Google Drive

Paths are specified as drive:path

Drive paths may be as deep as required, eg drive:directory/subdirectory.

The initial setup for drive involves getting a token from Google drive which you need to do in your browser. rclone config walks you through it.

Here is an example of how to make a remote called remote. First run:

 rclone config

This will guide you through an interactive setup process:

No remotes found - make a new one
n) New remote
r) Rename remote
c) Copy remote
s) Set configuration password
q) Quit config
n/r/c/s/q> n
name> remote
Type of storage to configure.
Choose a number from below, or type in your own value
XX / Google Drive
   \ "drive"
Storage> drive
Google Application Client Id - leave blank normally.
Google Application Client Secret - leave blank normally.
Scope that rclone should use when requesting access from drive.
Choose a number from below, or type in your own value
 1 / Full access all files, excluding Application Data Folder.
   \ "drive"
 2 / Read-only access to file metadata and file contents.
   \ "drive.readonly"
   / Access to files created by rclone only.
 3 | These are visible in the drive website.
   | File authorization is revoked when the user deauthorizes the app.
   \ "drive.file"
   / Allows read and write access to the Application Data folder.
 4 | This is not visible in the drive website.
   \ "drive.appfolder"
   / Allows read-only access to file metadata but
 5 | does not allow any access to read or download file content.
   \ "drive.metadata.readonly"
scope> 1
ID of the root folder - leave blank normally.  Fill in to access "Computers" folders. (see docs).
Service Account Credentials JSON file path - needed only if you want use SA instead of interactive login.
Remote config
Use auto config?
 * Say Y if not sure
 * Say N if you are working on a remote or headless machine or Y didn't work
y) Yes
n) No
y/n> y
If your browser doesn't open automatically go to the following link:
Log in and authorize rclone for access
Waiting for code...
Got code
Configure this as a team drive?
y) Yes
n) No
y/n> n
client_id = 
client_secret = 
scope = drive
root_folder_id = 
service_account_file =
token = {"access_token":"XXX","token_type":"Bearer","refresh_token":"XXX","expiry":"2014-03-16T13:57:58.955387075Z"}
y) Yes this is OK
e) Edit this remote
d) Delete this remote
y/e/d> y

Note that rclone runs a webserver on your local machine to collect the token as returned from Google if you use auto config mode. This only runs from the moment it opens your browser to the moment you get back the verification code. This is on and this it may require you to unblock it temporarily if you are running a host firewall, or use manual mode.

You can then use it like this,

List directories in top level of your drive

rclone lsd remote:

List all the files in your drive

rclone ls remote:

To copy a local directory to a drive directory called backup

rclone copy /home/source remote:backup


Rclone allows you to select which scope you would like for rclone to use. This changes what type of token is granted to rclone. The scopes are defined here..

The scope are


This is the default scope and allows full access to all files, except for the Application Data Folder (see below).

Choose this one if you aren’t sure.


This allows read only access to all files. Files may be listed and downloaded but not uploaded, renamed or deleted.


With this scope rclone can read/view/modify only those files and folders it creates.

So if you uploaded files to drive via the web interface (or any other means) they will not be visible to rclone.

This can be useful if you are using rclone to backup data and you want to be sure confidential data on your drive is not visible to rclone.

Files created with this scope are visible in the web interface.


This gives rclone its own private area to store files. Rclone will not be able to see any other files on your drive and you won’t be able to see rclone’s files from the web interface either.


This allows read only access to file names only. It does not allow rclone to download or upload data, or rename or delete files or directories.

Root folder ID

You can set the root_folder_id for rclone. This is the directory (identified by its Folder ID) that rclone considers to be the root of your drive.

Normally you will leave this blank and rclone will determine the correct root to use itself.

However you can set this to restrict rclone to a specific folder hierarchy or to access data within the “Computers” tab on the drive web interface (where files from Google’s Backup and Sync desktop program go).

In order to do this you will have to find the Folder ID of the directory you wish rclone to display. This will be the last segment of the URL when you open the relevant folder in the drive web interface.

So if the folder you want rclone to use has a URL which looks like in the browser, then you use 1XyfxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxKHCh as the root_folder_id in the config.

NB folders under the “Computers” tab seem to be read only (drive gives a 500 error) when using rclone.

There doesn’t appear to be an API to discover the folder IDs of the “Computers” tab - please contact us if you know otherwise!

Note also that rclone can’t access any data under the “Backups” tab on the google drive web interface yet.

