Windows Search Not Finding Google Drive Files and Folders

Google Drive client software allows you to automatically back up files from your computer, camera, or SD cards to the cloud. Google Drive sync client, as useful as it may be, there is a small glitch in the setup process. After installing and using Google Drive sync, you may have noticed that Windows search returns no results from the Google Drive folder.

Important: If the Google Drive Sync client is set to Streaming mode (“Google Drive Streaming” virtual folder or drive-letter), then there is no way to index the files in Windows Search. It’s because files in the virtual folder/drive point to the cloud storage location or the local cache folder (for locally downloaded items). Each file in the cache folder has a different/cryptic name than what’s displayed in the virtual folder. This is similar how the Recycle Bin stores your deleted files. The virtual folder or drive cannot be added to the Indexing Options dialog.

google drive mirror option vs streaming option

(Information in this article applies only if you’ve set the Google Drive client to “Mirror files.”)

The Google Drive folder is located here:

C:\Users\{username}\Google Drive
(or)
C:\Users\{username}\My Drive

For instance, I have a file named Get Rich Fast.rtf file in the Google Drive sync folder.

google drive folder contents

However, when I use Windows search to find the exact file name, it returns “No items match your search”.

google drive search results not found



Cause

This happens due to missing permission entries for the Google Drive folder. The SYSTEM account needs to have Read or Full Control permissions for this folder to index its contents successfully. By default, the Google Drive folder permissions are set such that access permissions are given to the current user account only, and inheritance is disabled for the folder. As a result, the indexer is unable to read the folder contents.

Resolution

Fix the Google Drive folder permissions

To enable indexing of your Google Drive folder, fix the Permission for Google Drive folder using these steps:

[2022 Update:] In the latest version of the Google Drive Backup client, the permissions assigned to the “My Drive” (previously “Google Drive”) folder are appropriate. It appears that Google has fixed this issue. In case the permissions are incorrect in your case, follow these steps to resolve the issue:

  1. Open the Google Drive folder located at %userprofile%\Google Drive
  2. Right-click an empty area on the folder, and click Properties.
  3. Click the Security tab.
    google drive folder permissions
  4. Click Advanced.
  5. Click the Enable inheritance button, and click Apply.
    google drive folder enable inheritanceYou’ll now see additional Permission entries which are inherited from the parent, which is the %userprofile% folder.google drive folder inherited permissions
  6. Click OK, OK to close the dialog. Windows Search should now be able to index the folder contents successfully.
  7. After a while, perform a search. Windows Search should find the files from the Google Drive folder.google drive search results indexed

If the Permissions are fine but the Google Drive folder items are not indexed, you may want to rebuild and reset the Search index completely. See the article How to Reset & Rebuild Windows Search Index Completely for detailed information.

See also: Google Drive Backup app doesn’t pin its special folder to the Explorer navigation pane. To do that manually, use the registry edit in the article Google Drive – Pin to  Explorer Navigation Pane.


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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

3 thoughts on “Windows Search Not Finding Google Drive Files and Folders”

  1. I have a security tab (Windows 11 Pro), but the process ends within 3 seconds – I have nearly 20K files in one GDrive folder alone.

    Reply

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