Getting started with Google Drive for desktop

Do you or your organisation store non-Google files (such as Microsoft Office files) in Google Drive? If so, you’ve probably found it frustrating to have to download and upload these files every time you want to open or edit them. Drive for desktop can solve this frustration for good by giving you a seamless way to work with non-Google files in their native applications. In this post, I’ll explain what Drive for desktop is, how to install it and how to use it.

What is Drive for desktop?

Drive for desktop is an application that gives you access to your Google Drive files from the file explorer on your Mac or PC. With Drive for desktop, you can choose to download all Google Drive files on to your computer or choose to stream files directly from the cloud to your device when you need it (i.e. when you open them). This latter option avoids filling up the disk space on your device and causing network bandwidth issues.

Drive for desktop can be used to access all files in both your My Drive and Shared Drives.

How can Drive for desktop help me work with non-Google files?

Drive for desktop is particularly useful if you store non-Google files in your Google Drive (e.g. Microsoft Office files, PDFs, Photoshop files etc.). By using Drive for desktop you can:

  • Easily open and work on non-Google files in their native applications: For example, you can open a Word file in Microsoft Word and make changes. When you save the file, the changed version will be automatically uploaded back to Google Drive. This eliminates the need to download and upload non-Google files.
  • See when other people are editing Microsoft Office files stored in Google Drive: Drive for desktop has a real-time presence feature that can show you when other people are making changes to a Microsoft Office file. This helps prevent version conflicts.
  • Access non-Google files offline: Even if you choose the stream files option, you can nominate specific folders and files to be available via Drive for desktop when you are offline.

Installing Drive for desktop on Windows

These instructions are for installing Drive for desktop on a Windows device. If you are using a Mac, please refer to this Google help article.
Note: Not all organisations permit their users to install or use Drive for desktop. If you are unable to install the application using the instructions below, please contact your organisation’s IT support team for assistance.

1. Open your Google Drive and click the Settings (cog) button > Get Drive for desktop.

Tip: If you do not see this link, you can access it directly here.

2. Expand the ‘Download & install Google Drive for desktop’ section and click the Download for Windows button.
3. Once the file has downloaded, click on the name of the downloaded file in the bottom left corner of Chrome to start the installation.
Note: This assumes you are using Google Chrome. If you are using another browser, you may be automatically prompted to begin the installation, or need to click somewhere different.

4. The download and install application will launch. After the process is complete, you will be prompted to sign in to Drive File Stream. Enter your username and password to sign in.

5. After sign in is complete, Drive for desktop will launch with a brief introduction. Click the arrow button to scroll through the information and learn more about Drive for desktop.

6.  The Google Drive folder will display in Windows Explorer. In the image below, it is the ‘G’ drive on my computer. However, the letter assigned to Drive File Stream on your computer may be different.

Drive for desktop folder on Windows


Open non-Google files in their native applications using Drive for desktop

Opening files
To open a file from Drive for desktop, access your ‘G’ drive (or similar) using Windows Explorer and open the desired non-Google file. It will load in its native application.

Saving files
This is the easy bit! Simply save your files as you normally would in their native applications. You can check that they have been synced back to Google Drive by clicking on the Drive for desktop icon in the Windows system tray.


Drive for desktop icon in system tray

Viewing real-time presence of other editors in Microsoft Office

The real-time presence feature allows you to see when Microsoft Office files accessed via Drive for desktop are being used by other, and when it is safe to edit them. This feature will also manage any version conflicts that do occur.

Enabling real-time presence
For this feature to work effectively, every person editing the file needs to be using Drive for desktop and have the real-time presence feature enabled. To check if it is enabled for you:
1. Click the Drive for desktop icon in the Windows system tray (see image above).
2. Click the Settings (cog) button > Preferences.
3. Click the Settings (cog button) again.
4.  Ensure the option See if someone else is editing a shared Microsoft Office file is ticked. Click Done.


Drive for desktop preference screen

Using real-time presence

Notifications about the activity of other people who are accessing the file will be shown in the bottom right corner of the Microsoft Office application.

When no-one else is editing the file, you will see the ‘Safe to edit’ notification.