Service Account support

You can set up rclone with Google Drive in an unattended mode, i.e. not tied to a specific end-user Google account. This is useful when you want to synchronise files onto machines that don’t have actively logged-in users, for example build machines.

To use a Service Account instead of OAuth2 token flow, enter the path to your Service Account credentials at the service_account_file prompt during rclone config and rclone won’t use the browser based authentication flow. If you’d rather stuff the contents of the credentials file into the rclone config file, you can set service_account_credentials with the actual contents of the file instead, or set the equivalent environment variable.

Use case - Google Apps/G-suite account and individual Drive

Let’s say that you are the administrator of a Google Apps (old) or G-suite account. The goal is to store data on an individual’s Drive account, who IS a member of the domain. We’ll call the domain, and the user

There’s a few steps we need to go through to accomplish this:

1. Create a service account for
  • To create a service account and obtain its credentials, go to the Google Developer Console.
  • You must have a project - create one if you don’t.
  • Then go to “IAM & admin” -> “Service Accounts”.
  • Use the “Create Credentials” button. Fill in “Service account name” with something that identifies your client. “Role” can be empty.
  • Tick “Furnish a new private key” - select “Key type JSON”.
  • Tick “Enable G Suite Domain-wide Delegation”. This option makes “impersonation” possible, as documented here: Delegating domain-wide authority to the service account
  • These credentials are what rclone will use for authentication. If you ever need to remove access, press the “Delete service account key” button.
2. Allowing API access to Google Drive
  • Go to’s admin console
  • Go into “Security” (or use the search bar)
  • Select “Show more” and then “Advanced settings”
  • Select “Manage API client access” in the “Authentication” section
  • In the “Client Name” field enter the service account’s “Client ID” - this can be found in the Developer Console under “IAM & Admin” -> “Service Accounts”, then “View Client ID” for the newly created service account. It is a ~21 character numerical string.
  • In the next field, “One or More API Scopes”, enter to grant access to Google Drive specifically.
3. Configure rclone, assuming a new install
rclone config

n/s/q> n         # New
name>gdrive      # Gdrive is an example name
Storage>         # Select the number shown for Google Drive
client_id>       # Can be left blank
client_secret>   # Can be left blank
scope>           # Select your scope, 1 for example
root_folder_id>  # Can be left blank
service_account_file> /home/foo/myJSONfile.json # This is where the JSON file goes!
y/n>             # Auto config, y

4. Verify that it’s working
  • rclone -v --drive-impersonate lsf gdrive:backup
  • The arguments do:
    • -v - verbose logging
    • --drive-impersonate - this is what does the magic, pretending to be user foo.
    • lsf - list files in a parsing friendly way
    • gdrive:backup - use the remote called gdrive, work in the folder named backup.

Team drives

If you want to configure the remote to point to a Google Team Drive then answer y to the question Configure this as a team drive?.

This will fetch the list of Team Drives from google and allow you to configure which one you want to use. You can also type in a team drive ID if you prefer.

For example:

Configure this as a team drive?
y) Yes
n) No
y/n> y
Fetching team drive list...
Choose a number from below, or type in your own value
 1 / Rclone Test
   \ "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"
 2 / Rclone Test 2
   \ "yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy"
 3 / Rclone Test 3
   \ "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"
Enter a Team Drive ID> 1
client_id =
client_secret =
token = {"AccessToken":"xxxx.x.xxxxx_xxxxxxxxxxx_xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx","RefreshToken":"1/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx_xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx","Expiry":"2014-03-16T13:57:58.955387075Z","Extra":null}
team_drive = xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
y) Yes this is OK
e) Edit this remote
d) Delete this remote
y/e/d> y


This remote supports --fast-list which allows you to use fewer transactions in exchange for more memory. See the rclone docs for more details.

It does this by combining multiple list calls into a single API request.

This works by combining many '%s' in parents filters into one expression. To list the contents of directories a, b and c, the following requests will be send by the regular List function:

trashed=false and 'a' in parents
trashed=false and 'b' in parents
trashed=false and 'c' in parents

These can now be combined into a single request:

trashed=false and ('a' in parents or 'b' in parents or 'c' in parents)

The implementation of ListR will put up to 50 parents filters into one request. It will use the --checkers value to specify the number of requests to run in parallel.

