Google Drive is a cloud-based storage system that is currently available for Macs and PCs. Google will be expanding the service to mobile devices, including iOS and Android. Once the service is available on all popular computing platforms, Google Drive will be a pretty good replacement for iDisk, which Apple plans to discontinue in June 2012.
Once you install it on your Mac, Google Drive appears to be just another folder. You can copy data to it, organize it with subfolders, and delete items from it.
Using Google Drive As a Replacement for iDisk
Apple closed its MobileMe service to new subscribers earlier this year; the service will end on June 30, 2012. Many MobileMe users are moving to Apple's iCloud service, which provides many of the same features with the exception of one glaring omission. iCloud doesn't offer an equivalent to MobileMe's iDisk, which is a cloud-based drive for storing data you want to access from any location. Instead, iCloud only lets you store certain file types, mostly those associated with the three standard iWork apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote). Even worse than limiting the type of files you can store, iCloud converts the files you upload to be compatible with the iOS version of iWork. This is handy for working on files when you're mobile, but a pain if you're only planning to share the files with other desktop Macs or PCs.
Google Drive offers to convert documents to their Google Doc equivalents, but you don't have to make the conversion. You can tell Google to keep its paws off your docs; surprisingly, this is the default setting. Take note, Apple.
There are other cloud-based storage systems you may want to consider, including Microsoft's SkyDrive, Dropbox, Box.net, and SugarSync. All offer some usable form of cloud-based storage for Mac users. In this article, we're going to concentrate on Google Drive.
Google Drive Plans
Google Drive is available in multiple tiers. All prices listed are for new customers, and are expressed as monthly charges. Prices may change at any time.
- 5 GB: free
- 25 GB: $2.49
- 100 GB: $4.99
- 200 GB: $9.99
- 400 GB: $19.99
- 1 TB: $49.99
- 2 TB: $99.99
- 4 TB: $199.99
- 8 TB: $399.99
- 16 TB: $799.99
That's quite a range of storage options.
Set Up Google Drive on Your Mac
You will need a Google account. If you don't yet have one, you can create one at:
Once you have a Google account, you can create your Google Drive and download the Mac app that lets you use the cloud-based service.
- Launch your web browser and go to https://drive.google.com
- In the upper right corner of the Google Drive welcome page, click the Sign In button.
- Enter your Google account information.
- You may see a message telling you that you will be notified when Google Drive is available to you. Google Drive was recently announced, and Google is still limiting the number of accounts that can access the service during its early days. If you see this message, click the Notify Me button and Google will send you an email when the service is ready. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
- The Google Drive web site will display, showing you the files you currently have stored. For most new users, this will be zero files and folders. If you use Google Docs, your documents from that service may already be available in your Google Drive.
- While a web-based cloud drive has its attractions, the real power of Google Drive kicks in when you run the service from your Mac without the web interface.
- Click the Download Drive for Mac button. (It may also be labeled Download Google Drive.)
- Agree to the terms of service by clicking the Agree and Download button.
- The Google Drive installer will be downloaded to your browser's download location, usually your Mac's Downloads folder.
- Locate and double-click the installer you downloaded; the file is called installgoogledrive.dmg.
- From the installer window that opens, click and drag the Google Drive icon to the Applications folder.
First Time Startup of Google Drive
- Launch Google Drive, located at /Applications.
- You will be warned that Google Drive is an application you downloaded from the Internet. Click Open.
- You will be asked for your administrative password. Provide the information, and click OK.
- Enter your Google account information, and click the Sign In button.
- The Welcome to Google Drive window will open. You can choose to send crash reports and usage statistics to Google; place a check mark next to the box if you wish to do this. Click Next.
- By default, Google Drive will create its folder under your home directory. If you wish to change the location, click the Advanced Setup button. I recommend clicking the Advanced Setup button, even if you plan to store the Google Drive folder in your home directory. It's always a good idea to see what default settings an app uses, and what you can change.
- The location of the Google Drive folder will display. If you wish to change its location, click the Change button, browse to the target location, and click Open.
- You can select which folders within the Google Drive will sync automatically; by default, all files and folders sync automatically. I recommend leaving this setting as is, at least to start. You can always change the setting later using the Google Drive preferences.
- You can choose to have Google Docs sync automatically; once again, I recommend accepting the default setting.
- Finally, you can choose to have Google Drive automatically start every time your Mac starts up. I recommend accepting the default setting here, too.
- Make your selections and click the Start Sync button.
- Google Drive will start up. You will see a Google Drive folder added to the Finder sidebar, as well as a Google Drive item added to your Mac's menu bar.
That's it; Google Drive is now running. Try opening the Google Drive folder from the Finder sidebar; from here, you can add folders, add files, and move files and folders around.
Anything you place in the Google Drive folder will be available from the Google Drive web site, but to get the most out of the Google cloud service, install Google Drive on any Mac, PC, or mobile device with which you want to share documents and data. Just repeat the installation process described above for each device.