How to use Google Drive on Mac like a pro

9 min read

Google Drive is an online storage solution by Google. It allows you to store and sync data across your devices with its 15 GB of free storage space, while its integration with Google Docs for Mac gives your friends or coworkers access to the files or folders you designate for sharing.

There’s an official Google Drive app for Mac too — you can download it at The app is free and you can expect to install it and have it running in no time and little effort.

Note that Google’s Backup & Sync has been replaced with Drive for desktop, as per the company’s official support page.

How To Set Up And Use Google Drive For Mac?

With Google Drive, you can create and edit documents online. But if you rely on Drive for files backup and sync, it’s much more convenient to use the app. To start using Google Drive on Mac, the first thing you need is a Google Drive account.

How to create a Google Drive account?

If you have an account on any of Google services, like Gmail, YouTube, or Google Play, then you actually already have a Google Drive account.

Simply log in to a Google Drive website or app with your existing credentials. Or create a Google account for free by following these steps:

  1. Go to and click on the blue Go to Google Drive button
  2. Click Create Account
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to create a new Google account (this will also serve as your new Gmail email address)

google drive download mac

How to install Google Drive for Mac?

Installing Google Drive app on your Mac desktop only takes a few steps, so let’s quickly go through them together.

  1. First, go to and click the Download Drive for desktop button.

  2. Next, find GoogleDrive.dmg in your Downloads folder and open it.

  3. You’ll be prompted to install the Google Drive app, so go through the steps by first opening GoogleDrive.pkg, then confirming the installation in the installation window (the app will let you know how much space it will take up on your disk, which in our case was 421.3 MB).

  4. install google drive on mac

  5. Finally, you’ll be prompted to sign in to Google Drive with your Google account.

Once you’ve signed in, the app will automatically sync with your account and be ready for use.

google drive on mac

How to sync Google Drive on Mac for the first time?

Your Google Drive app on your Mac desktop syncs with your account automatically, but when you first start using it, you’ll need to go to preferences and select one of the two types of syncing your files:

streaming mirroring google drive app

You can either store all of your files on the cloud and only make select items available offline, i.e. stream files, or you can save all your files both on the Google Drive and your computer, i.e. mirror files.

You can change your syncing type at any moment in Google Drive preferences.

How do I know which way of syncing to choose in Google Drive on Mac?

If you are unsure which syncing type to select for your Google Drive on Mac app, we are here to help you out.

It’s actually very easy to make the choice once you know all the pros and cons of each syncing option.

The main pro of stream files syncing is that much less space is used on your Mac’s hard drive as most of the files are stored in the cloud. You still have easy access to all the files and can work with them on your Mac. The main con of this syncing type is the need for internet access to use the files you haven’t made available online.

Mirror sync is the opposite of that — your files are saved both on your computer and Google’s cloud storage, are available offline regardless of the quality of your internet connection, but they take up double the space since they are saved both in the cloud and on your device.

In a nutshell:

  • With stream sync, files take up less space but you need internet for access;
  • With mirror sync, files take up more space but you don’t need internet to use them.

Why you might need to use Google Drive app on Mac

Google Drive is a convenient tool for saving your files in a cloud storage that’s attached to your Google account.

These are just a few of the reasons why you might want to use it on your Mac:

  1. You want the convenience of having access to your full Google Drive in a folder in Finder.
  2. You like to quickly sync between local and cloud files.
  3. You need to change files’ statuses from “available offline” to “online only” frequently.
  4. You prefer to have direct access to your Google Drive files saved to multiple Google accounts.

How to use Google Drive menu bar icon

Google Drive menu bar icon allows you quick access to your Google Drive activity, notifications, and app preferences.

google drive mac app preferences

In Google Drive Preferences, you can add folders to back up, change whether you want your file sync to be stream or mirror (we’ve explained the difference earlier in the post), and find your My Drive folder in Finder.

And if you feel peeved about having yet another icon in your menu bar, your menu bar is a mess with all the icons you already have, or you want more structure to the way it looks, there’s a great solution for that.

