Google Docs Is Now Google Drive: How To Enable It

We’ve been covering the rumored Google Drive for months. We were one of the first news sources to cover it’s educational value in our Edudemic Magazine. We published a ‘Must-Have Guide To Google Drive‘ and have been closely following all the tea leaves and rumors.

Why do we care so much about Google Drive?

Because it’s going to be a useful way for entire classrooms and schools to collaborate. Better yet, Google Drive lets you literally do a Google search for all your stored files. The search functionality alone (which was not widely rumored) has me thinking about the many ways younger students will be able to use Google Drive.

How It’s Different

– Unlike Dropbox, Box, and other cloud storage services, Google Drive lets you open over 30 file types right in your browser—including HD video, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop—even if you don’t have the program installed on your computer.

– It lets you do a Google search for all your files. Search for content by keyword and filter by file type, owner and more. Google Drive can even recognize objects in your images and text in scanned documents.

- For Gmail, you can send a link from Google Drive in Gmail and everyone has the same file, same version—automatically.

- For Google+, your videos and pictures in Google Drive are instantly available in Google+, so you’re never more than one click away from sharing with your circles.

Why Should I Use It?

While it’s meant to take on Dropbox and Box, it’s a tool that is really (and obviously) directed at frequent Google apps users. If you use Google Docs, Maps, Calendar, Android devices, and now Google Play, then you’ll likely want to try Google Drive when it rolls out. Google Drive is simply a way to store all your ‘stuff’ from these various apps in one place.

Bought a movie on Google Play? Got a few documents need from Google Docs? What about all your contacts from your Android smartphone? It will all  be on your Google Drive.

How To Get Google Drive

Google Drive is not yet available to everyone. You can sign up to be notified when your Google account is ready for it here. Although you should know that, when I clicked the ‘Notify Me’ button… it simply enabled Google Drive! No waiting whatsoever. Not sure if that’s how it’ll work for everyone.

Here’s my experience with Google Drive in the form of screenshots. What could be better!?!

STEP ONE: Enable Google Drive here.

STEP TWO: Download Google Drive after seeing it live in your Google Docs.

STEP THREE: Install Google Drive on your Mac or PC (iPad and iPhone coming soon)

STEP FOUR: Sync Google Drive content with your computer for offline viewing.

STEP FIVE: Open up your Google Drive folder and start using it! If you’re like me, you paid $5 extra and got 25GB of space in your Gmail. That means you also get 25GB in your Google Drive! Not a bad deal for 5 bucks.

The list of documents you’re used to seeing when you sign into is being replaced by Google Drive. Just like before, you can upload, edit, share and create files online. But with Google Drive, you can access your files wherever you are, from any device. And you can work with even more file types by installing Google Drive apps.

To access all of your files, folders and Google Docs, you have three options:

What’s the same

Some things in Google Drive will be familiar since you’re used to seeing them in your Documents List.

  • Create Google Docs by clicking the red Create button
  • Share with exactly who you want — with control and without email attachments
  • Search or sort your list of files, folders, and Google Docs
  • Preview files and Google Docs

What’s changed

  • Collections are now called folders
  • More things have been added to the Settings menu, including upload settings
  • The left navigation has new views:
    • My Drive
    • Shared with me
    • Activity
  • The Home view is gone. Instead, use My Drive to organize all of your files, folders and Google Docs.

What’s completely new

  • Sync files between all of your devices with Google Drive for your Mac/PC
  • View and search Google Drive on the web in a visual way with grid view
  • Add a file to a folder by clicking the folder icon within a file or Google document, spreadsheet, or presentation
  • Work with more file types by installing Google Drive apps from the Chrome Web Store

Use Google Drive with other Google products

Offline access

Access Google Drive even when you’re not connected to the Internet.

Internet outages and long plane rides shouldn’t prevent you from working in Google Drive. Set up offline access so that the next time you’re offline you’ll still be able to view Google documents and spreadsheets, shuffle folders around, and edit non-Google Docs files stored in your Google Drive folder.

To set up offline access to Google Drive, you’ll need to be connected to the Internet and adjust a few settings in your Google Chrome browser:

  1. Install Google Chrome New Window if you haven’t already.
  2. Launch a new Chrome browser window and go to
  3. Click the gear drop-down Gear icon and select Set up Docs offline from the menu.
  4. In the “Set up offline viewing of Google Docs” dialog that appears, click Allow offline docs.
  5. Click Install from Chrome web store next to the dialog box.
  6. From the Chrome web store, click Install.
  7. Click the Google Docs icon to go back to your Google Drive.

Repeat steps for every computer where you’ll need offline access to Google Drive.

