Google Drive Logo

While Apple users can easily use the iCloud storage service, it comes with only 5 GB of free storage. Rather than paying extra, you could switch to using Google Drive on your Mac, giving you extra space and tools in the process.

Once you’ve installed and configured Google Drive, it’ll appear as a folder in the Finder app. You’ll need a Google account set up and configured to be able to use Google Drive.

Installing Google Backup and Sync on Mac

To access Google Drive on your Mac (and not from a browser), you’ll need to download and install the Google Backup and Sync software.

Head to the Google Drive website and click the “Download” button under the “Personal” section.

On the Google Drive website, click Download for the Backup and Sync software

Agree to the terms and conditions to begin downloading the software. Open the DMG file once the download has completed.

RELATED: What is a DMG File (And How Do I Use One)?

In the DMG installer, drag the “Backup and Sync from Google” icon to the “Applications” folder on the other side.

In the Google Drive Backup and Sync installer for Mac, drag the Backup and Sync from Google icon to the Applications folder icon on the right

After a few moments, the Backup and Sync software for Google Drive will be installed on your Mac.

You can access it from your Launchpad or by searching “Backup and Sync” in Spotlight Search, accessible by clicking the search icon in the top right of your Mac screen or pressing the CMD+Space bar keys.

The Backup and Sync for Google Drive launch icon on Mac, in the Launchpad

Depending on your version of macOS, a warning about using Backup and Sync may pop up at first launch.

Click “Open” to allow it to launch.

Click Open to allow Backup and Sync from Google Drive to launch on your Mac

You’ll then need to allow Backup and Sync access to your files and allow it to back up your Desktop folder.

Click “Don’t Allow” if you’d prefer not to allow this, but you’ll be configuring these options later. Otherwise, click “OK” to allow Backup and Sync access.

Click OK to allow Backup and Sync access to Desktop files

Authorize the same for your Documents folder by clicking the “OK” button.

Click OK to allow Backup and Sync access to your Mac documents folder

Click “OK” to authorize the same access for your photos and videos. This will allow them to be backed up to your Google account.

Click OK to allow Backup and Sync access to your photos, otherwise click OK

With the correct permissions applied, Backup and Sync will launch.

Configuring Google Backup and Sync on Mac

Once the Google Backup and Sync software launches with the correct permissions, click the “Get Started” button and then sign in with your Google account username and password.

Sign in to your Google Account on the first launch of Google Backup and Sync on Mac

You’ll then need to select which folders from your Mac you want to sync with Google Drive.

Click “Got It” to get started and then select which folders you want to sync in the top section. By default, your Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders will sync. You can uncheck these if you’d prefer.

During the Google Drive Backup and Sync setup process, select the folders you want to sync

You’ll need to choose the quality of your photo and video uploads. Select the radio button next to your preferred option.

“High-Quality” will convert your photos and videos to a lesser quality, but these files won’t count towards your storage quota. If you’d prefer to leave these intact, choose the “Original Quality” option. This will use your supplied Google Drive storage quota.

Check the “Upload Photos and Videos to Google Photos” checkbox to automatically upload these to Google Photos and then click “Next” to proceed.

Choose your photo and video upload size and whether you want to upload to Google Photos, then click Next

You’ll then need to decide which folders from your Google Drive storage you want to automatically sync to your Mac to allow you immediate access.

Click “Got It” to get started. Select either “Sync Everything in My Drive” to sync all of the files from your Google Drive storage, or select individual files by clicking the “Sync These Folders Only” option.

That will provide you with a list of available folders. Uncheck the folders you don’t want to sync, click “Start” to complete the configuration process, and then begin syncing your files.

Select your folder sync options, then click Start to begin syncing files between your Google Drive storage and your Mac

Accessing Google Drive on Your Mac

Once the Google Backup and Sync software has been configured, a configuration tool will appear in your macOS menu bar. This will give you information on the progress of any syncing files as well as allow you to configure Google Drive in the future.

The Google Backup and Sync icon in the Mac Menu Bar

Your Google Drive folder will appear for you to access like any other folder in Finder, under the “Favorites” section in the menu on the left. You can launch Finder from your Launchpad or by searching for it by clicking the Spotlight search icon in your menu bar.

This folder is where you can add, edit, or delete files and folders to your Google Drive storage. The folder will also appear when you look to save or open files in other software.

The Google Drive folder in Finder on Mac

Depending on the syncing options you selected during the setup process, your Desktop, Document, and Photo files will also sync automatically to your Google Drive storage, regardless of whether you saved them to your Google Drive storage folder directly.

Ben Stockton Ben Stockton
Ben Stockton is a freelance tech writer from the United Kingdom. In a past life, he was a UK college lecturer, training teens and adults. Since leaving the classroom, he's been a tech writer, writing how-to articles and tutorials for MakeUseOf, MakeTechEasier, and Cloudwards.net. He has a degree in History and a postgraduate qualification in Computing.
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