How to customize the folders synced in your Google Drive desktop app

I am a power user of Google Drive. I use the service daily for most of my writing needs. During my decade at Drive, I had one instance where I lost almost all of my work (thanks to a third-party sync tool that went wrong). Since then, I’ve been busy backing up Google Drive. For this I rely on rclone to back up specific directories in Google Drive to an external drive attached to mine System76 Thelioconstantly Pop!_OS.

This primary backup also includes certain folders from other computers that I have synced to Drive, which is done through the Google Drive desktop app. What I don’t do is sync the entire contents of Google Drive to my desktop. Why? First of all, there is no Google Drive desktop client for Linux. Second, mine MacBook Pro M1 Storage space is limited, so it wouldn’t be wise to sync the entire contents of my Google Drive account. Additionally, I prefer to access these files through the web browser when I’m working on my laptop.

Likewise: Why is Google Photos stealing all my online storage?

However, there are specific folders on my MacBook Pro (e.g. Documents) that I would like to sync with Google Drive. You too can configure the Google Drive desktop app to sync specific folders to Drive, and I’ll show you how.

The only things you need are a Google Drive account and the Google Drive desktop app installed on your computer (which can be either Windows or macOS – I’ll be demonstrating with macOS).

Let’s start.

Adding a new folder for synchronization

1. Access Settings

The Google Drive desktop client should already be running on your system. You should see an icon in your top bar (illustration 1).

The top bar icon of the Google Drive desktop client in macOS Monterey.

The Google Drive Desktop Client icon as seen on macOS Monterey.

Image: Jack Wallen

Click on this icon and then click on the gear icon in the pop-up window (figure 2).

The Google Drive desktop client pop-up menu in the top bar.

The Google Drive desktop client pop-up gives you access to the Settings window.

Image: Jack Wallen

You should then see another popup menu (figure 3).

Accessing the settings window from the Google Drive desktop client icon menu.

The gear icon pop-up menu in the Google Drive desktop client.

Image: Jack Wallen

Click in this menu settings.

2. Add a new folder

In the new window (figure 4), click add folder.

The Google Drive desktop client settings window.

Adding a new folder for the Google Drive desktop client to sync with Drive.

Image: Jack Wallen

This will open the Finder Chooser (Figure 5).

The macOS Finger Picker window.

Locate the folder to add to the sync.

Image: Jack Wallen

Locate and select the new folder you want to sync with Drive and click Open. You will be returned to the Google Drive desktop client settings window where you will see the new folder listed.

After adding, the client will automatically upload the files and subdirectories to the newly added folder. Depending on the number of files (and the size of those files), the initial sync may take some time.

Locate these files in Drive

Once these added folders are synced to Google Drive, you may be surprised that they are not found in the root of Drive. Instead, you’ll find a listing called Computer in the left sidebar. Expand this entry and you should see the computers you have configured to sync folders to Drive (Figure 6).

The newly added synced folders as they appear in Google Drive.

The computer entry in Google Drive.

Image: Jack Wallen

Congratulations, you have configured the Google Drive desktop client to sync added folders from your desktop or laptop computer to your Drive account.

About Willie Ash

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