Bartender is a tool for your menu bar icons. It’s loved by many Mac users for its simplicity and convenience, and it turns your menu bar into a place tailored precisely to your daily needs. Use Bartender to customize your Mac’s menu bar, choose which apps stay visible and which hide in the collapsible Bartender bar.

bartender menu bar

Reorder your icons, add spacers, view any changes in real time as Bartender automatically displays the icons for apps that are updating, syncing, etc. Use the keyboard for navigation, search your menu items, and more in this handy app.

How to use Google Drive on Mac?

Now that your Google Drive setup is complete, you have access to this additional storage for you to do as you wish. However, one of the best uses would be to link your Google Drive to multiple devices — for easy access from all of them.

To add your files to your Google Drive, you no longer need to open it in your browser and upload. You can simply drag and drop files onto the My Drive folder on your Mac:

my drive on your mac

If you are using the stream sync for your Google Drive files, you can make some available offline right in the My Drive folder in Finder:

make available offline google drive on mac app

Two-finger click on the file you want to change the status for, go to Offline access option in the dropdown menu and click Available offline to make your file available offline and Online only to reverse. Note that the Online only option will help you save disk space on your Mac.

You can easily spot which files and folders are available offline by the respective labels on each in your My Drive folder in Finder:

available offline google drive

You can also create new folders, change sharing settings for files and folders, copy link to the file or folder to clipboard, and more.

Also remember that Google Drive lets you create and work with others on documents in Google’s own versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in real-time (called Docs, Sheets, and Slides respectively). To enable collaboration on a Google Docs file, simply tap on Share in the top right corner and enter the names or email addresses of the people you wish to engage.

More tips for making Google Drive better

As convenient as Google Drive is, people often use more than one service for their personal and professional data storage. Some popular alternatives include Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive, and Dropbox. Using a combination of cloud-based storages increases your Mac’s disk space to being virtually unlimited, as long as you have an active internet connection. But in truth, managing different cloud accounts can turn into quite a hustle.

Luckily, there are apps like CloudMounter that allow you to use all your storage solutions in one place, connecting them to your Mac as if they were your regular external drives.

This trick lets you deal with cloud data in the same manner as you’d with local one, and even move files between the clouds. Another great benefit of using CloudMounter is the latest encryption algorithm that guarantees the security of your cloud files. Plus, it allows encrypting sensitive data on the cloud and doesn’t share your login info with any third parties.

CloudMounter works perfectly with all major cloud services and could very well become your ultimate cloud manager if you’re constantly dealing with storage issues or feel there’s not enough free space on your Mac’s SSD.

cloudmounter drive mount locally

Not even a bit less vital when dealing with loads of data is making sure you have a good backup of the most important files. Get Backup Pro is an elegant backup app just for that.

Get Backup Pro is fast, reliable, and offers a mix of four different backup methods: simple copy, clone, incremental, and versioned. With this app, you can back up folders or files that you think are important, cut the size of archives up to 60% by conducting compressed backups, effortlessly migrate data to a new disk with bootable backups via cloning, and schedule Stealth mode backups — with Get Backup Pro automatically closing once all scheduled processes are finished.

It goes without saying that cloud storage encourages collaboration and file sharing. If you work with different files online and often need to share links, Dropshare should be your app of choice for fast and secure file exchange.

Dropshare is a platform that works brilliantly with your favorite cloud services and lets you upload files in bulk with its easy drag & drop functionality, as well as securely share files, documents, and photos with password-protected expiring download links, and even set your own keyboard shortcuts to complete routine tasks faster.

dropshare sharing mac files

If you’re still asking yourself how to use Google Drive — 15 GB of free storage space, excellent collaboration features, and ability to access your files from any of your devices will surely give you lots of ideas on how to make the most of it. With clouds come possibilities, but you‘re the one who really decides what is Google Drive going to be on your Mac.

Best of all, you can find CloudMounter, Get Backup Pro, and Dropshare mentioned above on a free 7-day trial through Setapp, a platform of more than 240 useful Mac utilities that could change the way you work day to day. Ready for action on cloud Google?

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