How to Use Google Drive With Linux

Getting the most out of Google Drive on Linux

Working with Google Drive on an operating system like Windows and macOS makes using the cloud storage service particularly easy. Still, it's just as easy to use Google Drive on Linux.

Use Google Drive on Linux With a Web Browser

Google Drive can be used with any modern web browser. Well-known web browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera work well with Google Drive, as do lesser-known web browsers like Epiphany, Midori, and Vivaldi. Google Drive on Linux also works with accounts that use two-factor authentication (2FA).

The one feature that suffers is the ability to work offline with documents in Drive. The only web browsers this feature works in are Google Chrome and Chromium, the open-source version of Chrome. To make this happen, do the following:

  1. Open Google Chrome.

  2. Go to Google Drive.

  3. Select the Gear icon.

    Settings gear in Google Drive
  4. Select Settings.

    Settings in Google Drive
  5. In the Offline section, select the Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline check box.

    You will not find the offline setting in either the Firefox or Opera web browsers.

    Offline option in Google Drive settings
  6. You may be prompted to install the Google Docs Offline extension.

Use Google Drive on Linux in GNOME

If your distribution uses the GNOME Desktop Environment, you can add your Google Drive account to the Online Accounts feature. Doing this integrates your Google account with the GNOME Calendar, the Evolution Groupware Suite (email, to-dos, calendar, tasks, and contacts), and more. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. From the GNOME Activities Overview, open Settings.

  2. Select Online Accounts.

    Online accounts in Linux GNOME settings
  3. Select Google.

    Google in Online Accounts in Linux
  4. Walk through the account sign-in process.

  5. With the sign-in process complete, select the Google services you want to connect to the GNOME desktop. Then, close that window and the Settings window.

    Sync options for Google account in Linux
  6. Open the GNOME file manager to see the new listing in the left sidebar with your Google account. Select the account to mount your Google Drive.

    Google account in Linux sidebar
  7. You can open, edit, create, and delete files from that location as if these files are local to your drive.

Because Google Drive is mounted as a remote file system, the amount of time it takes before the directory is ready to use is based on how many files and folders are saved to Google Drive. Furthermore, every time you reboot the desktop, you must remount the Drive account by opening the file manager and selecting the Google Account entry.

Use Google Drive on Linux With a Third-Party Solution

Google hasn't created a Drive client for Linux. However, there are a few tools available from third-party developers. Insync is one tool that syncs Google Drive to Linux.

Insync is a cross-platform Drive-to-Desktop sync tool that backs up and syncs Google Drive to the Linux desktop. There's a cost associated with Insync, though; a single Insync license costs $29.99 per user account. If you're a Google Drive power user who works on the Linux desktop, the software is worth the cost.

To install Insync on Linux, do the following:

Instructions below are demonstrated using the Elementary OS, which is based on Ubuntu Linux.

  1. Download the latest release of Insync.

  2. Save the file to /home/USER/Downloads, where USER is your Linux username.

  3. Open a terminal window.

  4. Change to the directory containing the file with the command:

    cd ~/Downloads
  5. Install the new file with the command:

    sudo apt install ./insync*.deb
  6. Allow the installation to complete.

    Starting Insync from the installation.
  7. Start an instance of the newly installed Insync from the desktop menu.

  8. Once you start Insync, you'll be prompted to enable Nautilus (file manager) integration. When prompted, select Yes to add sync integration with the GNOME file manager.

  9. A terminal window prompts you for your user password (for the installation of the necessary Nautilus integration components). During this installation, you are prompted to type y, then press any key to continue.

  10. Another new window opens, where you can start the Insync Service. Select Start Insync. Then select Close.

  11. In the Insync window asking you to add a Google account, select Add a Google account, then proceed through the account sign-in wizard.

  12. This opens your default web browser, where you'll sign in to your Google Account. After you sign in, select Allow to give Insync permission to access your Google account.

    Allow button in Insync
  13. The Insync window opens and walks you through the process of choosing a default location to sync Drive to your desktop.

    Changing the default sync location for Insync.

    By default, this location is /home/USERNAME/GOOGLEACCOUNT, where USERNAME is your Linux username, and GOOGLEACCOUNT is the email address associated with your connected Google Account. To change the location, select Change on the last screen of the wizard, then select a different location for the sync.

  14. You're now ready to enjoy an outstanding Google Drive-to-Linux-Desktop sync experience.