When someone else is editing the file, you will see the ‘Wait to edit’ notification.

After they have finished editing, you will be notified that a new version has been created. Click Get Latest to display the new version.

If multiple people do edit the file simultaneously, you will be notified and prompted to compare versions.

In the comparison view, you can copy and paste your changes into the new document version and save the changes. You can also save your own copy of the file as a different version.


Accessing non-Google files offline in Drive for desktop

To access non-Google files offline via Drive for desktop, you must make them available offline while you still have internet access. You can do this for individual files or entire folders of files.
Note: Drive File Stream does not make Google files (e.g. Google Docs) accessible offline . To access these files offline, you need to enable offline mode in Google Drive.

To mark files or folders for offline access:
1. Navigate to the Drive for desktop folder on your computer.
2. Locate the file or folder you want to access offline.
3. Right-click the file/folder, select Offline access > Available offline.

You can learn more about working offline in Google Workspace in this blog post.

Found this blog post useful? Enquire today about our Google Drive training for organisations.


Related Post

The right ways to enable AI at work – Tips for IT Lead

In today’s fast-paced workplace, maximizing efficiency while minimizing time spent on repetitive tasks is crucial. However, many staff members may feel unsure about integrating AI effectively, leading to missed productivity opportunities. As the IT lead, you can guide your team in harnessing AI’s power to streamline operations and save time. By providing clear guidance and


Streamline Your Workflow: Upgrade to Microsoft Graph PowerShell now!

Are you wondering what to do now that Azure AD, Azure AD Preview and MSOnline PowerShell modules are officially deprecated? It’s time to upgrade to Microsoft Graph PowerShell for a seamless experience! Simplify Your Workflow with Microsoft Graph PowerShell With the official deprecation of Azure AD, Azure AD Preview, and MSOnline PowerShell modules Microsoft Graph


Embracing Technological Change: A Leadership Guide

In today’s fast-paced world, technological advancements are reshaping industries at an unprecedented rate. As leaders, it’s crucial to navigate these transformations effectively and inspire our teams not only to adapt but thrive. The challenge comes when we want to integrate the authentic use and integration of technology as part of this change. Here are three


How well do you use the
Apple Apps Google Workspace Microsoft 365
tools in your workplace?

Find out if you’re working with the tools OR if you’ve got the
tools working for you.

What Industry Are You In?

Using Apple Apps, Google Workspace or Microsoft 365?

What Type of user are you?

🫣 Entry User | 🤹 Skilled User | 👑 Elite User

Take the quiz to find out. 

Privacy Policy

Using Technology Better Privacy Commitment


We hold the privacy of your personal information in the highest regard.

Using Technology Better regards customer privacy as an important part of our relationship with our customers. The following privacy policy applies to all Using Technology Better users, and conforms to Internet privacy standards.

This policy will be continuously assessed against new technologies, business practices and our customers’ needs.

If you have questions or concerns regarding this statement, you should first contact the support team on our Contact Us Page.

Collection of Information

In order to use the Using Technology Better website, we may require information from you in order to provide the best service possible.

All correspondence may also be collected and stored, particularly in regard to sales, support and accounts, including Email.

Any information collected by Using Technology Better is collected via correspondence from you or your company. This may be via the telephone, Email, mail, fax or directly through our website.

Visitors and customers of will have their information shared back to DAIWABO INFORMATION SYSTEM CO., LTD. and DIS Service & Solution Co., Ltd.

Use of Collection Information

Any details collected from Using Technology Better customers is required in order to provide you with our

products and/or services, and a high level of customer service.

Correspondence is recorded in order to provide service references, and to assist in our staff development.

Web Site Use Information

Similar to other commercial Web sites, our Web sites utilize a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below, “What Are Cookies?”) and web server log files to collect information about how our Web site is used.

Information gathered through cookies and Web server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our Web site, and the Web sites visited just before and just after our Web site.

Storage of Collected Information

The security of your personal information is important to us. When you enter sensitive information (such as credit card numbers) on our website, we encrypt that information using secure socket layer technology (SSL).

