Insync For Linux Brings Google Drive Desktop Sync to Ubuntu

We have discussed Insync a few months ago and talked about how it could turn your Google Drive into a better storage solution than Dropbox. The good thing is, it is now available for Linux and it brings the complete Google Drive syncing capabilities to your Ubuntu desktop.

Grive used to be the syncing solution for Google Drive in Linux. However it is still in early stage of development and some of its features are pretty basic. With Insync for Linux, even though it is also in beta, it is much more polished and brings Dropbox-like feature for your Google Drive.

Note: Insync is available for Windows, Mac and various mobile platforms as well.


1. Go to this page and download the latest beta version.

2. The downloaded file should be in “.tar.bz2” format. Extract the file to your Home folder (if after extracting the file, you see a tar file, extract it further.). You should see a “insync-linux-metapackage” folder.

3. Open a terminal and type the following:

The installer will prompt you to install a whole bunch of files.

You can now download the .deb file from the download site.

Once the installation is done, press “Alt +F2” and type

to run the Insync application.

4. On the first run, it will bring you to the Google site and ask for permission to access your account. You will have to approve it before you can proceed.


5. After it has received the permission, it will bring you to another screen where it prompts you to link your machine to your account. Just give it a name and click “Link Machine to this account”


6. Lastly, open your Nautilus File Manager and you should see the Insync folder in your Home directory.



If you have used Dropbox or UbuntuOne, using Insync is a breeze. When it is running, it will automatically sync all the files in your Google Drive account to your desktop. All the documents will be converted to Ms Office format (.doc, .xls, .ppt etc) so you can edit them on your desktop using your native Office application. The changes will also be synced back to the server.

There is also an appindicator that allows you to access your desktop folder, or the Insync web easily. You can also check out any error occurred during the syncing process.


One restriction for Dropbox is that you each desktop client is only linked to one Dropbox account. You have to resort to hacks to get multiple Dropbox account to work. For Insync, you can add multiple Google accounts and they will be synced to their respective folders within the Insync folder.

Lastly, Insync also works well with the Nautilus File Manager. You can right-click any file and select the appropriate actions (such as Open in Google Drive, Share, get public links etc) under the Insync Context option.


Note: In case the Insync context option did not show up in the context menu, it is probably because the Nautilus-python folder’s ownership is not set correctly. To fix this, type this in the terminal:

Change the “username” to your login username in Ubuntu.

Auto-start Insync after login

As of this beta version, Insync does not come with an auto-start option. You will have to start the app manually everytime you login. One workaround is to add an entry to the Startup Applications so it will run automatically when you log in.

Open the “Startup Application” menu and click the “Add” button.

Enter the detail as shown in the screenshot below:


That’s it.


Damien Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.


  1. It looked like a real solution till the sentence, “All the documents will be converted to Ms Office format (.doc, .xls, .ppt etc) so you can edit them on your desktop using your native Office application.”

    Why would anyone who uses Linux have a “native Office application” — which means, of course, Microsoft Office? My native office app is LibreOffice. It seems like a terrible idea to use something that changes .odt files to .doc or .docx, which then have to be changed back to their Linux formats in order to have the capabilities of its superior programs.

    The only hope for this working is that the “native Office application” mentioned includes Linux office apps also, which the post notably avoids saying.

    1. LibreOffice supports Ms Office format too, such as .doc,.xls, . ppt. So I
      don’t have any problem with that. Personally I would prefer to deal with ms
      office format since most of my colleagues and friends are using that
      formats too. It makes it easier for me to email and collaborate with

  2. I have the same problem – I don’t use and will never use ms formatted documents. I would prefer my documents be stored as I created them – in the open document format. Back to dropbox. Dropbox works well, has a linux client, and doesn’t automatically convert my documents to the inferior microsoft format.

  3. I can agree it would be better Insync does not convert your docs. However: it is a fact I use LibreOffice at home and prefer *.odt. However I do not prefer it at the office (many people still do not seem to understand even Word can use this format….).

    Ad let’s be honest: Google left us out in the dark thus far while InSync has every opportunity to improve itself when leaving the beta stadium.

  4. I was ok with you until you seem to expect my Linux system to have a gui. Not likely. I need a command-line only solution. Next…

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