Do you use Google Drive for your file storage but want a way to provide a link that directly downloads a file? This can be useful when you offer free or paid resources on your site. However, Google Drive does not automatically allow automatic downloads from a link!

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I cannot tell you how many people ask why Google Drive instant downloads are not built in (who knows?), so I thought I’d share the quick and easy way to solve this issue.

When you are creating printables, products, or any other file you share with your audience, you NEVER want to upload it to your media library if at all possible in WordPress.

The more files you have on your site the slower your site will become (bad for SEO and for your readers!).

So, you can use file storage like Dropbox or Google Drive to house your files off your site and link directly to them. While Dropbox allows you to share your files for direct download, you need to do a little extra with Google Drive.

When you click to share your file and grab the share URL it will look something like this (there will be a unique “FILE_ID” for each of the files):

When you have this URL, just grab the “FILE_ID” and paste it at the end of this URL (remove the text “FILE_ID” and paste the numbers/letters from the original url after the =):

Now, in order to allow people to download the file you will need to change the permissions. Once you click to share the file, look at the bottom right of the pop up and click on “Advanced”.

Then, click on “Change…” to open permissions.

Google Drive permission selection for file sharing

You’ll need to select “On – Anyone with the link” then in the dropdown below the selection select “Can edit”.

If you skip this step your links will bring a 404 error page up!

Changing settings on Google Drive to allow direct download

That’s it!

Sure, it’s kind of a pain. But it beats having to manually invite anyone who purchases or wants to download any of your products or freebies!

Keep in mind that Google Drive also allows you to do versions of the same document! Right click on the document and go down to “Manage Versions” and upload a new version. This will NOT change the URL, merely update the file to the newest version.

Want another tip? Check out how you can use Pretty Links to manage your download links so that if your link changes you can change it in one place and have all your links across your site or within your products or printables! The plugin is free!

How to create Google Drive instant download links (Pinterest image)

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