When Credit Card details are collected, we simply pass them on in order to be processed as required. We never permanently store complete Credit Card details.

We follow generally accepted industry standards to protect the personal information submitted to us, both during transmission and once we receive it.

If you have any questions about security on our Website, you can email us at <ContactEmail>.

Access to Collected Information

If your personally identifiable information changes, or if you no longer desire our service, you may correct, update, delete or deactivate it by emailing us at <ContactEmail>.


If you purchase a product or service from us, we may request certain personally identifiable information from you.

You may be required to provide contact information such as:



Postal address

Your school or organisation

Financial information (such as credit card number, expiration date, name on card, card billing address).

We use this information for billing purposes and to fill your orders. If we have trouble processing an order, we will use this information to contact you.


Using Technology Better uses personally identifiable information for essential communications, such as


Accounts information

Critical service details.

We may also use this information for other purposes, including some promotional Emails.

If at any time a customer wishes not to receive such correspondence, they can request to be removed from any mailing lists by contacting support.

You will be notified when your personal information is collected by any third party that is not our agent/service provider, so you can make an informed choice as to whether or not to share your information with that party.

Third Parties

Using Technology Better may at its discretion use other third parties to provide essential services on our site or for our business processes.

We may share your details as necessary for the third party to provide that service.

These third parties are prohibited from using your personally identifiable information for any other purpose.

Using Technology Better does not share any information with third parties for any unknown or unrelated uses.

What Are Cookies?

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a Web site, that site’s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies.

Each Web site can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser’s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a Web site to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

Browsers are usually set to accept cookies. However, if you would prefer not to receive cookies, you may alter the configuration of your browser to refuse cookies.

If you choose to have your browser refuse cookies, it is possible that some areas of our site will not function as effectively when viewed by the users.

A cookie cannot retrieve any other data from your hard drive or pass on computer viruses.

How Do We Use Information We Collect from Cookies?

As you visit and browse our Web site, the site uses cookies to differentiate you from other users. In some cases, we also use cookies to prevent you from having to log in more than is necessary for security.

Cookies, in conjunction with our Web server’s log files, allow us to calculate the aggregate number of people visiting our Web site and which parts of the site are most popular. This helps us gather feedback to constantly improve our Web site and better serve our clients.

Cookies do not allow us to gather any personal information about you and we do not intentionally store any personal information that your browser provided to us in your cookies.


We reserve the right to disclose your personally identifiable information as required by law and when we believe that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights and/or comply with a judicial proceeding, court order, or legal process served on our Website.


Links on the Using Technology Better site to external entities are not covered within this policy. The terms and conditions set out in this privacy statement only cover the domain name of

Changes to Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes to this privacy statement, and other places we deem appropriate so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.

We reserve the right to modify this privacy statement at any time, so please review it periodically. If we make material changes to this policy, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this Privacy Policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this Privacy Policy, without your prior consent

Delivery Policy

Most goods are digitally delivered instantly via email.  Our services may be delivered either via an online medium or live in person.

For our online delivery see below.  For services delivered live onsite, please refer to our speaker agreement form which is emailed to you on confirmation of booking.

Refund Policy

We do not offer refunds or returns unless we cannot supply goods or services or the goods or services are not delivered as promised.

Australian law is the governing body for all work, goods and services supplied by Using Technology Better.

Marketing Release

Using Technology Better (UTB) may film, record, and photograph me (the results of which are the “Recordings”). UTB may also incorporate into any production(s) any separate content (e.g., quotes, testimonials, biographical information, profiles, photos, videos, sound recordings, artwork, etc.) I provide to UTB or approve in writing (“Materials”).


I grant to UTB an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free license to, in its sole discretion, (i) edit, translate, and modify the Recordings and the Materials, (ii) attribute the Recordings and Materials to me by my name, age, and city and state of residence, (iii) incorporate the Recordings and the Materials into content to promote UTB, its programs, or products (“Content”), and (iv) publicly use, distribute, reproduce, create derivative works from, and perform/display the Content, and any excerpts thereof, in any language.

2. No Compensation.

I grant this permission without any financial or other obligation of any nature.


For any issues or concerns please contact us