Google Drive – Downloading your files & folders

Sometimes you need a copy of your files in a place other than your Drive.  Google Drive provides some options to do this, each one depending on what it is that you’re downloading.

*Downloading non-Google files (e.g. Word docs, PDFs, mp3s, images)

Right click on the file you want.  Then click on “Download” from the menu.

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This will download a copy of the file to your computer.

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*Downloading Google files (e.g. Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides)

The process for downloading these is the same, expect for one key difference.  Google files don’t really exist as a normal ‘physical’ files like a Powerpoint document.  They live in the cloud on your Google Drive.  So, to get them back down to Earth, as it were, Google converts them into a Microsoft file.

Google Docs become Word documents; Google Sheets become Excel files; and Google Slides become Powerpoint slides

So, to download one, right click on the file you want.  Then click on “Download” from the menu.

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This will download a Microsoft-friendly version of the file to your computer.

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*Downloading a whole folder

If you’ve got a lot of files to download, one of the quickest ways is to download a whole folder.  This downloads the folder as a .zip file, i.e. all your files are put together in one convenient file.  Any Google files are automatically converted to Microsoft-friendly ones.

1) Right click on the folder you want and click “Download”.

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2) A pop-up window will appear showing you the zipping status.  For a few files this takes seconds.

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3) The .zip file is then downloaded to your computer.  Drive also adds the date it was downloaded to the filename.

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4) On your computer, double click the file to open the contents of the folder.

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5) In this example, Drive has converted my Google Docs to Word files (.docx).  It has also, downloaded the sub-folder (“Second level folder”) and its contents, that was in the folder I downloaded.

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*Downloading a file from within the file – More options!

The default download option detailed above, is to convert Google Apps into Microsoft files, but with a file open, you also have the option to download the file as other formats. Below are the options you can download your Google Apps as:

Google Slides > Powerpoint (.pptx), .pdf, Image files: .svg, .png, .jpg, or a text file .txt

Google Docs > Word (.docx), OpenDocument .odt, Rich Text Format.rtf, .pdf, .txt, .html zipped, EPUB publication (.epub)

Google Sheets > Excel (.xlsx), OpenDocument .ods, .pdf, .csv, .tsv, .zip

Probably the most useful is the option to download them as pdfs.

I will cover the options in greater detail in future posts, when I go through the individual Apps.

1) To do this just click on “File”.

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2)  Then click on “Download as”.  You will then see the various formats you can download as.  Just click on the one you want.

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Bear in mind, that downloading a document, will download that version of the document at that particular time, so any further changes to the original on your Google Drive, won’t be reflected in the downloaded version.


eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)


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