In tests, these batch requests were up to 20x faster than the regular method. Running the following command against different sized folders gives:

rclone lsjson -vv -R --checkers=6 gdrive:folder

small folder (220 directories, 700 files):

  • without --fast-list: 38s
  • with --fast-list: 10s

large folder (10600 directories, 39000 files):

  • without --fast-list: 22:05 min
  • with --fast-list: 58s

Modified time

Google drive stores modification times accurate to 1 ms.


Google drive stores revisions of files. When you upload a change to an existing file to google drive using rclone it will create a new revision of that file.

Revisions follow the standard google policy which at time of writing was

  • They are deleted after 30 days or 100 revisions (whatever comes first).
  • They do not count towards a user storage quota.

Deleting files

By default rclone will send all files to the trash when deleting files. If deleting them permanently is required then use the --drive-use-trash=false flag, or set the equivalent environment variable.

Emptying trash

If you wish to empty your trash you can use the rclone cleanup remote: command which will permanently delete all your trashed files. This command does not take any path arguments.

Note that Google Drive takes some time (minutes to days) to empty the trash even though the command returns within a few seconds. No output is echoed, so there will be no confirmation even using -v or -vv.

Quota information

To view your current quota you can use the rclone about remote: command which will display your usage limit (quota), the usage in Google Drive, the size of all files in the Trash and the space used by other Google services such as Gmail. This command does not take any path arguments.

Import/Export of google documents

Google documents can be exported from and uploaded to Google Drive.

When rclone downloads a Google doc it chooses a format to download depending upon the --drive-export-formats setting. By default the export formats are docx,xlsx,pptx,svg which are a sensible default for an editable document.

When choosing a format, rclone runs down the list provided in order and chooses the first file format the doc can be exported as from the list. If the file can’t be exported to a format on the formats list, then rclone will choose a format from the default list.

If you prefer an archive copy then you might use --drive-export-formats pdf, or if you prefer openoffice/libreoffice formats you might use --drive-export-formats ods,odt,odp.

Note that rclone adds the extension to the google doc, so if it is called My Spreadsheet on google docs, it will be exported as My Spreadsheet.xlsx or My Spreadsheet.pdf etc.

When importing files into Google Drive, rclone will convert all files with an extension in --drive-import-formats to their associated document type. rclone will not convert any files by default, since the conversion is lossy process.

The conversion must result in a file with the same extension when the --drive-export-formats rules are applied to the uploaded document.

Here are some examples for allowed and prohibited conversions.

export-formats import-formats Upload Ext Document Ext Allowed
odt odt odt odt Yes
odt docx,odt odt odt Yes
docx docx docx Yes
odt odt docx No
odt,docx docx,odt docx odt No
docx,odt docx,odt docx docx Yes
docx,odt docx,odt odt docx No

This limitation can be disabled by specifying --drive-allow-import-name-change. When using this flag, rclone can convert multiple files types resulting in the same document type at once, eg with --drive-import-formats docx,odt,txt, all files having these extension would result in a document represented as a docx file. This brings the additional risk of overwriting a document, if multiple files have the same stem. Many rclone operations will not handle this name change in any way. They assume an equal name when copying files and might copy the file again or delete them when the name changes.

Here are the possible export extensions with their corresponding mime types. Most of these can also be used for importing, but there more that are not listed here. Some of these additional ones might only be available when the operating system provides the correct MIME type entries.

This list can be changed by Google Drive at any time and might not represent the currently available conversions.

Extension Mime Type Description
csv text/csv Standard CSV format for Spreadsheets
docx application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document Microsoft Office Document
epub application/epub+zip E-book format
html text/html An HTML Document
jpg image/jpeg A JPEG Image File
json application/ JSON Text Format
odp application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.presentation Openoffice Presentation
ods application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.spreadsheet Openoffice Spreadsheet
ods application/x-vnd.oasis.opendocument.spreadsheet Openoffice Spreadsheet
odt application/vnd.oasis.opendocument.text Openoffice Document
pdf application/pdf Adobe PDF Format
png image/png PNG Image Format
pptx application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.presentationml.presentation Microsoft Office Powerpoint
rtf application/rtf Rich Text Format
svg image/svg+xml Scalable Vector Graphics Format
tsv text/tab-separated-values Standard TSV format for spreadsheets
txt text/plain Plain Text
xlsx application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheet Microsoft Office Spreadsheet
zip application/zip A ZIP file of HTML, Images CSS

Google documents can also be exported as link files. These files will open a browser window for the Google Docs website of that document when opened. The link file extension has to be specified as a --drive-export-formats parameter. They will match all available Google Documents.

