Syncing your desktop folder with other computers.

This may well be my most exciting OS X discovery of the year. Let me know if you find it helpful.  You can use ‘Google Backup and Sync’ to sync your OS X desktop folder to the cloud, and then, with a little trick, access that desktop folder from your ‘Google Drive’ other computers, so that you can put files onto the desktop of you computer remotely. 

Target computer: the computer that you want to put items into the desktop of.
Use ‘Backup and Sync’ to sync the desktop folder of your target computer.

Home computer: the computer you are at now.
Use ‘Google Drive’ to access your Target desktop folder remotely.

Here’s how:

  1. On your target computer install google backup and sync.
    (You may need to go to System Prefs and enable non-app store apps to do this.)
  2. A new Google backup icon will appear in your top Menu bar. Use this to log into your Google Account
  3. Go to the dropdown menu from this icon called ‘preferences’, and select the option to sync your Desktop folder, as below:Your desktop will now sync with your google drive. (t will not yet be accessible to other computers.)
  4. Now here’s the trick…. Log into your Google Drive in your web browser (Safari or Chrome).
  5. In the left sidebar,  find your computer, then find the desktop folder, and then drag the ‘desktop’ folder up into your ‘Google Drive’ folder. This creates an alias of your desktop folder in your Google drive. It doesn’t seem to copy it. It creates a link to it.

    drag to my drive
    Drag your ‘desktop’ folder into ‘My Drive’ folder to share it with other computers.

Now if you sync your Google Drive to other computers you can access and change your desktop folder on your target computer!

This is an undocumented feature that I stumbled across. It’s the only way I know of remotely changing files on a Mac desktop. It mostly works…

  • If you put a folder into your desktop folder on the target computer, all the files will be synced properly. So you can drag files in and out of the folder and it will sync.
  • If you put a file just on the desktop it may or may not sync. It’s not reliable.

I suggest making a folder in your desktop computer on the target computer and using that to sync files.

I use this to put keynote presentations on our church laptop for each Sunday. All I need to do is edit the keynote file on my home computer in my Google Drive and they are automatically updated to the desktop folder of the church computer.


7 responses to “Syncing your desktop folder with other computers.”

  1. Irf

    This has helped.. for desktop users what I found is that, you got to keep ctrl key pressed and then drag and drop the folder (as mentioned in the post), to make kinda copy, otherwise it simply moves the folder..
    Thanks for helping out.

    1. Benedikt

      One more thing: same here. I had to use the option key pressed down on Chrome to do this under Mojave.

  2. Benedikt

    Thanks a lot! Exactly what I was looking for. Quite weird that they don’t give us the option to sync other computer’s folders in the first place.

  3. Rob

    You can also change files on your target computer’s Desktop (or Documents folder) for free by using iCloud Drive (if you have a Mac)…

    1. Rob

      Also, it won’t let me do it (even with ctrl pressed); it says the server encountered an error and reverses the move I made almost immediately…
      I think perhaps it’s because I have iCloud Drive also setup on the same Mac that Google Drive is synced to and maybe it somehow conflicts…

  4. Ryan

    It doesn’t seem to work anymore. I guess Google blocks it.

    1. You are correct this does not work anymore.
      I’m not sure why but get Google seems to have stopped this functionality.

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