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Google Drive and Chrome Now Work Together In The Most Awesome Way


In a marriage of the ultimate convenience, Google Drive and Google Chrome are to work together in the most crazily productive way ever. And it’s going to blow your socks off.

We’ve already seen how the search giant plans to blur the lines between local and web on Windows and OS X by letting local files ‘associate’ with compatible Chrome Apps.

This hand-off is about to become a two way street. With the rollout of a new extension, you’ll able to do the opposite: open files from Google Drive on the web in a local, native app using Chrome.

Driving Productivity

The feature works using a new Chrome extension called Application Launcher for Drive (by Google) and an updated version of the Drive desktop syncing client.

Working together, the feature allows you to open files from Google Drive in a compatible app installed on your Windows or Mac PC. You don’t need to download the file, sync it to your desktop or anything else.

This would allow you to, for example, open a .psd file in Photoshop, a .png in Microsoft Paint or a .pdf file in Adobe Reader.

Google say all changes you make to the document while open in a native app are saved and synced back to Google Drive.

Rachel Barton, Product Manager of Google Drive, sums up the benefits in a blog post announcing the feature:

“So, no matter what you keep in Drive, using the web to access and manage files doesn’t mean you’re limited to using applications that only work in your browser.”

Trying it Out

If you’re excited to try it out you can…sort of.

First off, you need to be running Windows or OS X and have the latest version of the native Google Drive sync client installed. This is a requirement; without Google Drive client installed the web service has no idea what compatible apps you have installed on your computer.

Download Google Drive for PC & Mac

Secondly, the feature currently only works in Google Chrome on Windows and Mac OS X with the ‘Application Launcher for Drive’ extension installed (which you may already have, as Google seems to have added it in the background). You also need to be using the ‘new’ Drive interface.

‘Application Launcher for Drive’ Extension on Chrome Web Store

If you check off all the requirements above but still don’t see local apps listed in Drive’s right-click menu try rebooting — this seems to kick the feature into gear.

If the web and the desktop continue to blur at this pace, we’ll be needing some pretty strong glasses to separate them in the future!

  • While this is great, I am *still* waiting for an official Drive client on Linux…

    As a paying subscriber and Chromebook user, I’d appreciate it if Google could do this.

    • Jerry Janes

      ^^^ What he said.

    • I hear ya on that. I subscribed to Insync while I wait for Google to do what they should have done a long time ago. How hard could it be for a company that actually uses Linux in-house?

      • Dragonbite

        And already supports Android (Linux), Chrome OS (Linux) and OS X (Unix)!

        • The Linux/Unix part isn’t the hard part. OS X uses Finder, and just Finder. Android doesn’t even require a file manager, each app manages itself. Chrome OS is literally Chrome and a desktop added to it; as a result, you get three very different products, even though they all run on a variant of UNIX.

    • Dragonbite

      There is Grive too, which is what I use, but it would be great if Google would provide a Linux client like they said they were going to when the announced Google Drive how many years ago?! (still waiting).

      I’m wondering who will be first….. Google with Google Drive for Linux, or Microsoft with OneDrive or Office for Linux! Place your bets!

      • Call me crazy, but I think that OneDrive for Linux would be more likely at this rate. Microsoft has customers they want to attach themselves to. Google just kind of “gets” customers & users, regardless of support.

        • Dragonbite

          So is Google really “pro-Linux” or just “less anti-Linux” than the other guys?

          • I don’t think they’re either. They equally support their platforms; however, to support Linux involves integrating into at least a handful of file managers (Nautilus, Caja, Nemo, Marlin, Dolphin, I could go on). Furthermore, for most users, an online client suffices for now. So, it makes sense to take some more time than usual, but this amount of time is a bit ridiculous.

            Google has always been pro-Linux, it just isn’t fun for them to develop for I guess.

          • Aiui, pretty much. Also factor in that Linux user base is already wildly small. The subset of those who would use drive? Smaller again. It’s easy to demand a client but for google that means assigning someone to maintain, build and debug it – and carving out ainfrastructure for qa, support, and so on – in the back end as well as the user facing side.

            They are a business and the Linux team is already stretched thin…. Gotta out the resources where they bring the most benefits. Since drive works in a browser… It ain’t that.

  • Boothy

    Good feature this.
    Hopefully they’ll bring a similar thing to Chrome OS too, in the future. I always use the Files App for, as it allows you to open files with Chrome Apps (rather than just drive attached apps).

