If you're a Google Drive user, looking for a cross-platform GUI tool that allows you to easily sync your Drive files and folders to your desktop, you've probably found that Google comes up short for certain platforms (cough, cough ... Linux). To that end, you've probably turned to a tool like Insync. This particular tool/service has been my go-to for syncing Drive to the Linux desktop for quite some time now, and it has yet to fail me.
However, there was always one little issue I didn't care for with the app. The issue in question was that the Insync tool was forever relegated to the system (or notification) tray. To interact with Insync you'd click the Icon and work with the pop-up. With the release of Insync 1.5, that changed. Along with this change has come a few really important updates to the app.
Let's take a look at what you can now do with Insync. I'll be demonstrating on Elementary OS, but the app behaves the same, regardless of platform.
SEE: Google Drive: Tips and tricks for business professionals (Tech Pro Research)
How you upgrade will depend upon the platform you use. I highly recommend downloading the necessary installer for Insync 1.5 from the Insync Download page and running it. The Linux platform, which you might have installed from a PPA, has yet to pick up the new version. Because of that, the only way to get the latest iteration is to manually install. This can be taken care of with the following steps (again, I'm demonstrating on Elementary OS):
- Close the current running instance of Insync
- Download the latest release.
- Save the file to ~/Downloads.
- Open a terminal window.
- Change to the necessary directory with the command cd ~/Downloads.
- Install the new file with the command sudo dpkg -i insync*.deb.
- Allow the installation to complete.
- Start an instance of the newly installed Insync from your desktop menu.
The new app window
As I mentioned, the new Insync app window is no longer permanently attached to the system tray drop-down. If you click on the system tray icon and select Open App Window, a standalone window will appear on your desktop (Figure A).
From this app window, you can do everything you could from the previous Insync drop-down—and more. From the new Insync window, you can get to Settings by hovering your cursor over the upper left corner of the window and selecting Preferences from the pop up (Figure B).
To access your account settings, click on your profile image and select Account Settings from that pop up (Figure C).
This will be, for many, the highlight of the latest Insync release. The developers finally opted to emulate the Google Drive file/folder shortcuts. From these shortcuts, you can:
- Create a new file.
- Sync to a custom location.
- Change location.
- Copy share link.
- Move to trash.
This makes it significantly easier (from previous iterations of Insync) to interact with files and folders. To gain access to these shortcuts, do the following:
- Open the Insync App Window.
- Click your profile image.
- Select Files.
- Hover your cursor over the file you want to work with.
- Click on the shortcut for the action you want to use (Figure D).
If you prefer to interact with files via a context menu, you can right-click a file or folder entry in the Files listing and select the shortcut action you want to use from there (Figure E).
You'll also find that all of the old features you depend upon are still there, but every single aspect of the app/service has been refined and vastly improved.
A solid service, greatly improved
Insync is one of those tools you tend to set and forget. That's exactly what is needed to keep your Drive files/folders in sync with your desktop. I tend to use Insync more as a backup for Google Drive than I actually interact with the tool. At least that was the case with previous incarnations. With these changes to Insync, chances are I'll interact with the app on a more regular basis. Thanks to Insync for making cross-platform Google Drive to desktop syncing a reality.
- How to sync Google Drive in a non-standard location (TechRepublic)
- How to blacklist files and folders in Insync to prevent filling up Google Drive (TechRepublic)
- Insync takes Google Drive to the next level on Android (TechRepublic)
- How to connect multiple Google cloud accounts to Grive2 (TechRepublic)
- What's the best cloud storage for you? (ZDNet)
- Google Drive for Android review (CNET)
- Google Cloud launches Cloud Identity as standalone service (ZDNet)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.