We’ve all been there. You have one or two devices you primarily do your work on and just when you need that one file that you were dealing with earlier in the day, your device you have with you doesn’t have the file you need to finish the job. It’s happened to me on countless occasions and I’m honestly embarrassed to admit that I’ve even deleted locally stored files on multiple occasions with no way to ever get them back.
It’s a relic from an older era, I suppose: the need to work with local files. There’s still something in my Windows 98-laden brain that feels better about using and editing files that live on the device I have in front of my face, even if there’s a better and more productive way to go about it. After years with a Chromebook, I slip back in to the habit of downloading files and email attachments right to my Chromebook only to have to rummage through them all over again the next time I feel like changing Chrome OS channels or switching Chromebooks.
And there’s no need for this! So, what we want to show you today is how to set up your default downloads folder so you never have to wonder “do I need anything on this device?” ever again. The process and setup is painfully simple and, as a Chromebook user, you really should be working in this way to minimize your aggravation and fear about losing saved files.
Make your folder
First up, you need to create the folder that will act as your main Downloads location. You know it well; it is the virtual junk drawer on your device. It is the place all the random, temporary files go to live while you need them. Regardless of this phenomenon, we all end up dropping relatively-important files here right alongside the junk and thus risk the possibility of deleting something worthwhile when we purge the folder. Maybe even worse, we risk not having the file available to us when we actually need it again.
So, you need a space on your Google Drive where you can still put all the junk and not feel the need to de-clutter it as often. Head over to drive.google.com or to your file manager and simple add a new folder. You can name this whatever you like, but I precede mine with a few underscores so the folder is always up top when I sort my files alphabetically. Once this is done, we need to point Chrome to it.
Set your default downloads folder
Next up, you need to head to your Chrome settings. For Chromebook users, you’ll need to open a new tab and access your settings via the 3-dot menu. In the very near future, Chrome OS settings will be split from Chrome settings, and for this you need to be in your Chrome browser settings. (This process can also be used on Windows or Mac devices.) Once there, go to Advanced > Downloads > Location and hit the button labeled Change. Now, use the file manager to navigate to and select the folder you created in the last step and click the blue Open button.
At this point, you’ve now set your default downloads folder as a Google Drive folder of your choosing, and this will make sure all those quick files you grab offline via a website, app, or email will all end up synced and available to you wherever you go and whenever you need them. If you’ve set up Google File Stream on a Windows device or Macbook, you can do this exact same thing as well.
Once this is set up and running, you’ll never have to worry about where your files are from work earlier in the day. You won’t have to wonder if you really need all those locally-stored files in the event that you need to Powerwash your Chromebook and you won’t have to think twice about jumping through to other channels of Chrome OS like we talked about in last week’s Chromebook Tip Tuesday. Google Drive is a great tool that Chromebooks access and leverage better than any other device around, and its time for many of us to let go of the old ways of doing things and start downloading to the cloud.