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Google Drive To Be Default Download Location on Chrome OS

Zip Files Are Treated Like DrivesGoogle Drive has been enabled as the default download location on Chrome OS, according to a recent commit by developers.

The decision to change to the cloud storage service has been informed, in part, by the needs of enterprise and education — both of which make up a sizeable chunk of Chrome’s user base.

In a bug report requesting that ‘save to Drive’ be made default, the following justifications for the switch are put forward:

  • Reduce the impact of users changing devices
  • Reduce the impact of device failures
  • Reduce the impact of profile corruption (this is rare)

Current Plan

‘Most Chromebook users have ample storage space thanks to the free 100GB Drive storage offer’

At present, all files downloaded from the web, system screenshots and a number of app-related file exports, are stored in a local ‘Downloads’ folder accessible from the file manager. This folder is wiped when a user resets the Chromebook (whether intentionally or because of an issue).

But in an upcoming update to the developer builds of the OS, Google Drive will take over. Given that most Chromebook users will have ample storage space thanks to the 100GB of free storage offer, auto-saving of files to it shouldn’t create an issue.

It also helps that Google just dropped the pricing of additional storage, making a huge 1TB of space available for just $9.99 a month.

Saving Space, Saving Users

Chrome OS cant boot, requires recovery.

Chrome OS Recovery Screen

There are a tonne of reasons why such a switch makes sense, not least of which is cutting down on the amount of disk space given over to files, which are often stored twice when manually copied over to Drive.

If you like the idea the good news is that you don’t have to wait for Google to implement it; it’s already possible to make Drive your default download location through ‘System Settings > Advanced > Downloads’.

For those whom the change isn’t ideal, don’t panic: while intended to roll out as default Google will still allow  the option to set the default download location to a local folder. Tentatively targeted at Chrome OS 35 Dev, it will also be awhile before this lands in Stable.

  • Jasper Vinkenvleugel

    So that will be Download > Chromebook > Drive. Which means, unneeded data usage. Why can’t it be like Download > Drive?

    • nebula

      It’ll probably work that way.

    • Yeah, doesn’t the Chromebook download the file locally and then has to upload the file to Drive? That’s like twice the time, which is why I tend to save large files on my SSD, not Drive. :c

    • Sebastiaan Franken

      I’m guessing you use a 3g capable Chromebook? Most chromebook users have their machine hooked up to WiFI or wired connections so it’s a non-issue to them (as it is to me).

      • Paul Arnold

        I’m not disagreeing, Sebastiaan, but I just don’t see how 3G storage would be more affected than a strictly WiFi CB. I have the 3G model, and that’s why I’m following up with this question.

    • James Welbes

      unneeded data usage? I think most people are on wifi most of the time and don’t really care about data usage.

      I’m sure they’ll let you keep your local SSD as the default if you want to. It’s already possible to manually make drive your default download folder right now so I imagine we’ll always have the option.

  • I’ll just stick with default to my HD. I only download temporary stuff to the machine and I don’t want to clog up my Google Drive space that way.

  • ForSquirel

    This is stupid.

  • Sean Lumly

    This is a fantastic move. It may not be for everyone, but for the majority of people, it will make things far more user-friendly. The very reasonable price of storage makes this attractive, even for people like me!

  • Basilio Gonzalez

    Having crouton installed on my Acer C710 Chromebook, will this update effect crouton?

    • ForSquirel

      As long as you can set your download directory then no, but if you were to use the ‘default’ ie, gdrive, then yes but only if you’re trying to share data between ChromeOS and Linux.

      Since you can’t browse the filesystem in Chrome OS I use the Download directory as a means to pass stuff from one side to the other. Ie I’m working at the command line and need to upload something via browser. I have to copy it over to the download directory so that chrome can see it since I only have command line installed under crouton.

      Sounds confusing, but I think that makes sense.

  • Roland

    I use the Downloads folder as a scratch disk for screen shots and pictures for my blog, having save to drive as default is going to make a simple case of taking a screen shot to upload to my blog harder as it’s going to be saved to drive, then saved to local storage just so I can upload, as I like to keep my files in drive all tidy in folders.

  • dourscot

    Already use this feature – can’t really think why anyone using a Chromebook wouldn’t want Drive as the default save location. You can always save locally for individual saves or set Chrome to ask each time.

  • James Welbes

    my default download folder is already my Google Drive

    • Danny McVey

      How do you configure this?

      • James Welbes

        go to Settings > Show Advanced Settings > Downloads > Change

        Select the folder you want to be your default download

        • Danny McVey


  • Kenny Strawn

    Personally have a “ChromebookDownloads” subdirectory of my Google Drive, to be honest, and THAT happens to be my default download location. This way, whenever I take a screenshot, it’s automatically synced to the iOS Google Drive app on my iPhone 4S, ready to post on any social network — yes, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — no matter where I go. Oh, yeah, and it’s STILL separate from all the other Drive clutter — essays for English classes, presentations for Health classes, spreadsheets for math classes, oh, yeah, and mobile camera pictures — regardless.

    To be honest, this should have been the decision from the beginning… heck, to be honest, they should just remove the local “Downloads” location completely and do everything from Drive. Even things like unpacked extension/app management, since Google Drive content can be made to get saved offline anyway from the file manager with just a simple checkbox.


  • football

    pliz someone help me!!! i have deleted files forever from my google drive, i am using ubutu , pliz help me urgent!!!

    • Deftdrummer

      So you are savvy enough to run Linux on a Chromebook yet too stupid to understand that if you delete something from the cloud that it’s gone forever? Are you seriously trolling?

  • LiamTHX

    I personally hate the integration with Google Drive, because of how tedious it is to download a file from it and how limiting it is to edit it or something while it’s in Google Drive.

    • Deftdrummer

      I agree, and in that regard Dropbox is still king.

  • The History Man

    As a grown up, I would like to be in control of where my screenshots or any other downloads end up, not have the software provider forcing me to put it where ‘nanny’ tells me to.

    In fact, as someone with a slow Internet speed, Google Drive is seldom the right place for most of my downloads, and I am in the process of getting a TB HDD to connect via the USB socket on which I will be storing all my files, secure and also easy to access from any computer when I take it with me.

    Unfortunately, every time I do a screenshot of something in Chrome I will now have to fiddle in the Files app to rename it and then move it to my drive, when a grown up OS would allow me to both choose a name and a download location on saving.

    Sad, as I enjoy so many other features of Chrome.