Google Drive File Stream on Mac

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With Google Drive File Stream, the contents of your Google Drive appears on your Mac like a regular drive. Unlike Google Backup & Sync (and the old Google Drive app), the files are not all copied to your computer. This saves a lot of space on your drive and almost eliminates sync errors. File Stream is only available for Google Apps G-Suite users. For regular Google accounts (Gmail), use Google Backup & Sync.

Look for Google Drive File Stream in your Mac’s top menu bar. It’s a white triangle inside a dark square. If it’s there, skip to Accessing Files below.


Configuring Google Drive File Stream the first time

Google Drive File Stream may already be installed on your computer. Click Launchpad (rocket icon) and look for Google Drive File Stream. Or click the Finder desktop, click the Go menu at the top of the screen and choose Applications. The app must include the words File Stream. If you found it, open and skip to 3 below.

  1. Need to download Google Drive File Stream? Click this link to sign into your Google account and download.
  2. Follow the steps to install from a disk image download. You’ll open the installer icon that looks like a package.
  3. Open Google Drive File Stream from the Launchpad or Applications folder (see above).
  4. Was a system extension blocked? Click Open Security Preferences (or click the Apple menu, choose System Preferences and Security & Privacy). Click Allow. Now restart the computer and open Google Drive File Stream from the Launchpad or Applications folder again.
  5. Click the Google Drive File Stream icon in the top menu bar and sign into Google Drive with your email address and password.
  6. Google Drive is added to the desktop. You can also add it to the dock – just drag it from the desktop to the right side of the dock near the trash.

Accessing files in your Google Drive

  1. Click the Google Drive icon in the menu bar, desktop or sidebar. Can’t find it? Click the Launcher (rocket icon), then open Google Drive File Stream (make sure it says File Stream). If you have trouble, see Configuring the first time above.
  2. Your files are inside My Drive, which is in the Google Drive icon. Copy files & folders to your Google Drive and they are uploaded. You can then delete the original copies. Create folders inside and organize just like any drive. You may also save files directly to Google Drive from any application – it’s a drive in the left side bar of open & save windows.
  3. Folders with a cloud icon are available as long as you’re online. Files will be automatically downloaded when you open them, and uploaded when you save.
  4. Need to access files when you don’t have internet? You can choose folders for offline-access. Hold the Control key and click a folder inside your Google Drive. Choose Drive File Stream and Available Offline. Any changes you (or others) make will not be updated until you’re connected to the internet again. Be selective about which files/folders you make available offline.
  5. Collaborate with Shared Folders. When you add items to a folder, they’re shared with other people. Be careful: removing items may delete them from other people’s computers & devices. You’ll need to sign into Google Drive on the web and add shared folders to your drive. Learn how to share folders.
  6. Google Drive Docs are special icons that open in a web browser so you can edit Google Docs, Sheets & Slides on the web.


Google Drive File Stream tips

Missing shared folders? If your Google Drive folder doesn’t show items other people have shared with you, you may need to log into Google Drive on the web and add them to your drive. See Google Drive collaboration for details.

There’s so much you can do with Google Drive. If you sometimes use Windows, install the Google Drive app on your PC. It’s also an easy way to share files between your computer, iPhone and iPad.

Learn more about using Google apps with a Mac.

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