  • If you already have the Google Drive desktop client installed, then the file you want to edit is already on your hard drive. So, if you want to edit it in a native app, you could just go to it in your file browser and open it like a regular file (since it is).

    The only benefit this provides is if you already have Drive open in your browser, but I don’t think most people keep it open most of the time.

    I just don’t see how this is much of a big deal. Is there something more to it that I’m missing?

    • Boothy

      Well, I was hoping that it might work for a secondary Google account, but alas it doesn’t.
      I have my personal account synced, but can’t use native applications to open files in my business Drive account.
      So, yeah, all it is really is another way to achieve the same thing.
      Must be to encourage more use of the Drive interface. I guess….

    • I use selective sync on my desktop, so I don’t have all my files stored locally.

      This is one those features that is really useful…. To a small subset of users. Everyone else… Well they lack the gap it bridges.

  • Alucard291


    • Nathaniel Webb

      chmod +x yawn . sh

  • Vin

    I don’t understand. I’m relatively new to Chrome having just bought my first Chromebook (an HP 14″ (celeron) Chromebook) 3 months ago. I love it, but am trying to keep it lean (not many extensions or apps) for when I upgrade to a better Chromebook. Is this a useful extension for my Chromebook or is this something for people using the Chrome browser on other platforms (PC, Mac) only? What about for my Chrome browser on my Android phone?

    • FlacVest

      No. Only useful on Macs or PCs.

      Ideally, what this means is that you can take your personal chromebook to a coffee shop, or whatever, and sync everything to Drive as usual. Then, without downloading anything, just go to your work computer and open that same file in Microsoft Word and continue editing.

      Really, it’s useful if you have to constantly access Drive files, or your files, on a computer that isn’t yours.

      So if you’re in college you can open up Drive documents on their computers without downloading and going through that loophole.

      TLDR: If you needed it you’d have complained about it by now.

  • Smallwheels

    Something is just flat out messed up with Google and the Chrome browser for me. This week I got a new Acer C720P Chromebook. When I went to Drive and opened a document to see how the Chromebook worked, the cursor was appearing two lines down and to the right of where I clicked. I tried this on my GNU/Linux machine and got the same results. On the Chromebook I clicked those two little chevrons on the right side to hide the document controls. It worked to hide them. The big problem was that there was no button to make them return. The ESC button had no effect. I’m very disappointed in whatever is going on.

    I might have to just dual boot the machine and live with GNU/Linux for most of my work. I like the machine.

    Not having a way to delete files in the Offline folder is amazingly stupid. The way to do it is to type in the search box “Chrome:delete-internals”. Then a couple of buttons need to be pressed on that new page. Unfortunately it deletes everything in the Offline folder. There is no choosing which things to delete.

    I’m not impressed with the way Drive integrates with Chrome OS.

    • Smallwheels

      A few hours after typing about Drive having problems with my two different machines I found the problem, or almost found it. The Acer Chromebook automatically loaded a bunch of extensions into my system. Maybe these are the most popular and Google feels they should be added.

      My two machines were synchronized for a while. I turned that off but the Chromebook extensions had already been added to my GNU/Linux machine. They don’t disappear when sync is turned off. In the settings ALL sync things are turned off.

      One or more of the extensions weren’t playing nice with each other and that was causing the mouse pointer to be at one point and the cursor to be three lines and twelve letters to the right while in documents on Drive.

      I logged into Drive using Firefox and didn’t have the same problem. That meant that the problem was within Chrome and Chromium. I disabled almost all of my extensions and the problem has gone away. Now I need to narrow the search to locate the culprit. I will only turn on these extensions one by one as they become needed. I don’t feel like doing it all at once.

  • Roland

    Would be nice if this worked with Chrome OS, & allowed me to open .docx files in Word Online e.t.c. instead of having to download to my Chromebook then upload to OneDrive, as I prefer to keep all of my files in Google Drive.

    Has the ability to create links to Google Drive folders in the Chrome OS Files app been removed in the latest Dev Channel build, as I’m unable to add or remove Folder links?

    • I think that’s already a thing. It’s just that MS needs to register Word Online etc. as a file handler in Drive, and then you can connect your MS and Google accounts and use the MS applications to open things directly from Drive. There’s a selection of apps that already do this.

  • I wish the PC/Mac extension would show all files in the native file browser, regardless of whether you have synced them or not. That way you could easily open them on demand without having to take up loads of hard drive space.

  • irancplusplus

    I there a free software similar to insync?

  • Gilliam

    Now Drive for Linux becomes even more important.