Introduction to Google Drive API

The Google Drive API allows you to create apps that leverage Google Drive cloud storage. You can develop applications that integrate with Google Drive, and create robust functionality in your application using Google Drive API.

This diagram shows the relationship between your Google Drive app, Google Drive, and Google Drive API:

Google Drive Intro
Figure 1. Google Drive API Relationship Diagram

These terms define the key components shown in Figure 1:

Google Drive
Google's cloud file storage service that provides users with a personal storage space, called My Drive, and the option to access collaborative shared folders, called shared drives.
Google Drive API
The REST API that allows you to leverage Google Drive storage from within your app.
Google Drive app
An app that leverages Google Drive as its storage solution.
Google Drive UI
Google's user interface that manages files stored on Google Drive. If your app is an editor-type app, such as a spreadsheet or word processor app, you can integrate with the Drive UI to create and open files within your app.
My Drive
A Google Drive storage location that a specific user owns. Files stored on My Drive can be shared with other users, but ownership of the content remains specific to an individual user.
OAuth 2.0
The authorization protocol that Google Drive API requires to authenticate your app users. If your application uses Sign In With Google, it handles the OAuth 2.0 flow and application access tokens.
Shared drive
A Google Drive storage location that owns files that multiple users share to collaborate. Any user with access to a shared drive has access to all files it contains. Users can also be granted access to individual files inside the shared drive.

What can you do with Google Drive API?

You can use Google Drive API to:

  • Download files from Google Drive and Upload files to Google Drive.
  • Search for files and folders stored in Google Drive. Create complex search queries that return any of the file metadata fields in the Files resource.
  • Let users share files, folders and drives to collaborate on content.
  • Combine with the Google Picker API to search all files in Google Drive, then return the file name, URL, last modified date, and user.
  • Create third-party shortcuts that are external links to data stored outside of Drive, in a different data store or cloud storage system.
  • Create a dedicated Drive folder to store your application’s data so that the app cannot access all the user's content stored in Google Drive. See Store application-specific data.
  • Integrate with the Google Drive UI, which is Google's standard web UI you can use to interact with Drive files. To learn all that you can do with a Drive app that you integrate with the Google Drive UI, see Drive UI integration overview

Next steps

To get started with Drive API:

  • To learn about developing with Google Workspace APIs, including handling authentication and authorization, refer to Develop on Google Workspace.

  • To learn how to configure and run a simple Drive API app, read the Quickstarts overview.