Recently Google released Drive Stream, software you install on your computer that enables you to access Google Drive files on your computer. Drive Stream replaces the old offline Google Drive app. The new Drive Stream is meant to help reduce drive space demands on your computer and reduce unnecessary bandwidth usage while syncing files. Even if you have gigabytes of files stored online in Google Drive, Drive Stream allows you to select only the files you want to sync and have available offline.

When installed, Drive Stream appears as an external drive on your computer. You can move files around, rename them, and download as needed so you can work offline. There is no need to sync your entire Google Drive–only sync files you need while you’re away from an internet connection.

Using Drive Stream on Your Computer

Early next year, 18 March 2018, Google will officially shut down the old Google Drive for Mac/PC. If you want to be able to work on your Drive files offline you will have to upgrade to Drive Stream. You can download the software from

Once installed, Google Drive will appear as an external drive on your computer. Management of your Drive files will appear to be very similar to managing all other files on your computer. In addition, Drive Stream will allow you to select the files you want to download and sync between your computer and Google Drive online.

Instructions on how to keep folders and files offline:

  1. Click the Drive File Stream Menu  icon for Google Drive Stream  .
  2. Click Open Google Drive folder  icon for Google Drive  .
  3. Right-click the file or folder you want to save offline.
  4. Click Drive File > Stream Available offline

GIF showing where to go on computer to access Drive Stream and select offline

Do not confuse Drive Stream with another new Google Drive application, Backup & Sync. Though they are both applications that help manage Google Drive on your computer, they are two very different applications. Drive Stream is for enterprise and EDU Google accounts ( Backup & Sync is the Google Drive app meant to be used with consumer Google accounts ( If you have both a consumer Google account and an account, it is possible to install both apps on the same computer to manage the two different Google accounts.

See the PDF for this Teaching Tip.  


Google’s support page for Drive Stream:

More information about Google Backup & Sync:

A presentation on Drive Stream and Backup & Sync:


Christen Bouffard

Christen Bouffard is an instructional designer, adjunct faculty, and Google for Education Certified Trainer with over thirteen years of design experience in academics and higher education.