Extension Description OS Support
desktop specified desktop entry Linux
link.html An HTML Document with a redirect All
url INI style link file macOS, Windows
webloc macOS specific XML format macOS

Standard Options

Here are the standard options specific to drive (Google Drive).


Google Application Client Id Setting your own is recommended. See for how to create your own. If you leave this blank, it will use an internal key which is low performance.

  • Config: client_id
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”


Google Application Client Secret Setting your own is recommended.

  • Config: client_secret
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”


Scope that rclone should use when requesting access from drive.

  • Config: scope
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”
  • Examples:
    • “drive”
      • Full access all files, excluding Application Data Folder.
    • “drive.readonly”
      • Read-only access to file metadata and file contents.
    • “drive.file”
      • Access to files created by rclone only.
      • These are visible in the drive website.
      • File authorization is revoked when the user deauthorizes the app.
    • “drive.appfolder”
      • Allows read and write access to the Application Data folder.
      • This is not visible in the drive website.
    • “drive.metadata.readonly”
      • Allows read-only access to file metadata but
      • does not allow any access to read or download file content.


ID of the root folder Leave blank normally. Fill in to access “Computers” folders. (see docs).

  • Config: root_folder_id
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”


Service Account Credentials JSON file path Leave blank normally. Needed only if you want use SA instead of interactive login.

  • Config: service_account_file
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”

Advanced Options

Here are the advanced options specific to drive (Google Drive).


Service Account Credentials JSON blob Leave blank normally. Needed only if you want use SA instead of interactive login.

  • Config: service_account_credentials
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”


ID of the Team Drive

  • Config: team_drive
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”


Only consider files owned by the authenticated user.

  • Config: auth_owner_only
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Send files to the trash instead of deleting permanently. Defaults to true, namely sending files to the trash. Use --drive-use-trash=false to delete files permanently instead.

  • Config: use_trash
  • Type: bool
  • Default: true


Skip google documents in all listings. If given, gdocs practically become invisible to rclone.

  • Config: skip_gdocs
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Skip MD5 checksum on Google photos and videos only.

Use this if you get checksum errors when transferring Google photos or videos.

Setting this flag will cause Google photos and videos to return a blank MD5 checksum.

Google photos are identifed by being in the “photos” space.

Corrupted checksums are caused by Google modifying the image/video but not updating the checksum.

  • Config: skip_checksum_gphotos
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Only show files that are shared with me.

Instructs rclone to operate on your “Shared with me” folder (where Google Drive lets you access the files and folders others have shared with you).

This works both with the “list” (lsd, lsl, etc) and the “copy” commands (copy, sync, etc), and with all other commands too.

  • Config: shared_with_me
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Only show files that are in the trash. This will show trashed files in their original directory structure.

  • Config: trashed_only
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Deprecated: see export_formats

  • Config: formats
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”


Comma separated list of preferred formats for downloading Google docs.

  • Config: export_formats
  • Type: string
  • Default: “docx,xlsx,pptx,svg”


Comma separated list of preferred formats for uploading Google docs.

  • Config: import_formats
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”


Allow the filetype to change when uploading Google docs (e.g. file.doc to file.docx). This will confuse sync and reupload every time.

  • Config: allow_import_name_change
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Use file created date instead of modified date.,

Useful when downloading data and you want the creation date used in place of the last modified date.

WARNING: This flag may have some unexpected consequences.

When uploading to your drive all files will be overwritten unless they haven’t been modified since their creation. And the inverse will occur while downloading. This side effect can be avoided by using the “--checksum” flag.

This feature was implemented to retain photos capture date as recorded by google photos. You will first need to check the “Create a Google Photos folder” option in your google drive settings. You can then copy or move the photos locally and use the date the image was taken (created) set as the modification date.

  • Config: use_created_date
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Size of listing chunk 100-1000. 0 to disable.

  • Config: list_chunk
  • Type: int
  • Default: 1000


Impersonate this user when using a service account.

  • Config: impersonate
  • Type: string
  • Default: “”


Use alternate export URLs for google documents export.,

If this option is set this instructs rclone to use an alternate set of export URLs for drive documents. Users have reported that the official export URLs can’t export large documents, whereas these unofficial ones can.

See rclone issue #2243 for background, this google drive issue and this helpful post.

  • Config: alternate_export
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Cutoff for switching to chunked upload

  • Config: upload_cutoff
  • Type: SizeSuffix
  • Default: 8M


Upload chunk size. Must a power of 2 >= 256k.

Making this larger will improve performance, but note that each chunk is buffered in memory one per transfer.

