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One of the biggest weaknesses of browser-based cloud systems like Google Drive, is that you generally are not able to open files using apps installed on your computer directly from the browser. Many of us who use Drive agree that being able to do so would probably help increase overall adoption of the system, and in fact, Google has recently integrated the ability to do this in Drive.

Looking at the new Google Drive feature

As stated above, the main idea behind this new Drive feature is being able to open files stored in Drive using applications installed on your computer. With previous versions of Drive you usually had to first download the file from Drive, then open it with the program on your computer. If you wanted to update the file, you would then have to upload it back to Drive.

This is hardly ideal for companies, especially those who want to use Drive as their main file storage system. Google has now updated Drive, thereby enabling you to open files in Drive using apps on your computer.

For example, say you have a Google Sheet you use to track sales data and want to export this to your tax program. With the new update you will be able to right-click on the file in Drive and open it in the tax program without having to download and open it on your computer first. When you save the edits you make, the changes will be made to the file directly in Drive.

How do I enable this?

If you would like to use this feature, you first need to ensure that you are using the latest version of Drive. You can enable this – if this hasn’t already been done – by opening Drive in Chrome, pressing the cog, and selecting Turn on the new Drive.

Once you have enabled the new Drive, you need to download the Drive app to your computer. This can be found on the main Drive website. Once installed on your computer, go ahead and sync it up with the account you use for work or the account you use for Drive.

When you want to open a file using an app, open Drive in Google Chrome and right-click on a file. SelectOpen with and you should see relevant apps installed on your computer in the drop-down menu that opens.

We should note here that not every file type will be compatible with this feature and it only works with Google Chrome. For example, if executable files (.exe and .dmg) will not work as they need to be physically present on your computer. Some file types that will work however include:

  • Any Microsoft Office file (.PPTX, .DOCX, .XLSX) can be opened using the related Office program.
  • Images like .JPEG, .TIFF, .PSD, .PNG, etc. can be opened by either your computer’s default image viewer or Adobe Photoshop if this is installed.
  • Video files like .MOV, .AVI, .MP4, etc. can be opened using certain video apps on your computer.
  • Audio files like .MP3, .MPEG, and .WAV, can be opened using some apps like Quicktime.

Please note that you do need to have relevant apps installed on your computer, and you need to be using the latest version of Google Chrome for this to work.

If you would like to learn more about this feature, and using Drive in your business, contact us today.

Published on 19th August 2014 by Jeanne DeWitt.

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