Can’t download a file from Google Drive? Here’s how to fix that

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Have you ever downloaded a file from Google Drive only to be blocked? From time to time I change my browser’s privacy settings only to find that it can no longer download the files I need. It’s frustrating because I know it’s going to happen when I make the change; I just forget how sensitive Google Drive is to such issues.

You’d think I’d learned my lesson by now. And yet it happened to me again today. Out of nowhere I go to download a file from Drive (I forgot I made a change to my browser’s privacy setting yesterday) and lo and behold Drive refuses to download the file (a file I created anyway) .

Also: How to Find Files in Google Drive Faster

What is the problem? Cookies.

Argh! It’s always cookies.

How to fix Google Drive download problem

How do you fix the problem? It’s easy. I will demonstrate it on a Chromium based browser based on Chrome as Chrome is the most widely used browser in the world.

Also: How to Automatically Convert Google Drive Uploads to Docs Format

If you’re using a non-Chrome based browser, the basic idea applies and you shouldn’t have any trouble translating the fix to your browser of choice.


To solve this problem, all you need is a valid Google account and a Chrome-based browser (e.g. Sidekick, Opera, Vivaldi and Edge). That’s it. Let’s fix this problem.

First, open the browser of your choice. Of course, if you’re reading this, your browser is already open – so you’re already one step ahead of the game.

Click the three-dot menu button in the top-right corner and choose Settings from the menu that appears.

Accessing settings in a Chromium-based browser.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you suddenly can’t download files from Google Drive, something in your privacy and security settings has probably changed. For me, I have configured my browser to block third-party cookies.

Also: How to organize your Google Drive with these 5 tips

If you have done the same, you can (and should) still block these third-party cookies. However, you need to add an exception for Google Drive.

You should block third-party cookies in your browser, even if it causes such problems.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Under Custom Behaviors, click Add. In the resulting pop-up window, enter in the Website field, check the box Include third-party cookies on this website and click Add. Once you’ve taken care of that, close the Settings tab.

Adding an exception to the policy to block third-party cookies.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you find other websites not behaving as expected (after setting your browser to block third-party cookies), add an exception for that address and it should work normally again.

Also: How to disconnect apps from Google Drive

Although this can be tedious, it is better to block third-party cookies and make exceptions where necessary to better protect your privacy.

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