Use Google Drive to store and access your files, folders, and Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides anywhere. Change a file on the web, your computer, tablet, or your mobile device, and it updates on every device where you’ve installed Google Drive. You’ll always have the latest version of your files and Google Docs at your fingertips. Read, edit, share, and collaborate wherever you are!
- In your browser, go to drive.google.com.
When you first access Google Drive on the web, you’ll see a Welcome page. If you’ve previously used Google Docs, Google Drive on the web will look something like this:
- Download and install Google Drive for your Mac/PC. (Or your administrator might do this for you.) This lets you sync files from your computer to Google Drive on the web, giving you access to your files on any device, at any time. Syncing is built-in—you don't have to do anything to set it up other than connect to the Internet.
Note: The link to download and install Google Drive for your Mac/PC might be disabled in your organization. If it’s not available or if you choose not to install it, Google Drive on the web still provides access to all your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and any files that you manually upload.
Once installed, you can find Google Drive for your Mac/PC in your Windows system tray or Mac menu bar. Here’s how it looks on the Windows system tray:
Click the icon to see sync status, access your Google Drive folder on your computer or on the web, pause the sync, set preferences, and more. Here’s how it looks on a Mac:
You can also access Google Drive files on your Android or iOS device. See Google Drive on a mobile device to learn how.
Get to know your Drive
There are lots of ways to view your files, folders, and Google documents in Google Drive on the web. Let’s take a quick look around.
When you first get Google Drive on the web, all the files and folders you’ve uploaded and Google Docs that you own are in the section called My Drive:
Click the New button to upload more files and folders to My Drive.
If you or your administrator installed Google Drive for your Mac/PC, the contents of My Drive will sync with the contents of a folder called Google Drive on your computer. Only the contents of My Drive are synced.
You can move files that have been shared with you to My Drive if you want them to sync to your computer and mobile devices. You can also add new files to My Drive by moving or saving files to the Google Drive folder on your computer. In a nutshell: everything you put in Google Drive on your computer can also be found in My Drive on the web and mobile devices, and vice-versa. We’ll demonstrate how that works in just a bit.
Incoming is where you’ll find the files, folders, and Google documents that have been shared with you:
Incoming only shows items that were shared with you explicitly. You won’t find items here that were shared with the “Public” or “Anyone with the link.” (You can find those items by searching in the All items view.) If you’ll be referencing a shared document often, you can drag it into My Drive so that it appears there as well.
Are you looking for a folder that was shared with you? Click Sort > Title in the Shared with me view to put all the folders that were shared with you first.
Click Starred to see all the items you’ve marked with a star. Just click the star to the left of an item to mark it. Stars are like “bookmarks” or “favorites” in a browser to mark web sites you want to access frequently.
Use the Recent view to see all the private and shared files that you've opened, in reverse chronological order. This is a great way to quickly find your most current stuff.
Trash contains everything you’ve deleted. To delete an item, check the item and click the trash icon that appears:
Note: You can only trash items that you own. For items you don't own, click More > Remove to take them out of your Google Drive, but not remove them for everyone else.
Your trash is never automatically emptied, so you’ll probably want to clean it out once in a while. Items in your Trash still count toward your storage quota, so this helps free up some space. To clean it out:
- In the Trash view, click Empty trash to permanently delete everything:
- Or, check individual items and click Delete forever:
Tip: Notice that after you select items in the trash, you can also choose to restore them from the More menu.
Add files and folders to Drive
When you’re ready to create new documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, just click the red Create button and select an app from the list to get started.
See Using Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to learn more about using these Google productivity apps.
