How to download a file from Google Drive

ByLance T. Lee

Mar 22, 2022

Google Drive is a common cloud storage choice for work and education projects, especially if you’re collaborating with others or part of a larger workflow process. However, sometimes you need to download a file to your device for more direct work or to move it elsewhere more easily.

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

Download from Google Drive

Step 1: Head to Google Drive and log in if needed. The login details will be the same as your Universal Google Account.

2nd step: Select the file you want to upload from the Google Drive homepage. Drive typically shows your folder first, followed by recent and popular files you access. If necessary, you can use the Search in Drive bar at the top of the window to search for a specific file.

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

Step 3: Check that you have selected the correct file and right-click on it. This will bring up a new options menu. Towards the bottom of the menu you will find the option to To download this. Select this.

Step 4: Drive will run a quick virus scan, compress the file if necessary, then automatically download the file to your local computer storage.

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

Download from your phone

If you are using a mobile device like a smartphone, uploading files here is also easy. We’ll take a look to the iPhone method as an example.

Step 1: Log into the Google Drive app.

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

2nd step: Find the file you want to download. Select the three-dot menu icon to its right.

Step 3: Scroll through the menu to find the Open in option. Select it.

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

Google Drive sharing options.

Troubleshoot downloading from Google Drive

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

  • Clear your browser’s cache and cookies, then try again.

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

  • Check the permissions for the file. There is a sharing option in Drive that allows creators to turn off a file’s upload options. If it has been deactivated, you will have to reactivate it or ask the person in charge of the file to activate it.

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

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