How to set up and add Google Drive to File Explorer

If you use Windows 10, you know that it adds a separate and distinct shortcut for OneDrive to File Explorer, one that you can’t remove. The same happens with Dropbox if you install it on your Windows 10 computer or device. However, this doesn’t happen with Google Drive, at least not by default. Suppose you use Google Drive regularly and want to install its desktop app on your Windows 10 PC. What if you also want to add Google Drive to File Explorer, both as a Quick access link and as a distinct shortcut in the navigation pane? For instructions on how to do all that, read this guide:

How to add Google Drive to File Explorer

To add Google Drive to Quick access, go to the app’s download page and press on Download under “Backup and Sync, as seen below.

Press Download in the Backup and Sync

A pop-up asks you to agree to the “Google Drive Terms of Service. Click or tap on “Agree and Download.

Download Google Drive’s Backup and Sync for Windows

The file Installbackupandsync.exe is downloaded. Run it and let it make changes when the UAC window pops up. You are notified as the app is downloaded and installed. Wait for the message Installation complete and press Close.

The installation is complete

Next, a pop-up welcomes you to Backup and Sync, the Google Drive app’s current name. Click or tap the Get started button.

Backup and Sync start the configuration wizard

Enter your Google Account email address and press Next.

Enter your Google Account email address

Now type in the password of your Google Account, and then press Next once more.

Enter the password for your Google Account

If you enabled 2-Step Verification for your Google Account, approve the sign-in using your phone.

Approve Google’s 2-Step Verification

Once you’ve been successfully authenticated to your Google Account, the Backup and Sync app tells you that you need to “Choose folders from your computer to continuously back up to Google Drive.” After you do that, you’ll be able to browse and use your backed up folders on the drive.google.com webpage. Click or tap on Got it to continue.

Step 2 of Google’s Backup and Sync starts

By default, Backup and Sync shows you your Windows 10 Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders. Select the ones you want to back up. Then, if there are other folders you’d like to back up to Google Drive, click or tap on Choose Folder and select the folders you want to add to the list (1). For the photos and videos that are uploaded automatically to Google Drive, you can also choose their quality (2):

  • High quality automatically reduces their size but gives you unlimited storage space in Google Drive
  • Original quality uploads your photos and videos at their full resolution, but their size is counted against your Google Drive quota

Finally, the third option you have on this page is a setting to “Upload photos and videos to Google Photos.” If you want all your uploaded photos and videos to become available in Google Photos too, not just stored as files in Google Drive, select this setting (3). Once you’ve configured everything as you want, click or tap on Next.

Choosing the folders to back up and the photo and video settings

On the following step, Backup and Sync lets you “Sync files from My Drive [your Google Drive] to a folder on this computer.” In other words, it lets you add Google Drive to File Explorer, which is what you actually came to this tutorial for. Press Got it to continue.

Step 3 of Backup and Sync starts

Finally, now you can tell Google Drive that you want to “Sync My Drive to this computer.” Put a checkmark on this setting, as this is the one that adds Google Drive to File Explorer (1). Then, you get to see that the default Folder location for the Google Drive folder on your Windows 10 PC is set at “C:\Users\Your User Account Folder\Google Drive”. If you want to change its location, click or tap on Change (2), and select another location. Otherwise, move on to choose what folders from your Google Drive you want to sync to your Windows 10 PC:

  • Sync everything in My Drive – downloads all your files and folders from your Google Drive to your Google Drive folder on your Windows 10 PC
  • Sync only these folders – lets you select the folders from your Google Drive that are going to be downloaded and synced to your Google Drive folder from your Windows 10 computer

Once you’ve made your choices, click or tap on Start to begin syncing your Google Drive files and folders.

Choosing to sync Google Drive to your computer

Depending on how much data it has to sync, it might take a while for Backup and Sync to finish setting up and syncing all the files and folders you’ve selected during the installation process.

Backup and Sync is setting up

You can now open File Explorer: In the Quick access section of its navigation panel (left side of the window), you’re going to find Google Drive. In other words, you’ve successfully added Google Drive to File Explorer! 🙂

Google Drive is added to File Explorer’s Quick access

You can also find the Google Drive folder on your Windows 10 computer by using File Explorer to navigate to its location. As you know now, it’s found either in “C:\Users\Your User Account Folder”, or in the location you specified manually during the setup process of Backup and Sync.

The location of the Google Drive folder

How to add Google Drive to File Explorer’s sidebar (just like OneDrive or Dropbox)

You’ve installed and configured the Backup and Sync app on your Windows 10 PC. However, the app only adds Google Drive in the Quick access section of File Explorer. What if you want it to show up as a distinct entry in File Explorer’s navigation panel, just like OneDrive or Dropbox do? Here’s what you must do for that:

OneDrive shortcut in File Explorer

Use your web browser to go to this GitHub webpage and Download the Google Drive ZIP archive (press Code, then select Download Zip). Alternatively, you can also use this direct link: Download Google Drive registry files.

Download ZIP with Google Drive registry files

Locate the ZIP file on your Windows 10 computer and extract its contents. You should get this:

The Google Drive registry files

Open the Google Drive.reg file using your favorite text editor. Notepad will do just fine, for example.

Opening the Google Drive.reg file with Notepad

Then, search and replace all the %USERPROFILE% values for TargetFolderPath with the full path to your Google Drive folder, using \\ (double-backslash) in the folder path structure. For example, if you configured the Backup and Sync app to use the default folder location for your Google Drive folder, which is “C:\Users\Your User Account Folder”, change all the TargetFolderPath values like this: “TargetFolderPath” = “C:\\Users\\Your User Account Folder”.

Replace the TargetFolderPath values with the path to your Google Drive folder

If you chose to create the Google Drive folder in a custom location on your PC, like on your D: drive, you should change all the TargetFolderPath values to that location. For example, if you created it in “D:\Google Drive”, change the TargetFolderPath like this: “TargetFolderPath” = “D:\\Google Drive”. Make sure to use \\ (double-backslash) instead of \ (single backslash) in the folder structure!

Replace the TargetFolderPath values with the path to your custom Google Drive folder location

When you finish replacing every instance of TargetFolderPath values, save the Google Drive.reg file and close your text editor. Double-click or double-tap on the Google Drive.reg file to run it. Say Yes if you get a UAC prompt, and let the new information be added to your Windows 10 Registry.

Approve the installation of the new registry file

Press OK when the Registry Editor tells you that the new keys have been added to your Windows Registry.

The Google Drive registry keys have been added to Windows Registry

Now open File Explorer. You should see that Google Drive is now listed as a separate entity in its navigation panel, just like you wanted. Neat, right? 🙂

Google Drive was added to File Explorer as a separate shortcut

That’s it!

NOTE: If you change your mind and no longer want Google Drive to show up as a separate shortcut in File Explorer, all you have to do is run the Remove Google Drive.reg file that you extracted earlier.

Do you know other ways to add Google Drive to File Explorer?

As you’ve seen, it’s relatively easy to add Google Drive to File Explorer, as long as you’re OK with having it in the Quick access section. If you want Google Drive to show up as a distinct option in File Explorer’s navigation pane, just like OneDrive or Dropbox, things are a bit more complicated, but doable nonetheless. Did you manage to do it? Do you know other ways to add Google Drive to File Explorer? Share them with us in the comments below, and we’ll update this tutorial as soon as possible.