Google Drive Taking Space On Mac

Expand cloud storage on Mac
CloudMounter connects unlimited storage to Finder.
  • Google Drive only holds 15 GB of free space which is much better than the other cloud storage options. But space includes Google photos, messages, and attachments of your Gmail account too. That's why the 15 GB space gets filled up pretty quickly. Sometimes, we don't even realize what is taking up so much space on the drive.
  • Google Drive allows you to upload photos in full resolution or standard size. Uploading full resolution photos will take more storage space of your account. You can effectively resize your photos to reduce the amount of space which you are using. If you are looking for a step by step process to upload Photos to Google Drive from Mac, read on.
  • Oct 25, 2017 If your local drive doesn't have space to sync your entire Google Drive, here's how you can make Google's new Backup and Sync client do a backup only or sync specific Drive folders.

Download And Install Google Drive For Mac. The first this to do is install the Google Drive for Mac app. This is basically the piece of software that’s going to dictate what gets synced to your computer and what doesn’t. After installing the app, a new folder will be located inside the Documents folder, and will be called Google Drive.

Thanks to the dominance of Gmail, both in our personal and professional lives, lots of us have switched to Google Drive for our cloud storage needs.

Google Drive is generally a great tool. Personal accounts get 15 GB of storage for free; basic corporate accounts get 30 GB. You can edit all kinds of documents, including Microsoft Office ones, right within the app. You can even share files with others and download them too.

The downloading part, however, does sometimes break. Do a quick search online, and you’ll see lots of messages asking for help to the tune of “Google Drive won’t let me download my files.”

A common error here is HTTP 403, saying that access to … was denied. Logically, you might wonder how that can be and why Google could be restricting access to your own files.

Let’s look at some of the reasons behind why you cannot download Google Docs and explore a few ways for how to fix it.

Why Google Drive Won’t Let Me Download Files?

While Google Drive errors for denying access, failing to perform an action, or forbidding something are truly very occasional, they nevertheless result in a fury of questions from users.

Few things are as alarming as not being able to have complete control of your files. So why does it happen?

There are generally three catalysts for Google Drive errors: your user account, your browser, or your Mac (or even a combination of these).

But don’t worry, here’s a thorough troubleshooting guide that will allow you to download your files again in no time.

Try a few ways to download files

Surprisingly, Google Drive gives you several methods for downloading any file. So while there might be a glitch with one of them, others might work as usual.

First, if you cannot download Google Docs files, try to open them in the editor and then select File ➙ Download ➙ pick a format.

Second, for any other file, you can right-click in Google Drive ➙ Download.

Third, you can select any file, then open a menu in the top bar using the three-dot icon ➙ Download.

Fourth, if you double-click on photos and PDFs, or if you choose Preview from the top menu for any other file, you can then click the download icon at the top.

Google Drive Taking Space On Mac Download

Fifth, when you try to download a few files at once, Google Drive will create a zip archive. There are instances where this archive could fail to download. To fix this, close the Google Drive tab — it will give you a warning that files were not saved, select Leave and the download should start properly.

Google Drive Taking Space On Mac Desktop

Use a single Google account to log in

If you’re using multiple Google accounts (e.g. for work and personal), Google Drive sometimes might improperly mix up permissions to download certain files.

Free Space On Mac

To fix this, log out of all Google accounts. Then only log back in with the account that should have access to the file you want to download and try again.

Download a file in private browsing mode

It’s also possible to download any Google Drive file without being logged in to a Google account.

To do so, start by creating a shareable Google Drive link:

  1. Select a file in Google Drive
  2. Click Get Link in the top bar
  3. Change permission to “Anyone with the link” and role to Editor
  4. Copy link

Try open a few browsers in private or incognito mode (Shift + ⌘ + N in Safari) and pasting the link in. The permission errors should now be resolved.

Clear browser cookies and cache

Quite frequently the Google Drive not downloading can be attributed to your browser’s settings, specifically to it saving something incorrectly in its cache files and cookies. So clearing them both could help.

When it comes to getting rid of cookies and cache, every browser is different.

In Safari, for example, you go to Preferences (⌘ + ,) ➙ Privacy ➙ Manage Website Data ➙ Remove All.

In Google Chrome, go to Preferences (⌘ + ,) ➙ Privacy and security ➙ Cookies and other site data ➙ See all cookies and site data ➙ Remove All.

The problem is that the process for each browser is quite different and making sure you delete all cached files and cookies is not easy. When you want full control over the data your browsers retain, you should use an optimization tool like CleanMyMac X.

CleanMyMac X is a powerful but intuitive app that lets you tweak any part of your Mac in just a few clicks. You can scan your drive for old, unused files, get rid of mail attachments, free up RAM, reindex Spotlight, uninstall apps completely, and, of course, clean anything within your browser.

