With Google moving from Chrome apps, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) seem to be rapidly replacing them. YouTube Music, Google Maps, and Google Photos have all joined the ranks, and now Google Drive is on the list as well.
One thing to note is that at the time of writing, the PWA appears to only work with personal accounts. Those with G Suite accounts might not see the option to install the progressive web app.
How to Install Google Drive’s PWA
Installing a PWA in Chrome is pretty painless. You don’t have to download anything, and it takes a fraction of a second to get set up.
To get started, fire up Chrome, head to your Google Drive homepage, and then click the plus sign (+) at the end of the address bar.
If you don’t see a plus sign, you can install the PWA from the Settings menu instead. Click the three dots in the top-right corner, and then select “Install Google Drive” from the menu.
A popup appears asking you if you want to install the app; click “Install.”
That’s it! Now, that you’ve installed the Google Drive PWA, let’s take a look at what you can do with it.
How to Use the Google Drive PWA
After it’s installed, the app opens in a new window that looks like any stand-alone program or app you would download to your computer. Even though PWAs are basically just websites, they include features you would typically find in traditional apps, such as offline support, notifications, and background sync.
You can also launch a PWA directly from your desktop. If you double-click the Google Drive icon, the application opens immediately.
After the app launches, you’ll notice it looks identical to the Google Drive homepage, which is intentional. When you navigate around a PWA, it looks and feels the same as the website; everything you can do in a browser, you can do here.
How to Upload Files and Folders
If you want to add new folders or upload a file or folder, click “New” to get started.
Alternatively, you can drag and drop files or folders from your computer directly into the PWA to upload them to your Drive.
After you upload your file or folder, double-click it to open it.
Drive can preview some files in the PWA or open a new tab in Google Chrome. For example, if it’s a Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, PowerPoint) or image (JPEG, PNG, etc.) file, a preview appears inside the PWA.
However, G Suite files (Sheets, Docs, Slides, Drawings) open in a Google Chrome tab.
In our example, we want to open an Excel file as a G Suite file to edit it. To do so, we click “Open with,” and then select “Google Sheets.”
Chrome activates and opens a new tab on the Sheets website. The file loads, and now we can edit it online.
As we mentioned previously, Google Drive has a dedicated PWA, but not all Google products have one yet. So, if you try to open a Docs, Sheets, or Slides file, the Chrome browser will open a new tab so you can view your file.
How to Create Shareable Download Links for Files
If you want to share something, you can generate a link for basically any file on your Google Drive.
First, navigate to the file you want to share, right-click it, and then select “Get Shareable Link.”
The link is copied to your clipboard. Now, you can paste the link directly into an email or message anywhere to share it with your friends or colleagues.
If you want to share a file only with specific people, right-click it, and then click “Share.”
In the window that appears, type the name or email address of the person with whom you want to share the file. Select which type of permissions you want to give her, and then click “Done.” An invitation to your file is sent to the person you specified.
If you want to learn more about shareable links in Google Drive, be sure to check out our article on the topic.
How to Use Google Drive Offline
One of the best things about Google Drive is you can use it offline. The next time you connect to the internet, anything you edit, create, or remove from Drive will sync with the servers.
If you want to use Google Drive offline and on the web with the PWA, you’ll need the Google Docs Offline Chrome extension.
To get it, fire up Chrome, head to the Google Docs Offline web store page, and then click “Add to Chrome.”
Click “Add Extension” in the popup to grant your permission.
After you install the extension, open the Google Drive PWA. Click the Settings icon, and then select “Settings.”
Next, check the box next to “Offline” to enable the extension.
Close the Settings menu to save your changes. Google Drive automatically prepares your most recent files and stores them locally so you can use them offline.
That’s it! Be sure to check out our article on Google Docs Offline if you want to learn more.
How to Uninstall Google Drive’s PWA
If you decide you no longer want Google Drive’s PWA, uninstalling it is simple.
To do so, click the three dots at the top of the app’s window, and then select “Uninstall Google Drive.” The PWA will then be removed.
With the new Google Drive PWA, Google continues its move away from Chrome apps, to make more of its products a sleek, native experience. Although the PWA is essentially the Drive web page without the clutter, the design feels as fluid as a dedicated app should.