How to change your Chromebook downloads folder to make sure your files are always available

Jack Wallen shows you how to change the default download location on your Chromebook, so that you never lose another file due to pressure washing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve washed my different Chromebooks, it happens on a regular basis. Maybe I went from stable channel to beta channel, or maybe I just want a fresh start. Whatever the reason, there is always the threat of something happening when I reset a Chromebook to factory default settings.

This something loses all the files I downloaded.

When you wipe a Chromebook with the power on, it deletes everything in the Downloads folder. The problem is, you have to remember that by the second it’s too late. For this reason, some time ago I started setting the default Downloads folder for all my ChromeOS devices to a non-standard location. By doing this it saved me a lot of headaches.

This change also has the added benefit of making any file I download from Google Drive available. So instead of the file being hosted in local storage, it’s now in my Google Cloud account. Win-win.

If you’re a serious Chromebook user, you’ve already figured out what I’m about to show you. If you’re the type of person who performs regular pressure cleaning on your ChromeOS devices, I highly recommend making this change.

Let me show you what I’m talking about.

SEE: Main cloud providers in 2020: AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, hybrids, SaaS players (TechRepublic)

A better default download location

By default, a Chromebook’s Downloads folder resides on the device’s internal storage. That’s why, when you reset a Chromebook, everything you downloaded is permanently deleted.

What I choose to do is change this default download location to a folder in my Google Drive account. Obviously, this comes with a little caveat: to access Google Drive, the Chromebook must have an internet connection. For the most part, that’s fine, but if you frequently find yourself beyond the realm of connectivity, I have a solution for that as well.

Let’s see how to make this work.

How to change your default download location

The first thing we need to do is create a folder to host your downloads on Google Drive. To do this, log into Google Drive and click New. From the drop-down list, click Folder. Name your folder something like CHROMEBOOK or DOWNLOADS. Click Create and the folder is ready to use.

Now that you’ve created a destination folder, let’s configure Chrome for use on your Chromebook. To do this, open the Chrome browser on your Chromebook, click the Menu button in the upper right corner, and click Settings from the drop-down list.

In the Settings window, click to expand the Advanced section in the left sidebar (Figure A).

Figure A

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The Advanced section of the Chrome Settings window.

Click on Advanced | Downloads, then click Edit (Number B).

Number B

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The Downloads section of the Chrome Configuration Tool.

In the folder selection window, expand My Drive, navigate to the newly created folder, select this folder and click Open (Figure C).

Figure C

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Select your new downloads location.

If you’re the type who frequently finds your Chromebook without a network connection, be sure to turn on Ask where to save each file before downloading. When doing this, Chrome will always ask you where to save the downloaded file. That way, if you don’t have a network connection (and can’t access the new downloads directory on Google Drive), you can still save that file to local storage. Of course, if you don’t have a network connection the chances are pretty slim that you won’t be downloading any files anyway, so this point is mostly moot.

Reconfiguring your Chromebook to save uploaded files to Google Drive is a great way to make sure you never lose those files. On top of that, it will save valuable internal storage space on your Chromebook. Yes, it does require a network connection, but if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have a network connection, you won’t download files in the first place. This should be taken for granted.

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Image: Jack Wallen


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Sam D. Gomez