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How to download a file from Google Drive

Google Drive is a common cloud storage choice for work and education projects, especially if you are collaborating with other people or are part of a broader workflow process. However, sometimes you need to download a file to your device for more direct work or to more easily move it somewhere else.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone with Google Drive access.

To that end, Drive lets you download files quickly right from the home page. Here’s how to do it, what to do if you’re on your phone, and what to try if things aren’t working.

Downloading from Google Drive

Step 1: Head to Google Drive and log in if necessary. The login info will be the same as your universal Google account.

A choose-your-file menu screen in Google Drive.

Step 2: Select the file you want to download from the Google Drive homepage. Drive generally displays your folder first, followed by the recent and popular files that you access. If necessary, you can use the Search in Drive bar at the top of the window to look for a specific file.

A drop-down menu with the Download from Google Drive option highlighted..

Step 3: Check that you’ve selected the correct file and right-click on it. This will bring up a new menu of options. Toward the bottom of the menu, you’ll find the option to Download it. Select this.

Step 4: Drive will run a quick scan for viruses, zip the file if necessary, and then automatically download the file to your local computer storage.

Step 5: Since Drive doesn’t always give you a choice about where to download, this can make it difficult to download to a particular spot like an external hard drive. In these cases, you may have to manually move the file from your local storage to the spot that you have in mind.

Downloading from your phone

If you are using a mobile device like a smartphone, downloading files here is also simple. Let’s take a look at the iPhone method as an example.

Step 1: Log into the Google Drive app.

A drop-down menu giving the option to download a Drive file to iPhone.

Step 2: Find the file you want to download. Select the three-dot menu icon to the right of it.

Step 3: Scroll down the menu to find the Open In option. Select it.

Step 4: Drive will now export the file to the local storage on your phone.

Google Drive Sharing options.

Troubleshooting downloading from Google Drive

If a file refuses to download, there are several things you can try to get things working:

  • Clear the cache and cookies on your browser, then try again.

  • Check the security settings on your browser. Sometimes browser security prevents downloads and may need to be disabled for this to work.

  • Check permissions for the file. There is a Sharing option in Drive that allows creators to disable options to download a file. If this has been disabled, you’ll need to enable it again, or ask the person in charge of the file to enable it.

  • If you have an ad blocker running, you may need to disable it to successfully download from Drive.

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