To delete cache and cookies from all browsers at the same time:

  1. Launch CleanMyMac X
  2. Navigate to the Privacy tab
  3. Check all your browsers and select Cookies
  4. Click Remove

After you clear all cache and cookies, make sure the cookies themselves remain enabled for Google Drive to work properly.

Disable ad blockers

With ad blockers rising in popularity over the past few years, some web apps started to inadvertently break in unexpected places.

So if you’re using any ad blocking extension (or an ad blocker app for Safari), turn it off, reload your browser, and try to download from Google Drive again.

Improve your network connection

After you make sure that the “Google Drive won’t let me download” problem is not with Google Drive itself or your browser, it could also be with your Mac, starting with the network connection.

If your WiFi connection is poor or unstable, or simply off, Google Drive might throw all kinds of errors related to file downloading. The best way to troubleshoot your internet connection is to use NetSpot.

NetSpot makes it easy to analyze your wireless network in seconds without all the technical complexities. At a glance, you can get information on signal strength and noise levels. You can test your speed and even create a heatmap to see how the WiFi signal is actually spreading across your space. In the end, it’s so much easier to come up with a quick fix when you know what the problem is.

Mount your drive locally on Mac

Another Mac-centric solution for when you cannot download Google Docs is to bypass the browser altogether and download Backup and Sync from Google, which turns your Google Drive into a folder on your Mac, from which you can copy files just as you would with any local folder.

If you don’t want to take up all your Mac’s storage space with Google Drive, there is one more option you can use.

CloudMounter is a unique tool that lets you mount any cloud storage locally on your Mac, but as an external drive, meaning it would take up no local storage space (just like an external physical hard drive). CloudMounter supports Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon S3, Backblaze — nearly any storage solution you can think of!

Once you mount Google Drive with CloudMounter, you can essentially download any files just by dragging it out of the Google Drive folder to your Mac.

As you can see, the Google Drive not downloading problem has lots of potential solutions. First, try a few options of downloading the file from Google Drive itself. Then, log out and log back in using a single account. Try to go into the private browsing mode. Clear your browser’s cache and cookies with CleanMyMac X. Disable your ad blocker. Stabilize your WiFi with NetSpot. Finally, mount Google Drive as an external drive on your Mac with CloudMounter. If all else fails, restarting your Mac is always there.

Best of all, CleanMyMac X, NetSpot, and CloudMounter are available to you absolutely free for seven days through the trial of Setapp, a platform with more than 210 apps that any Mac user would find incredibly useful, from managing your menu bar (Bartender) to protecting your online privacy (ClearVPN). Test out every Setapp app today at no cost and find the ones you have to add to your collection!

Setapp uses cookies to personalize your experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our cookie policy.

We replaced Google Drive with Google File Stream in November 2017 shortly after it was released, and noticed that it is indefinitely syncing files. See screenshot below.

Even though we were not losing any local hard drive space due to the syncing we did notice that Google File Stream was slowing down our computer, as you can see in the activity monitor screenshot below, Google File Stream was eating away 9.3% of our CPU. This number would vary from time to time and could be as low as 2% of CPU.

After a month of continuous syncing, we decided to call the Google Drive support team to get some answers about why the syncing is taking so long, and we finally got the answers we were looking for, so we want to share them with you!

Why is Google File Stream Syncing Forever?

We have 800GB of files on our Google Drive, so we only wanted to sync 2GB of these files with Google File Stream on one of our Mac’s, and for the rest of the files (798GB) we selected the “Online Only” option. This is done by right-clicking on each folder/file – going down to Drive File Stream – and selecting Online Only. See image below.

We asked Google Drive support why it was taking over a month of 24/7 syncing to sync 2GB of files?
They told us that this is normal because Google File Stream will always and forever be syncing files that are on Google Drive over and over even if they have not been updated since the last time they were synced. We asked why is this? They told us that this is because Google File Stream is continually looking to see if any of the files on Google Drive have been updated, and is syncing them regardless if they were updated since the last sync or not.

The Google Drive support person told us that the Google File Stream was created from the idea their customer had where they wanted to have access to their Google Drive files without taking up space on their computer.

We asked how long does it take to sync 800GB of files from Google Drive to Google File Stream, and they told us about 2 hours. Google File Stream does not actually download any files to your computer in order to sync them, it is simply mirroring files so they show up in Google File Stream for easy accessibility through the desktop app.

If you have any Google File Stream or Google Backup and Sync questions/issues, the Google Drive support team can be reached at

Toll Free, Canada only:


You will also need a call-in PIN which Google provides in your Google Admin console.
Must read How to stop chrome from reloading tabs automatically
Give Us a Heart