Google Chrome gets extension to open Google Drive files in PC and Mac programs

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 6, 2014
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Google

If you are using Google's online storage solution Google Drive to host or synchronize files across devices using online servers, then you may have noticed that it is not that easy to run those files locally.

While you can do so if you sync them to the device at all times, there is no other option than to download the files first to load them into the program of choice afterwards.

This changes, at least if you are using Google Chrome, with the release of Application Launcher for Drive for the web browser.

It is necessary that you have the most recent version of the Google Drive client software installed on the PC or Mac system as you won't get the new options otherwise.

Once you have installed or updated the software on the device and installed the extension in Chrome, new options become available on Google Drive.

A right-click on a supported file and the selection of Open With highlights installed programs on the device that are compatible with the file type.

google drive load files locally

It may take a couple of seconds before the new choices appear in the context menu. The selection of the Open With option on a test Windows 7 PC displayed options to load the document in Sumatra PDF or Word.

The same procedure on a docx file listed options to load it in Microsoft Word as well.

It is interesting that this won't work for Google specific formats. If you have converted documents to Google formats then you will notice that you cannot open them using local programs.

It did work fine for image file types as well. Open With displayed options to load the image using installed programs such as Fast Picture Viewer or XnView.


The new feature seems to work for some file extensions but not all of them. No suggestions are made when you perform the operation on a plain text document for example, and all scripting and programming language extensions such as .css did not link to any installed desktop programs as well.

If you compare how Google Drive handles the operation to other file synchronization services such as Dropbox or OneDrive. When you select to download files there, you get the option to download them to the local system or open them directly in a program of choice.

This is not the case on Google Drive where you have to download the file first before you can load it in a different program.

For who is the extension then?

The extension has been designed for users of Google Drive who use the service on systems where the data is not synchronized completely to.

The direct open option may save some time depending on how the computer is used, especially if you don't have direct access to the download folder at all times.

Is it a life changer? Not really, but it could prove useful to heavy users of the system.

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Software Name
Application Launcher for Drive
Operating System
Windows, Mac
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