How to Set Up and Use Google Drive on Your Mac

Google Drive logo

While Apple users can easily use the ICloud storage service, it comes with only 5 GB of free storage. Rather than paying extra, you can switch to using Google Drive on your Mac, which gives you more space and tools in the process.

Once you’ve installed and configured Google Drive, it will appear as a folder in the Finder app. You will need a Google account installed and configured to use Google Drive.

Installing Google Backup and Sync on Mac

To access Google Drive on your Mac (not from a browser), you need to download and install the Google Backup and Sync software.

Head to the Google Drive website and click the “Download” button in the “Personal” section.

On the Google Drive website, click Download for backup and sync software

Accept the terms and conditions to begin downloading the software. Open the DMG file once the download is complete.

RELATED: What is a DMG file (and how do I use one)?

In the DMG installer, drag the “Backup and sync from Google” icon to the “Applications” folder on the other side.

In the Google Drive Backup and Sync installer for Mac, drag the Google Backup & Sync icon to the Applications folder icon on the right

After a few moments, the backup and synchronization software for Google Drive will be installed on your Mac.

You can access it from your Launchpad or by searching for “Backup and synchronization” in Spotlight Search, accessible by clicking on the search icon at the top right of your Mac screen or by pressing the keys on the CMD + Space bar.

The backup and synchronization launch icon for Google Drive on Mac, in the dashboard

Depending on your version of macOS, a warning regarding the use of backup and synchronization may appear on the first launch.

Click “Open” to allow it to launch.

Click Open to allow backup and sync from Google Drive to launch on your Mac

You will then need to allow Backup and Sync access to your files and allow it to back up your Desktop folder.

Click “Do not allow” if you prefer not to allow it, but you will configure these options later. Otherwise, click “OK” to allow access to backup and synchronization.

Click OK to allow backup and synchronization access to desktop files

Authorize the same for your Documents folder by clicking on the “OK” button.

Click OK to allow backup and sync access to your Mac document folder

Click “OK” to allow the same access for your photos and videos. This will allow them to be saved to your Google account.

Click OK to authorize access to the backup and synchronization of your photos, otherwise click OK

With the appropriate permissions applied, the backup and synchronization will start.

Configuring Google Backup and Sync on Mac

Once the Google Backup and Sync software is launched with the appropriate permissions, click the “Start” button, then sign in with your Google Account username and password.

Log in to your Google Account the first time you start Google Backup and Sync on Mac

You will then need to select the folders on your Mac that you want to sync with Google Drive.

Click “Got It” to start, then select the folders you want to sync in the top section. By default, your Office, Documents and Pictures folders will be synchronized. You can uncheck them if you prefer.

During the Google Drive backup and sync setup process, select the folders you want to sync

You will need to choose the quality of your photo and video downloads. Select the radio button next to your preferred option.

“High quality” will convert your photos and videos to a lower quality, but these files will not be taken into account in your storage quota. If you prefer to leave them intact, choose the “Original quality” option. This will use your provided Google Drive storage quota.

Check the “Download photos and videos to Google Photos” box to automatically download them to Google Photos, then click “Next” to continue.

Choose your download size for photos and videos and if you want to upload them to Google Photos, then click Next

You will then need to decide which folders from your Google Drive storage you want to automatically sync with your Mac for immediate access.

Click “Got It” to get started. Select “Synchronize all to my disc” to synchronize all the files in your Google Drive storage, or select individual files by clicking on the option “Synchronize these folders only”.

This will provide you with a list of available files. Uncheck the folders you don’t want to sync, click “Start” to complete the setup process, then start syncing your files.

Select your folder sync options, then click Start to start syncing files between your Google Drive storage and your Mac

Access Google Drive on your Mac

Once the Google Backup and Sync software is configured, a configuration tool will appear in your macOS menu bar. This will give you information on the progress of all sync files and allow you to configure Google Drive in the future.

The Google Backup and Sync icon in the Mac menu bar

Your Google Drive folder will appear so that you can access it like any other folder in the Finder, in the “Favorites” section of the left menu. You can launch the Finder from your Launchpad or by searching for it by clicking on the Spotlight search icon in your menu bar.

This folder is where you can add, edit, or delete files and folders on your Google Drive storage. The folder will also appear when you try to save or open files in other software.

The Google Drive folder in Finder on Mac

Depending on the synchronization options you selected during the installation process, your Office, Document and Photo files will also be automatically synchronized with your Google Drive storage, whether or not you have saved them directly to your Google Drive storage folder.

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