How To Use Google Drive for Android

Google Drive, is Google’s new cloud service which allows document, music, photo and other file sharing. It was launched earlier this year and this guide is designed to show you how to get the most out of it on your Android mobile.

When opening the program for the first time you will be greeted with a confirmation message requesting that you agree to the Terms of Service, so sign your life away by tapping on “Accept” and read on.

The home screen lists a number of options to navigate through such as, items in your Drive, items are shared with you and items that have been starred. If you prefer to switch between email accounts, you can do so by clicking the email address at the top of the screen and selecting an alternate email address listed. For privacy reasons, the email in the image below is greyed out, but usually it would be displayed at the top.

Google-Drive-Main-Menu

Since we are operating the app for the first time, press the Menu button on your phone and select “New…” The “Create New…” dialog box appears where you can create a new Document, Spreadsheet, Document from photo or Upload. The first three options listed were already available on the Google Docs app, however, Upload is a new feature.

Google-Drive-Create-Item

The Upload feature enables users to browse and upload files from their Android device onto their Drive account. However, if you prefer to upload files that are not music or images, you are required to install a file manager, such as ES File Explorer, in order to browse these different files.

To perform a simple upload, choose “My Drive -> New… -> Create New… Upload”.

Google-Drive-Upload

Navigate to the file of your choice (in our case, an image in Gallery) and select it. Once opened, you can amend the document title if you wish, change email account and convert the file to a Google Docs document. We decide to leave the default settings and press “OK.”

Google-Drive-Upload-Image

Your file is should then be uploaded to Google Drive (as per below).

Google-Drive-Manage-Files

When uploading specific files, you need to specify which folder you want to upload the file to or it will upload to your Drive root directory. Folders can be shared, renamed and deleted but they cannot be sent to anyone or made available for offline access. Unfortunately, the Android app does not yet have the create folder feature available. You can create folders by using the web interface from a desktop, and then these folders will be available for use on your Android app.

To view your Drive items, click on the ‘My Drive’ option and ensure to select the “refresh” icon to update files stored on your Drive as this is not performed automatically. For items that are more important you can star them by tapping the “star” icon next to the file name.

Google-Drive-Manage-Files

Tapping the “arrow” icon provides you with a range of options for the file such as making it available offline, adding a collaborator or opening the file. If you press the “dotted menu button” in the top right you are given a further list of options (i.e. send, delete, rename). Click the “tick” icon on the top left when you have finished editing the item.

Google-Drive-Image-Preview

The “Settings” for the Google Drive app allows you to manage the Cache size which is set to 50MB by default but can range between 25MB to 200MB. Furthermore, you have the ability to encrypt or decrypt documents and enable a reminder to advise you when you are no longer connected to a Wireless network. For users who have the free Google Drive app, there is the option to purchase more storage as well. The free version entitles users to store up to 5GB, however, you can easily upgrade to 25GB for less than $2.50 a month.

Google Drive for Android is a great little app that lets you take control over your Google cloud-hosted files. Hopefully a create folder feature will be added soon, but aside from that, it works pretty well. Please comment below with any questions or thoughts.

Google Drive for Android

6 comments

  1. you forgot to mention – download a file. they just call it “make available offline”. throws it in an obscure location like — sominlike /sdcard/Android/com.google.docs/ (can’t remember off top of my head)

  2. I did indeed, thanks for pointing that out!

    The actual location of files saved for offline use is /mnt/sdcard/Android/data/com.google.android.apps.docs/files/pinned_docs_files_do_not_edit/-gibberish-/

    Clearly they don’t really want you accessing the files from there :)

  3. I just wish it had a security feature on it from your phone. For example dropbox for android can be set to where you have to enter a four digit code to enter the drive. There is no way to set that up on Google Drive.

    • True enough, I do find it lacking in the security department too. One thing that I used is third party app locker to protect the app. You can try them out too.

  4. You mention that one can switch between email accounts but not how to link a different account. Is anyone able to explain how this is done?

    • You have to add a new Google account in your Android phone for it to show up in drive. Once you have added the new account, you will be able to switch between the various email addresses.

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