Reducing this will reduce memory usage but decrease performance.

  • Config: chunk_size
  • Type: SizeSuffix
  • Default: 8M


Set to allow files which return cannotDownloadAbusiveFile to be downloaded.

If downloading a file returns the error “This file has been identified as malware or spam and cannot be downloaded” with the error code “cannotDownloadAbusiveFile” then supply this flag to rclone to indicate you acknowledge the risks of downloading the file and rclone will download it anyway.

  • Config: acknowledge_abuse
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Keep new head revision of each file forever.

  • Config: keep_revision_forever
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Show storage quota usage for file size.

The storage used by a file is the size of the current version plus any older versions that have been set to keep forever.

  • Config: size_as_quota
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


If Object’s are greater, use drive v2 API to download.

  • Config: v2_download_min_size
  • Type: SizeSuffix
  • Default: off


Minimum time to sleep between API calls.

  • Config: pacer_min_sleep
  • Type: Duration
  • Default: 100ms


Number of API calls to allow without sleeping.

  • Config: pacer_burst
  • Type: int
  • Default: 100


Allow server side operations (eg copy) to work across different drive configs.

This can be useful if you wish to do a server side copy between two different Google drives. Note that this isn’t enabled by default because it isn’t easy to tell if it will work beween any two configurations.

  • Config: server_side_across_configs
  • Type: bool
  • Default: false


Drive has quite a lot of rate limiting. This causes rclone to be limited to transferring about 2 files per second only. Individual files may be transferred much faster at 100s of MBytes/s but lots of small files can take a long time.

Server side copies are also subject to a separate rate limit. If you see User rate limit exceeded errors, wait at least 24 hours and retry. You can disable server side copies with --disable copy to download and upload the files if you prefer.

Limitations of Google Docs

Google docs will appear as size -1 in rclone ls and as size 0 in anything which uses the VFS layer, eg rclone mount, rclone serve.

This is because rclone can’t find out the size of the Google docs without downloading them.

Google docs will transfer correctly with rclone sync, rclone copy etc as rclone knows to ignore the size when doing the transfer.

However an unfortunate consequence of this is that you can’t download Google docs using rclone mount - you will get a 0 sized file. If you try again the doc may gain its correct size and be downloadable.

Duplicated files

Sometimes, for no reason I’ve been able to track down, drive will duplicate a file that rclone uploads. Drive unlike all the other remotes can have duplicated files.

Duplicated files cause problems with the syncing and you will see messages in the log about duplicates.

Use rclone dedupe to fix duplicated files.

Note that this isn’t just a problem with rclone, even Google Photos on Android duplicates files on drive sometimes.

Rclone appears to be re-copying files it shouldn’t

The most likely cause of this is the duplicated file issue above - run rclone dedupe and check your logs for duplicate object or directory messages.

This can also be caused by a delay/caching on google drive’s end when comparing directory listings. Specifically with team drives used in combination with --fast-list. Files that were uploaded recently may not appear on the directory list sent to rclone when using --fast-list.

Waiting a moderate period of time between attempts (estimated to be approximately 1 hour) and/or not using --fast-list both seem to be effective in preventing the problem.

Making your own client_id

When you use rclone with Google drive in its default configuration you are using rclone’s client_id. This is shared between all the rclone users. There is a global rate limit on the number of queries per second that each client_id can do set by Google. rclone already has a high quota and I will continue to make sure it is high enough by contacting Google.

It is strongly recommended to use your own client ID as the default rclone ID is heavily used. If you have multiple services running, it is recommended to use an API key for each service. The default Google quota is 10 transactions per second so it is recommended to stay under that number as if you use more than that, it will cause rclone to rate limit and make things slower.

Here is how to create your own Google Drive client ID for rclone:

  1. Log into the Google API Console with your Google account. It doesn’t matter what Google account you use. (It need not be the same account as the Google Drive you want to access)

  2. Select a project or create a new project.

  3. Under “ENABLE APIS AND SERVICES” search for “Drive”, and enable the “Google Drive API”.

  4. Click “Credentials” in the left-side panel (not “Create credentials”, which opens the wizard), then “Create credentials”, then “OAuth client ID”. It will prompt you to set the OAuth consent screen product name, if you haven’t set one already.

  5. Choose an application type of “other”, and click “Create”. (the default name is fine)

  6. It will show you a client ID and client secret. Use these values in rclone config to add a new remote or edit an existing remote.

(Thanks to @balazer on github for these instructions.)