Google Drive is an incredibly useful tool to make sure your documents are protected from data loss and accessible across devices. However, it’s time-consuming to manually download a file to your PC every time you need it. You may instead be wondering how to sync Google Drive to a Desktop PC, or its gallery app, Google Photos. We’ll be guiding you through the process today using the Google Drive desktop app.
What is Google Drive?
Google Drive is a cloud storage service. It allows you to upload your documents and photos to Google’s servers so that, should anything go wrong with your PC, they won’t be lost. Another benefit to the service is that you can access your files from any device – whether it’s a phone, desktop, or tv with a browser app.
Google Drive for Desktop replaced “Backup and Sync” and “Drive File Stream”
If you used Google Drive back in the day, you may remember Google Drive Backup and Sync and the Drive File Stream apps. These days, though, you can get the functionality of both in a single app named Drive for Desktop.
We’ll be focusing on how to sync Google Drive for Windows today, but it’s worth noting that the process is more or less the same for any OS the Google Drive desktop app supports. Let’s start:
How to Sync Google Drive with Your PC
The Google Drive for Desktop app is a more modern version of the old backup and sync tool that creates a virtual drive rather than a folder to which you can sync your content. Generally, it has more offline functionality, ties in nicely with Google Photos, and integrates with MS Office/Outlook. Here’s how to use it:
- Download the Google Drive desktop app
Visit the Google Drive Desktop download page and press the big blue “Download Drive for Desktop” button. Follow the installer instructions until the app is installed.
- Click the Google Drive icon in your system tray
If you’ve forgotten how to access the system tray, you can do so by pressing the up arrow on the right-hand side of your taskbar.
- Press the settings cog in the Drive flyout and select “Preferences”
- Click “My Laptop” or “Google Drive”
The “My Laptop” tab will allow your add files to upload to your Google Drive account, while the “Google Drive” tab allows you to choose how you’ll access files from your Google Drive account on your computer. You can find more information about each here.
- In the “Google Drive” section, choose whether to stream or mirror your files
To save space, the “Stream files” option doesn’t store all of your files on your PC by default. Instead, it streams files to you over the internet when you need them and allows you to specify some files to keep stored on your PC for offline use.
The Mirror files option works more like the old Backup and Sync, storing all of the files from your Google Drive storage in a folder on your PC so you can access them offline whenever you want.
- Add a folder from your PC to sync to Google Drive
In the “My Laptop” section, press the blue “Add folder” button.
- Navigate to your desired folder in File Explorer and press “Select Folder”
- Choose whether to Sync with Google Drive and/or Google Photos
Read the descriptions of each carefully and press “Done” when you’re finished.
- Add more folders to Google Drive Desktop if necessary and press “Save”
- Check your synced folders
You should see them under the “Google Drive” heading in the “My Laptop” section, along with their size.
- Press the settings cog in the top-right of your Google Drive desktop window
- Scroll to the “Google Photos” section and choose your quality options
When you sync to Google Photos from your PC, you have two options. The original quality option uploads your pictures to your Google Photos storage exactly as they are on your PC.
The “Storage saver” option adds some compression to your images, but it’s barely noticeable. It’s main advantage is that any photos uploading using this method won’t count against your overall Google Drive storage quota.
- Choose the image file types to upload to Google Photos
Further down the Google Photos preferences section you’ll find a “File types” heading. This is particularly important to pay attention to if you’re a photographer.
Here you can tick the option to upload RAW files, a file format that comes straight out of your camera that allows you to change the colors and contrast of your image more without artifacts. You can also choose whether to upload screenshots, as in most cases you won’t need them long-term.
Finally, press “Done”.
- Open Google Drive app on PC
With that done, it’s time to have a look at our Google Drive Sync content. Press the “Start” button and type “Google Drive”, then click on the top result.
- Double click the “My Drive” icon to view your Google Drive for Windows content
How to Edit Google Docs Offline or Create Your Own Virtual Hard Disk
Now you know how to sync Google Drive to your desktop for easy access to its files. If you don’t want to sync everything, however, and instead are looking to simply edit Google Docs offline, you may be better served by this guide.
Meanwhile, if your interest was peaked by the mention of virtual drives, you can create your own in Windows 10. Unlike Google Drive’s they’ll actually show up in disk manager and can have several benefits.