How to make your online storage useful

You have probably already heard of Google Drive, and it’s highly likely you already use it if you own an Android phone. Even if you use Drive, the chances are high that you’re not making the most of it. When used correctly, Google Drive can act as a central hub for all your important files that you can access from anywhere. If you are new to Google Drive or want a refresher on the cloud storage service, this is our guide so you can set it up correctly, upload and download files, make the most of your storage space, and more.

How to set up Google Drive on your PC

  1. Head to the Google Drive page and download the client on your PC.
  2. Double-click the installer and follow the on-screen installation instructions.
  3. After the installation, you should see the Google Drive icon in the Windows status bar.
    • Click on it and continue to sign in with your Google account.
  4. The Google Drive client is now ready for use on your PC.


You should see a virtual drive for Google Drive on your desktop. You can use this Drive to sync files to the cloud and access them from your other devices.

How to set up Google Drive on your Mac

  1. Download the Google Drive client for Mac from the Drive download page.
  2. Open the installer by double-clicking on it.
    • You should see the Google Drive package. Double click to run the installer.
    • Now follow the on-screen instructions to install the Drive client on your Mac.
  3. Once the installation is done, the Google Drive icon should show up in your Mac’s menu bar.
    • Click on it and sign in with your Google account.

How to upload files to Google Drive

You can upload files to Drive from your PC by simply copy-pasting files to the virtual Drive folder. You can even create folders and sub-folders for further organization.

From your mobile device:

  1. Open the Google Drive app on your Android or iPhone.
    • Navigate to the folder, if any, inside which you want to upload the file.
  2. Tap the ‘+‘ icon.
    • From the dialog box that pops up, select Upload.

  3. Now proceed to select the files you want to upload.
    • Ensure that your phone is connected to a speedy Wi-Fi network when uploading large files.
    • Google Drive’s default is set to not upload files on mobile data.
    • To change this, navigate to the Google Drive settings menu and disable the Transfer files only over WiFi option.

How to download files from Google Drive

Downloading files from Google Drive is pretty straightforward, irrespective of your device. On the web, right-click on the file and select download.

On your Android device, tap the 3-dot menu button beside the file name and select Download. If you are using an iPhone, you must select open in and tap the Save to Files option.

How to sync files and folders to Google Drive

You don’t always need to upload files and folders to Drive from your PC manually. You can sync a specific folder so that if any changes are detected, they are automatically uploaded to the cloud and vice versa. First, ensure that the Google Drive client is installed on your PC, and then follow the steps below to sync files/folders to the cloud.

  1. Right-click on any folder that you want to sync to Drive.
  2. Select the Sync or back up this folder option.
  3. From the dialog box that opens up, ensure that the appropriate option is selected and tap Done
    • If you want to back up photos or videos to Google Photos instead of Google Drive, you can select the Back up to Google Photos option.

How to share files on Google Drive

You can share files stored on Google Drive with your friends or family. Any file you share stored in your Drive will not count against their storage.

Share files from Google Drive on the web:

  1. Right-click the file or folder you want to share and select share from the menu.
    • A dialog box will pop up where you can add people or groups with whom you want to share the content.
    • Alternatively, you can use the Get link option at the bottom to share the file/folder link.
  2. Proceed to enter the person’s email ID or Google group name.
    • A list of people who already have access to the file/folder will be displayed below it.

  3. By default, new users are given editor permission to organize, add, and edit the file as they like.
    • Depending on your preference, you can change this to viewer or commenter from the drop-down menu. You can also allow an editor to make changes to a file but not share it with others or change its permission.
    • Click the Settings icon in the top-right corner of the share dialog box and disable the appropriate option.
    • Disable the notify people option if you don’t want them to be notified that a file has been shared with them.

Sharing files from Google Drive on your phone:

  1. Open the Google Drive app and navigate to the file/folder you want to share.
  2. Tap the 3-dot menu button right beside the file name.
    • select share from the menu that pops up.
    • Proceed to enter the name of people or groups you want to share the file/folder with.
    • After entering the above detail, you can select the access role — Editor, vieweror commenter.
    • Add any message with the shared file and then confirm your selection.

Google Drive tips and tricks for Android and iPhone

Use different colors for folder icons

If you have a lot of folders in Google Drive, finding the right one when you are in a hurry can be a chore. Changing the folder’s color can make this a touch easier to find. This way, you can differentiate between different folders based on their color.

  1. Open the Google Drive app on Android or iPhone.
  2. Tap the 3-dot menu button that you see beside a folder’s name.
    • Alternatively, you can open the folder and then tap the 3-dot menu button in the top right corner.
  3. Select the change color option.
    • Proceed to select a color shade of your choice.
    • The changes will be instantly applied, and you should see the folder in the color shade you selected.

Quickly convert files to PDF

Want to quickly convert a Word or Google Docs file to PDF for sharing purposes? You can do so using Google Drive itself.

  1. Open the Google Drive app on your phone.
    • Proceed to open the file you want to convert to PDF.
  2. If it is an Excel/sheets file, you will see an option to open it in Google Sheets. Similarly, for text files, you will see an option to open them in Google Docs.
    • Select the appropriate option depending on the file type.
  3. Tap the 3-dot overflow menu button in the top right corner.
    • select share and export followed by save as.
  4. Now select PDF as your desired file type and tap OK.
    • Google Drive will then automatically convert and download the file on your phone.

Manage your Android phone backups

Google backs up an Android phone’s SMS, call logs, app data, and specific device settings to the cloud. If you have multiple devices or just want to manage this backup, you can do so from the Google Drive app.

  1. Open the Google Drive app on your phone.
  2. Tap the menu button in the top left corner or swipe from left to right.
    • Proceed to tap backups from the sidebar.
  3. Google Drive will now display all the device and WhatsApp backups.
  4. You can tap on a backup device to see various types of data backed up from it.
    • You can also delete older device backups from here if you wish to.
    • If you are a WhatsApp user, you can delete your last WhatsApp backup from here and even turn it off entirely. Note that you cannot see the content of the backed-up data, though.

Save files for offline access

If there are specific files in Google Drive that you need to access even without an active internet connection, you can save them for offline access. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Google Drive app on your phone.
  2. Tap the 3-dot menu button beside the file name that you want to access offline.
    • Select the Make available offline option.
  3. You can access all offline files from the offline section listed in the navigation drawer.

Scan documents using the Google Drive app

You can use the Google Drive app on mobile to directly scan and upload documents to the cloud. Even better, once you scan an image, any text on it instantly becomes searchable.

  1. Open the Google Drive app on your phone.
  2. Tap the floating + icon in the bottom right, followed by Scan
    • Proceed to grant the app access to your phone’s camera if you have not already done so.
  3. Click the picture of the document or the image you want to scan.
    • Confirm your selection by tapping OK. If the photo turns out to be blurry, you can try again.

  4. Google Drive will automatically scan the image and crop it to the most relevant part.
    • You can flip the image, switch the Scan to color, or tweak the crop from the editor that’s shown afterward.
    • tap the + icon in the bottom left corner if you want to add another new page to the scanned file.
    • Once everything is done, tap save to upload the scanned file to Google Drive.

Google Drive can be your one-stop location for all important files

Google Drive is a powerful service if you use it the right way. It offers a great way to quickly access your important files irrespective of your device and share them with others.

Once you set up Google Drive and know how to get the most from it, you should check out the best Google Photos tips and tricks to better manage your photo library. Google Drive and Photos are closely linked, and if you back up your photos to Google’s photo management service, you should check the tips out.

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