How To Use Google Drive On Android


Android tablets and phones come with limited storage space when compared to PCs, and so using some form of external storage is essential.

Some tablets have a micro SD card slot which allows you to add physical external storage.

However all tablets and phones can be configured to use cloud storage like Google Drive.

There are many cloud storage providers, and most provide a free limited storage allowance which can easily be expanded as required.

All Google accounts come with a free 15GB storage allowance on Google drive.

Because you really need a Google account to access the Google Play store, then using Google drive cloud storage is the most obvious and easiest choice.

To access Google drive on Android you can use a web browser e.g. Google chrome, but the easiest way is to use the free Google drive App.

If it it is not already  installed on your device you can download it from the Google Play store.


Using Google Drive on Android

If you click on the Google drive App to open it it will show you a list of folders and files that are currently on your drive.


What is important to remember is that these files aren’t stored on your device, but on the Internet i.e. in the cloud.

Therefore if you want to access these files you will need an Internet connection.

If you try to access (open) a file when you don’t have an internet connection then you will see something like:


Google Drive Folder on Android

If you have been using Google drive with a PC then the Google drive App creates a Google drive folder on your PC that syncs with your Google drive cloud storage.


To copy files to your Google drive cloud storage you move them to the Google drive folder and they will automatically be synced to the online storage.

The Google Drive App on Android doesn’t work the same way and you don’t have a Google drive folder on Android.

Downloading Files to Android and Working Offline

If you want to access files stored on your Google Drive when you are offline then you will need to create a local copy.

Google drive lets you download files to your Android downloads folder, or to cache the file by enabling available offline.

Click on the icon to the right of the files to show the file details

Google-drive-file details

You should see a screen like the one below:google-drive-offline-files

You can either:

  • Download the file to your downloads folder/directory on Android.
  • Cache the file locally.

If you download the file then you will have to go to the downloads folder to read the file when offline.


The download folder is located under the sdcard folder (called primary in Astro file manager), but you can access it using the downloads icon in your Apps tray.

Once it is the download folder you can use a file manager to move it to another location external SD card.

If you cache the file then you can read it from the Google Drive App when offline.

However file caching has size limits, and so it cannot be used for large files like movies, or for lots of files.

[outline style=”yellow”]You cannot move cached files to external storage.[/outline]

Viewing Your Cached files


Click on Menu (top left)  or swipe from left edge of screen to the right.

Then select on device from the list.


You will then see a list of files that have been cached, and that you can access when offline.


The size of the cache  can be changed by going to settings. The maximum cache size is currently 250MB.


 Note: Caching limits didn’t appear to be working when I was testing

You can find the offline files in the following location:


They are stored under a folder with a more or less random name.


Although in the screen shot above it shows a pdf file you cannot open this with adobe reader.

It is in a format that is only understood by the Google Drive App.

Moving Files from Android to Google Drive

You can move files and photos from your android device to Google Drive or from Google Drive to Android by using a file manager.e.g. Astro File Manager.

In Astro File Manager Locate the file then press the menu icon and then share.


Choose Google Drive from the Activity chooser.


If you have multiple Google accounts configured then you can then select the Google account to use.

You also need to select a folder location on Google drive, and then press save to store the file/files.


You can then delete them from your device to free up storage space.

Using Multiple Google Drive Accounts

If you have several Google accounts then each account has an associated Google drive cloud storage available

You can access each of these drives from the Google Drive App.


Click on Menu (top left)  or swipe from left edge of screen to the right.

The account currently being used is shown at the top left. Click the small while arrow to show other accounts (if you have them).

Then press on the account you want to switch to, and switch accounts.

Google-drive-multiple accounts

Transferring Files Between Devices With Google Drive

You can install Google drive on Linux,MAC,Windows,IOS and Android.

Therefore you can use it to copy,move or share files/pictures etc between your PC and tablet.

You simply copy the file to Google drive and download the file from Google drive onto the other device.


Common Questions and Answers

Q- Can I store offline files on external sd card storage?

A- It appears not- See the google drive product forum answer.

Q- Can I copy/move Pictures,Files or folders from Google Drive to an External SD Card.

A- Google drive doesn’t let you do this directly, but you can use a file manager line Astro file manager that will let you do it.

You can also download them to the download folder, connect your device to your PC using a USB cable and use the Windows file manager to move the files.

Q- Can I change to location of the download folder?

A- I haven’t found out how although there are several articles on the Internet that say you can.


Using Google drive cloud storage on your tablet/phone is an ideal way of easily increasing the effective storage space on your phone or tablet, and for moving and sharing files,pictures etc between Android,and other devices.

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