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How to Change a Chromebook Downloads Folder to Google Drive

How to Change a Chromebook Downloads Folder to Google Drive

By default, the Chromebook Downloads folder is just a local storage area on your device called “Downloads”. It’s intuitive and makes sense. But what if you want all the files stored locally on your Chromebook essentially backed up? You can easily do that. How to Change a Chromebook Downloads Folder to Google Drive.

First, I should note that Google used to announce that the Chromebook stores all data in the cloud. That is not the case, and it never has been; at least not by default. Google no longer uses this language when marketing Chromebooks. Anyway, here’s how to store your Chromebook data both locally for offline access and online with Google Drive.

You may want to do this because you want to access these files on another Chromebook or from another device entirely. Other than remotely controlling your Chromebook with your downloads, this is probably the best option for accomplishing this task.

Set up a specific folder or choose the default download folder

For my purposes, I decided to create a new folder in my Chromebook download storage. I named it “Chromebook Downloads” and it’s a subfolder of the main Downloads folder.

This is because I often create, modify, or view some files on my device that I don’t want or need after I’ve done something with them. I download a lot of images for this blog, for example, but I only need them once. So storing them all on Google Drive is a waste of space. And I delete all these one-time files at the end of each day from my Chromebook.

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Notice that I also checked “Available offline” for the folder I created. This ensures that all files from my Chromebook are automatically downloaded to other devices so I can access them when I’m offline.

Use your browser settings

To begin the process of changing the location of your Chromebook Downloads folder, navigate to your settings. But not your Chromebook’s settings. Google moved the Downloads folder out of ChromeOS and into the Chrome browser settings some time ago. So, you need to open the Chrome browser, click on the menu option with three dots and select Settings.

In your browser settings, navigate to the Downloads option. Again, by default it’s usually the local downloads folder on a Chromebook. Here I change it to the newly created “Chromebook Downloads” folder I created on Google Drive in the previous step.

Change the Chromebook Downloads folder to Google Drive

Once you’ve made this change, you’re good to go. Any downloads or files you save via an app to this folder will automatically be on both your Chromebook and Google Drive. And they will be available offline on other computers where you are signed in to your Google account.

Let’s test our Chromebook downloads to Google Drive

To confirm that everything works as intended, I do a little test. You can replicate it if you want to make sure your changes work as intended.

For my test, I navigated to this page and right-clicked on the image of the first post. I chose to “Save Image” and then went to see where it was saved on my Chromebook.

Test Chromebook downloads

You can see above that my Chromebook saves the image to the Chromebook Downloads folder on Google Drive. So far so good.

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Although this file is stored in Google Drive, it should still be available on my Chromebook when it’s offline. I turned off the WiFi radio on the Chromebook, opened the Chromebook Downloads folder under My Drive, and selected the newly saved image. Sure, it shows.

View offline Google Drive file on a Chromebook

And just to double check that the file is properly saved and available on Google Drive, I navigated to Drive in my browser. Of course, I turned the WiFi radio back on first. That’s my Chromebook downloads folder and inside that is the same image file.

Chromebook downloads on Google Drive

File access on other PCs and a handy shortcut

Since the Chromebook files are on Google Drive, I mentioned that the same files are available on other computers and Chromebooks. I fired up a Linux computer and navigated to Google Drive in the browser to check. Of course, the image from my Chromebook is in the cloud and available on that device.

If you’ve installed the Google Drive desktop app, which is now only available to paid Google Workspace users, the same Chromebook files will be available offline on that device. I know most Chromebook owners don’t pay for Google Workspace, but it’s worth mentioning for those who do.

Finally, here’s a little tip for faster access to a custom Chromebook downloads folder that syncs with Google Drive. Go into the Files app on your Chromebook and find the folder you use for downloads and Google Drive. Right-click the folder and you’ll see two useful options: Add Sidebar and Pin to Shelf.

You can choose both or one of these options as they are independent. Pin to Shelf is great for those who want to see their Chromebook downloads folder at all times.

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Personally, I only use the Add Sidebar option. It places a handy shortcut in the Files app for quick access to the folder. You can see it below just under the Recent Files item. Since I usually access these files occasionally, this option works better for my workflow.

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