit access, unless the new owner changes your permission.
      • Can edit—Collaborators can add and edit content as well as add comments.
      • Can comment (Select files only)—Collaborators can add comments, but can't 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 get an email notification. After you share a file, you can get the link to it by selecting the file and clicking 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. At the bottom, 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
5.2

View Drive activity and file details

On the web

You can keep track of changes to items created in or uploaded to Drive. You can also see specific information about your files and folders. To view the activity for a specific file or folder, select the file or folder and click Information info.

Activity tab:

You can see changes to items in Drive, such as:

  • Who uploaded, copied, moved, or removed the item.
  • Who shared or unshared the item.
  • Who commented in, edited or renamed the item.
  • People affected by the change.

Details tab:

  1. At the top of the Activity pane, click Details to see information and changes, such as:
    • File type and owner.
    • Folder size and number of items.
    • Person who last modified, created, or opened the item.
  2. Click Edit create to add a description of the item.
View Drive activity
5.3

Collaborate with Google Docs editors

On the web

In Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Google Sites, 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

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

Try it now
Get more training

Access Drive files when you're offline, learn keyboard shortcuts, and more.