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
 1 / Amazon Drive
   \ "amazon cloud drive"
 2 / Amazon S3 (also Dreamhost, Ceph, Minio)
   \ "s3"
 3 / Backblaze B2
   \ "b2"
 4 / Dropbox
   \ "dropbox"
 5 / Encrypt/Decrypt a remote
   \ "crypt"
 6 / FTP Connection
   \ "ftp"
 7 / Google Cloud Storage (this is not Google Drive)
   \ "google cloud storage"
 8 / Google Drive
   \ "drive"
 9 / Hubic
   \ "hubic"
10 / Local Disk
   \ "local"
11 / Microsoft OneDrive
   \ "onedrive"
12 / Openstack Swift (Rackspace Cloud Files, Memset Memstore, OVH)
   \ "swift"
13 / SSH/SFTP Connection
   \ "sftp"
14 / Yandex Disk
   \ "yandex"
Storage> 8
Google Application Client Id - leave blank normally.
Google Application Client Secret - leave blank normally.
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 =
token = {"AccessToken":"xxxx.x.xxxxx_xxxxxxxxxxx_xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx","RefreshToken":"1/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx_xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx","Expiry":"2014-03-16T13:57:58.955387075Z","Extra":null}
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

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 create a service account and obtain its credentials, go to the Google Developer Console and use the “Create Credentials” button. After creating an account, a JSON file containing the Service Account’s credentials will be downloaded onto your machine. These credentials are what rclone will use for authentication.

To use a Service Account instead of OAuth2 token flow, enter the path to your Service Account credentials at the service_account_file prompt and rclone won’t use the browser based authentication flow.

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

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.

Specific options

Here are the command line options specific to this cloud storage system.


Only consider files owned by the authenticated user.


Upload chunk size. Must a power of 2 >= 256k. Default value is 8 MB.

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.


Google documents can only be exported from Google drive. When rclone downloads a Google doc it chooses a format to download depending upon this setting.

By default the 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-formats pdf, or if you prefer openoffice/libreoffice formats you might use --drive-formats ods,odt,odp.

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

Here are the possible extensions with their corresponding mime types.

Extension Mime Type Description
csv text/csv Standard CSV format for Spreadsheets
doc application/msword Micosoft Office Document
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
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
xls application/ Microsoft Office Spreadsheet
xlsx application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheet Microsoft Office Spreadsheet
zip application/zip A ZIP file of HTML, Images CSS

--drive-list-chunk int

Size of listing chunk 100-1000. 0 to disable. (default 1000)


Only show files that are shared with me


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


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


File size cutoff for switching to chunked upload. Default is 8 MB.


Controls whether files are sent to the trash or deleted permanently. Defaults to true, namely sending files to the trash. Use --drive-use-trash=false to delete files permanently instead.


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.

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

There are two possible reasons for rclone to recopy files which haven’t changed to Google Drive.

The first is the duplicated file issue above - run rclone dedupe and check your logs for duplicate object or directory messages.

The second is that sometimes Google reports different sizes for the Google Docs exports which will cause rclone to re-download Google Docs for no apparent reason. --ignore-size is a not very satisfactory work-around for this if it is causing you a lot of problems.

Google docs downloads sometimes fail with “Failed to copy: read X bytes expecting Y”

This is the same problem as above. Google reports the google doc is one size, but rclone downloads a different size. Work-around with the --ignore-size flag or wait for rclone to retry the download which it will.

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.

However you might find you get better performance making your own client_id if you are a heavy user. Or you may not depending on exactly how Google have been raising rclone’s rate limit.

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 then “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.)

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