Read this article to learn how your Google Drive website online (in the cloud) syncs with your Google Drive folder on your computer, and how to control which files and folders sync to your Mac and take up space. Also find out how to work with Google apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) when offline.

Use the Google Drive app in Finder to backup your computer files to Google Drive online

New GPS faculty, staff, and students have a Google Drive folder in Finder or Windows Explorer. All documents, folders, or media saved in this folder will be backed up to your GPS Google Drive account in the cloud. Should something happen to your computer, your files saved in the Google Drive folder can be restored to your computer.

Note that any folder, file, or media dragged out of Google Drive or placed in the Trash will no longer be backed up.

Google Drive works in both directions (unless you tell it not to, see selective sync below). Since your work from your computer is backed up to Google Drive in the cloud, you can work on any device with internet access and always have the latest version of your documents.

Sync Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides from Google Drive online back to your computer

If you’ve installed Google Drive for your Mac/PC, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. that you create online will automatically sync to the Google Drive folder on your computer.

How Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides appear on your computer

Links to your Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides will be stored in the Google Drive folder on your computer. Each file type has its own extension (URL):

  • Google Docs: filename.gdoc
  • Google Sheets or Forms: filename.gsheet or .gform
  • Google Slides: filename.gslides
  • Google drawings: filename.gdraw
  • Google Sites: filename .gsite

When you open a Google file (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Forms, or Drawings) from your Google Drive folder in Finder or Windows Explorer, the file will launch in a new tab or window in your default browser (Chrome, Safari, etc.) as long as you have an Internet connection.

Choose which files & folders sync from Google Drive online to your computer

If you want to keep your online documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. from automatically syncing to the Drive folder on your computer, you can turn off automatic syncing for some or all files and folders. This will keep really large folders and files from taking up room on your computer’s hard drive.

  1. On your desktop, click the black & white Google Drive icon google drive desktop icon.
    • On a Mac, the icon is usually found in the menu bar at the very to top right of your desktop screen where the date and battery life are (not on the colored google drive extension at the top of your Chrome window).
    • On a PC, the icon is usually found in the taskbar in the bottom right of your desktop screen.
  2. In the top right of the window that opens, click the three dots (overflow) menu. Select Preferences.
  3. Click the Sync options tab.
  4. Click the radio button (circle) to choose one of 2 options:
    • Sync everything on My Drive: this will put everything on your computer that is in your Google Drive folder online.
    • Sync only these folders: Put a checkmark in front of the folders you wish to sync to your computer’s Google Drive folder. Note the size of the folders; think about not syncing (leave unchecked) items larger than a few gigabytes (GB). KBs and MBs are smaller than GBs. Your computer hard drive can hold either 128 GB or 256 GB. Click the Apple Icon at the top of your screen, choose About this Mac, and click on the Storage tab to see how much storage you have and how much you have used.
  5. Click Apply.

Work with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. offline

  1. Go to docs.google.com (or sheets.google.com or slides.google.com). This is the main page where you can create a new document.
  2. Click on the menu icon at left (three bars).
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Look for Offline and move the slider to blue. You will now be able to work offline with no internet, and your files will sync to Google Drive online next time you have internet access.

Sync items in “Shared with me”

None of the files and folders that others have shared with you will sync to the Drive folder on your computer unless you add them to Google Drive or to the individual folders that you’ve synced.

  1. Make sure you’re connected to the Internet.
  2. On your desktop at the top of your screen, click the Google Drive icon google drive desktop icon.
    • On a Mac, the icon is usually found in the menu bar at the top right of your desktop screen.
    • On a PC, the icon is usually found in the taskbar in the bottom right of your desktop screen.
  3. In the top right, click the overflow menu .
  4. Select Preferences.
  5. Click Visit Shared with me. You’ll be taken to “Shared with me” in Google Drive on the web.
  6. Drag and drop files and folders from “Shared with me” into “My Drive” or to individual folders that you have already synced. Moving shared files and folders does not remove the sharing. To remove sharing and save a file for your own use, right click and choose “Make a Copy”. The copy will no longer be shared. For folders, you must make a copy of each file inside.

Resources: Google Drive Help Center

 


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