Do you have existing files and folders you want to add to Google Drive? You can easily sync or upload those files to add them to Google Drive on the web and your mobile devices. Here’s how it works:
If you or your administrator has installed Google Drive for Mac/PC, anything you add to the Google Drive folder on your computer will automatically sync to My Drive on the web and your mobile devices. So all you need to do is move or save files to the Google Drive folder. For example:
- In Microsoft Word, save your document to the Google Drive folder:
That’s it! Now you can access your Word document in Google Drive on the web and your mobile devices:
It’s also easy to upload existing files and folders to Google Drive on the web. Here’s how to upload a file (folders work the same way):
- In Google Drive on the web, click the red Upload button and then select Files:
- Select the file (or files) you want to upload and click Open. Here’s how it might look on Windows:
That’s all you need to do. As soon as the upload completes, you’ll see the file in My Drive:
So far we’ve seen how files look in Google Drive using the default List mode. This is the most compact way to view your files. If you’d prefer to see a preview of each file in Google Drive, click the Switch to Grid icon in the upper-right of Google Drive on the web:
Now your files are displayed in a grid of thumbnail previews. This can help you locate a file without having to open each one. You can also select files and folders to make changes.
To return to the List mode, click the Switch to List icon:
However, if you like to work in List mode and want to see a visual preview of a file, you can do that too!
- Right-click a file.
- Hover over Open with .
- Select Preview from the drop-down menu.
- Your file or document is displayed as an overlay:
- In Preview mode, you can:
- Scroll through your displayed document
- Preview the previous or next document in your Drive
- Select another document from your Drive to preview by clicking View all
- Share your document with others
- Print your document
- Open your document to edit it
- Download your document
- Exit the preview by click the X
If you have a lot of files, it can get harder to keep track of them. One way to make your files easier to find is to sort them. Click the Sort menu to see your options:
The sort options above are available in most Google Drive views. However, the Activity view is automatically sorted in the order of when things were last modified, so you won’t see the Sort menu there. In the Recent view you can sort items by when you last opened or edited them.
Here are a few sorting tips:
- Sort by Last modified to 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.
- Use Last opened by me to find things you’ve recently opened, regardless of whether you’ve edited them. This is a great way to get back to items you were recently looking at if you accidentally closed a tab in your browser or you didn’t bookmark something.
- Sort by Title if you know the name of something and want to scan an alphabetical list to find it. This puts all folders first in My Drive and Shared with me, so it’s also a good way to find folders.
- Sort by Quota used to see which files are taking up the most space. To free up storage space, you can delete files by moving them to the Trash, but don’t forget to permanently delete them from the Trash view if you need more storage space.
Note that only synced or uploaded files take up storage space. Files shared with you and Google documents (such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides) don't take up any of your storage space. Items that don't count toward your storage will show as "---" in Google Drive:
Do you need extra storage? You can purchase additional storage, but check with your system administrator first. Your organization might do that for you!
Type a word or phrase in Drive’s search box to find a specific file, folder, or Google document. As you’re typing, Drive will try to predict what you are looking for and give you a list to choose from.
Narrow your search results
- In the search box, click the down arrow to see advanced search options:
- Click any search option to narrow your search.
You can repeat steps 1 and 2 multiple times to further filter your results. For example, maybe you know the file you want is a spreadsheet that you don’t own. Click those options and your search box will look like this:
Click the x on an option to remove that filter, or click the big X on the right to clear the entire search.
- At this point you might already see what you’re looking for. If not, type a search query and click the blue search button.
If you want to search articles that are shared with your domain, click Search <your domain> instead of the blue Search button. This is a good way to find a document that is public to your organization, but hasn’t been shared with you directly.
You probably have a lot of files in My Drive, or will soon. Use folders to organize the contents, just like you do on your computer.
- Click the red Create button and then select Folder:
- Enter a name for the folder and click OK. Your new folder is created in My Drive:
If you’re displaying My Drive, (or a folder within My Drive), you can also click the New folder icon to create a folder in your current location:
Move files to a folder
- Check the box by the item (or items) you want to move.
- Click the icon that looks like a folder:
- In the Move to dialog, select the folder where you’d like to move your items, or create a new folder for them.
Do you want to store your file (or files) in multiple folders? Use the Ctrl or Command key to check all the places where you want to find your items.
- Click Move.
You can share a folder, just as easily as you share your Google documents.
- Check the box next to the file or folder you'd like to share.
- Click Share and add the people or Groups you’d like to share the folder with.
Once the folder is shared with others, it will have a person icon on it.
See Sharing and Collaboration to learn about your sharing options.