Protect your Google Drive by enabling offline access only on personal computers or computers where you have a password protected account. Enabling offline access on public or shared computers can put your data at risk, since others may be able to view your synced Google documents and spreadsheets.

Access for different types of files

Google documents and spreadsheets: Can view, can’t edit

While you can’t edit Google documents and spreadsheets offline, you can view them without an Internet connection. Just point your Chrome browser to New Window and select Google document or spreadsheet to view. View access isn’t available for Google presentations, forms, or drawings.

Non-Google Docs files that you’ve stored in Google Drive: Can view and edit.

You can both view and edit files such as PDFs, Microsoft Office files, and images, from your Google Drive folder even when you’re disconnected from the Internet. Any changes you’ve made to synced files while offline will sync to all devices with a time stamp when you reconnect to the Internet.


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  2. Therese

    May 22, 2012 at 2:43 am

    I converted to Google Drive but our company has been relying on Google Docs for the past several years. All of our folders and file structures are set up in a very specific way. How do I get all the same folders (collections) and files that appear on my current Google Docs to appear the same way on Google Drive?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Terry Heick

      May 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

      This is a new issue we haven’t seen yet. Anyone have any ideas?

      • harry

        July 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm

        This would be a huge issue for us. As the “coach” for a bunch of non-techies, I can tell you that significantly altering the “look and feel” of things can be catastrophic.

        For example, changing the “common name” of “folders” (that, itself, an inexcusable dumbing-down of “directories”) to “collections” was hopelessly misguided and counter-productive.

        Change for the sake of change is an abomination. 99% of the people in the world do not think like 99% of the employees of the Google Corporation.

        Please attempt to make these transitions less painful, not more painful.

        Thank you. Harry

  3. Mary N

    July 9, 2012 at 7:42 am

    We should have a “skip/remind me later” option a certain number of logins. I’ve decided I don’t want Drive. (See note below.) We need to know if Google is providing access to google docs – at least for a certain number of logins. The rollout may have been announced long before- but it was done badly.

    Why I don’t want it: Whether its a hacker looking for company secrets or some crazy legislation looking for spies in all our broom closets, someone is going to hijack this given all the access to devices and image/face/text recognition. I’m mad because I can’t take my documents I just loaded off there because after the 2 uploads today I was permanently redirected. I’d have to do a trial of the product and give the permissions I’m objecting to, to remove the documents. I’m sure they’d prefer everyone just switched- but I’m thinking of switching… out of the Googleverse. Chrome and Google+ had some creepy things going on but like Facebook, Google’s growing sense of entitlement to info to “improve” the experience is unnerving.

  4. Chloe

    July 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    How do I access my Google documents? This is so annoying, I rely on Google Docs for my work and now I cannot access things that I need! I just want my documents so that I can copy and paste them into something else. I trusted Googles docs to be a safe place to store things and now I am angry that I am being forced to Google Drive promotion, something I don’t want!

    • Gus

      September 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      I am as well, I have spent the last hour trying to retrieve all my documents and it is forcing me to download this new program..I am so furious right now!

  5. shiraj

    August 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    On startup I get a Google Drive cannot connect to the Internet message. I have no problems connecting to the Internet with any other a window xp pro, sp3 user.internet connected through wireless, all the other apps are perfectly working i have checked the issue with google forums but seems like so many peaple get same issue but doesnt get a solution.please help me

    thank you

  6. carl

    August 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I am going to drop google if I can not go back to google documents. Is there a way I can go back?

    • Jeff Dunn

      August 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      I honestly don’t think you can go back. Wish I could too!

  7. ddxdx

    August 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    I suddenly could not access Google docs, so downloaded Google Drive and STILL cannot access documents. What a mess.

  8. Kelly

    August 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I just started a new job that uses google for our email and docs, but i am hesitant to download Google Drive until I can figure out how it will work with my personal gmail. My question is, should I log-in to gmail initially using my personal gmail address, download “My Drive” and then add the work account?

    i’ve been “googling” to try and find an answer with no luck. It’s confusing!

  9. Gus

    September 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I am very upset right now. I have to invoice my clients and I can not even get into my documents to retrieve them. You forced me to download your new programs, which I did in frustration, and is still will not let me open up my documents. It keeps saying error with some damn font and then it says I am offline!!!! If your going to push us to try your new program, then make sure it works. ALL my records are in your system. Even Google Chrome is screwing up. I am so am I supposed to run my business when you have all my documents/invoices locked up????

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  12. Dave

    January 14, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Never mind how to enable Google Drive, how do I disable it?

    I used to have 3 gmail accounts open on my PC, now I have enabled Google drive it only allows me to have one open at a time – complete pain in the …