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How to download files and folders from Google Drive

If you want to back up your files for safekeeping, here's how.

Published onFebruary 24, 2024

Using Google Drive can be tricky sometimes; here’s a step-by-step tutorial. While uploading a file to your Google Drive is relatively easy, downloading it is another thing. If you want to save a backup or open it in another program, you’ll need to know how to download it to your devices. Here’s how to download files and folders from Google Drive.


To download a file or folder from Google Drive, right-click it and select Download. Select a location to store your file, and the download process should begin.


How to download a file from Google Drive (desktop)

While it may seem like you should be able to click and drag a file or folder directly to your desktop, the process isn’t quite so simple.

1. First, open Google Drive in your browser, then click the file or folder you want to download. If you wish to download multiple files or folders simultaneously, hold Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) while selecting multiple files.

download multiple files
Adam Birney / Android Authority

2. Next, right-click on your selection and choose Download. Alternatively, you can double-click on a single file to open it and click the Downloadicon in the upper right corner.

download file google drive
Adam Birney / Android Authority

How to download a file from Google Drive (iOS or Android)

The process is relatively straightforward on the mobile app.

1. Ensure you have updated Google Drive to the latest version. Then, open the app and tap the three-dot icon beside the file you want to download, then scroll down and tap Download.

Drive download android
Adam Birney / Android Authority

2. It may ask you where you want to save the file on your phone. For example, you can save an image or video to your camera roll by tapping Send a copy and selecting Save image or Save video. If you download something and don’t know where to access it, read our guide on finding downloaded files on Android.

3. If you want to download the entire contents of a folder at once, press and hold on multiple items so that you see a blue checkmark over them, then tap the three-dot icon in the top right and select Download. On a PC, you must Ctrl+click multiple items and download them as a ZIP folder.

download multiple items drive
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Why can’t I download a file from Google Drive?

If you can’t download a file, it’s likely because you aren’t the file owner. The owner may have limited your access to only viewing or commenting on a file. The owner will have to enable options to print, download, or copy for those with whom they have shared the file.

A less common reason may be that you are blocking third-party cookies in Chrome. You can still block those cookies for other sites, but you will need to allow them just for Drive.

First, open your Chrome cookie settings. Then, scroll down to find the Sites that can always use cookies section under See all cookies and site data. From there, click Add a Site and enter

Drive cookies
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Lastly, check the box that reads Include third-party cookies on this site.

If you still have trouble downloading a file or folder from Chrome, try turning off all extensions. If you can then download a file, turn the extensions on one at a time to identify which one was the source of the problem.


If you are not the file owner and your access is limited to view-only, you cannot save a file from Google Drive. Instead, you will have to message the file owner to allow you to download.

When you save a file or folder from Google Drive, it will ask you where to store it. For example, you can download files from Drive to your desktop, documents on a PC, a different app, or external storage devices.

Select the ZIP file, right-click it, and then click Download. Wait for the zipping process to finish, and your download should start automatically. If it doesn’t start, click the link. Drive may ask you to leave the page, so click Leave, as clicking Cancel will stop the process.

If you can’t download a file from Google Drive, it might be due to one of several reasons:

  • File size limits: Google Drive has limits on how big files can be for downloading and uploading.
  • File permissions: The owner of the file might have restricted who can download the file.
  • Browser issues: There might be a problem with your web browser. Try clearing your browser’s cache and cookies, or try using a different browser.
  • Internet connection: A poor or unstable internet connection can also cause download failures.

To move files from Google Drive to your desktop:

  1. Open Google Drive in your web browser.
  2. Navigate to the file or folder you want to download.
  3. Right-click the file or folder and select Download. You can select the download location on your desktop. If you didn’t get the option, your computer’s default download location is usually the Downloads folder. In that case, once the file is downloaded, navigate to your download location and move the file to your desktop.

When you download a file from Google Drive, it usually goes to the default download location set in your web browser. This is typically a folder named “Downloads” in your user directory. However, you can change this in your browser settings if you prefer a different location.

When you download a file from Google Drive on an iPhone, the file goes into the Files app, under the “On My iPhone” > “Downloads” folder. If the Google Drive app is installed, you can also choose to make a file available offline within the app, which stores a copy of the file within the app.

To download a PDF from Google Drive:

  1. Open Google Drive in your web browser or the Google Drive app on your device.
  2. Navigate to the PDF file you want to download.
  3. Right-click the file (or tap the three-dot menu on the Google Drive app) and select “Download.”.
  4. The file will download to your device’s default download location. If you’re on a mobile device, you may need to open your file app to find the downloaded PDF.
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