Google Drive provides 15GB of storage space for free, making it a good option for backing up and syncing files. Accessing your Google Drive account on Windows and macOS is easy, but using Google Drive on Ubuntu is different.
It’s not hard to access your Google Drive files in Ubuntu Linux, you just have to know how to do it. Here’s how to do this using Gnome Online Accounts.
Install Gnome Online Accounts
The System Settings in Ubuntu includes an Online Accounts section, but that’s not the one we’re going to use. We’re going to install Gnome Online Accounts into the Gnome Control Center.
To install the Gnome Online Accounts package, press Ctrl + Alt + T to open a Terminal window. Then, type the following command and press Enter.
sudo apt install gnome-online-accounts
Open Gnome Online Accounts
Once you’ve installed Gnome Online Accounts, type the following to open it.
You can also open Gnome Online Accounts using the Unity Launcher. Click the Search button at the top of the Unity Launcher bar and start typing “gnome control center”.
Click the Settings icon that displays under Applications.
Then, click Online Accounts in the Personal section on the All Settings dialog box.
Add Your Google Drive Account
On the Online Accounts dialog box, click Add an online account.
Click Google on the Add Account dialog box.
Enter the Gmail address for the Google Drive account you want to access and click Next. Enter your password when prompted and click Next again.
Click Allow to let the file manager, Nautilus, access your Google account.
Make sure the Files slider button is on. Close the Online Accounts dialog box.
Mount Your Google Drive in Nautilus
Now you can access your Google Drive account directly in Nautilus. Your account is mounted in Nautilus and shown with your Gmail address in the left pane. Click on your email address to access the files in your account.
You can add as many Google Drive accounts as you want. To add another, open Gnome Online Accounts again and follow the steps in the “Add Your Google Drive Account” section above. Each account is listed separately in the sidebar in Nautilus.
You can also mount your Google Drive folder from the Unity Launcher. Hover your mouse over a mounted drive icon on the Unity Launcher bar to see which Google account is mounted to that icon. Nautilus opens directly to that mounted Google account.
Work With Google Drive Files in Ubuntu
Unlike Windows or macOS, your Google Drive files are not downloaded and stored locally in Ubuntu. You must have an active internet connection to access your account.
To add local files to your Google Drive account, copy the files to your mounted Google Drive folder in Nautilus. To work with files from your Google Drive account offline, copy the files from your mounted account to a folder on your hard drive.
You can also work directly on files in the mounted Google Drive folder. As you change files, those files are immediately synced back to your account online. But this method is slower than working with the files directly on your hard drive.
If you have a lot of work to do on files in your Google Drive account, it’s more efficient and productive to copy them to a folder on your local hard drive first. When you’re finished working on the files, copy them back to your Google Drive account, replacing the original files.
Show Thumbnails for Google Drive Files
By default, Nautilus does not load file previews or thumbnails from mounted remote accounts. But, you can change this. In Nautilus, go to Edit > Preferences.
On the Files Preferences dialog box, click the Preview tab. Then, change the option for Show thumbnails to Always under Files.
Nautilus also does not show the number of items in remote folders by default. To see this number for folders in your Google Drive account, select Always in the Count number of items dropdown list under Folders.
Unmount a Google Drive Account
To unmount a Google Drive account, click the eject icon to the right of your Gmail address in Nautilus.
You can also unmount a Google Drive folder on the Unity Launcher. Right-click on the mounted drive icon for the account you want to unmount. Then, select Unmount.
The icon for that Google account stays locked to the Unity Launcher, unless you select Unlock from Launcher from the right-click menu. Leaving the mounted folder icons locked to the Unity Launcher bar makes it easier to mount each Google account again.
Alternatives to Google Drive on Ubuntu
Google Drive is not the only cloud storage option for Ubuntu. Here are some other options.
Dropbox is a good option because the Dropbox client for Ubuntu works similarly to the Dropbox client on Windows. The files are synced and stored in a folder on your hard drive and you can choose which folders in your Dropbox account to sync. When you install Dropbox in Ubuntu, you get an indicator on the top panel that provides access to Dropbox features.
Mega provides 50GB of storage for free and their MEGAsync tool provides easy syncing between your computer and your Mega account. There’s also a Nautilus extension on the MEGAsync download page that integrates your Mega account into the file manager in Ubuntu.
You can get an additional 20GB of space by installing MEGAsync and 15GB by installing the mobile app.
Additional Cloud Storage Solutions
Other mainstream cloud storage services, like Box and OneDrive, don’t offer Linux clients. You can access OneDrive in a browser and manually download and upload files. Ubuntu used to have Ubuntu One, but that doesn’t exist anymore. But there are several other cloud solutions you can use on Linux.
Google Drive on Ubuntu: Basic but Useful
When working with Google Drive files in Ubuntu, you don’t have a nice indicator like Dropbox. And you don’t have extra features like sharing files. But you can easily access and sync files in your Google Drive account. If that’s the main thing you want to do, you’re all set.