Google Drive: Move beyond a mere Dropbox

Here's how to setup Google Drive for organization-wide file sharing.

How to enable Google Drive and set up a Shared Folder

For many organizations, Google Drive might easily replace the need for local shared file storage. Here's how to setup and configure an organization-wide shared folder within Google Drive.

Note: These instructions assume that you are using Google Apps and that your Google Apps administrator has enabled Google Drive for your domain from the Control Panel.

Enable and Install Google Drive

1. Go to Click on the blue "Get started with 5Gb free" button.

2. Click on the blue "Try Google Drive" button.

The renamed "Docs" screen will now display as "Drive".

3. Click on the "Download Google Drive" (for PC or Mac, depending on your system).

You will then need to accept the terms of service. Click on "Accept and Install".

4. Sign in to Google Drive with your Google Apps email and password. (If your organization uses two-factor authentication, you may need to verify your six digit code, as well.)

5. You'll then see two "Getting started" screens. Read how Google Drive works on the first, then click next.

Optional: If you want to selectively sync files, click the "Advanced Setup" button.

Otherwise, click "Start sync". This will sync all existing files from your former Google Docs - now Google Drive - account to your desktop.

Then, wait for the files to sync. When Google Drive is set up on a Windows 7 system, you'll see the Google Drive icon in your system tray in the lower right corner of your desktop.

Setup a Shared Folder with Google Drive

1. Login to Google Drive with your web browser.

2. Next, you'll create a folder. Click "Create" in the upper left, then click on "Folder".

Name the folder something meaningful for you and your colleagues, such as "Shared Files", and then click "Create".

The folder will now appear in the list of folders on the left side of the screen. Be sure the "My Drive" drop-down triangle points downward to display the folders.

3. Now we need to share the folder. To do this, move your cursor over the folder name. A drop down arrow will appear. Click this, then select Share, and then Share from the additional sub-menu.

Here, you can choose to share the folder with specific people (via their email address). For our purposes, we'll share the folder with everyone in the organization. To do this, click the word "Change" found just under - and to the right of - the "Who has access" heading.

Change the Visibility option as desired. In my case, I shared the folder with everyone at my domain. Be sure to check the box to "Allow anyone within (your domain) to edit" if you want to use this as an organization-wide shared folder.

4. Finally, people with access to the shared folder can now find it and add it to their Google Drive.

Users with access to the folder should now be able to search for the folder name while viewing their Google Drive files in a web browser.

When they see the new shared folder, they can drag-and-drop it from the file listing (under the word "Title") to the "My Drive" list at the left of their screen.

From now on, any files added to this folder by users with edit permissions will automatically sync to Google Drive - and then sync to all connected Google Drive accounts on local computers.

Now you can enjoy a powerful file viewing, commenting, editing and syncing tool on your desktop and in your browser. You may never need to use a USB flash drive again.

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About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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