Create and manage files

This guide explains how to create and manage files in Google Drive.

Create file

To create a file in Drive that contains no metadata or content, use the files.create method with no parameters. The file is given a kind of drive.file, an id, a name of "Untitled", and a mimeType of application/octet-stream. The uploadType is marked as required but defaults to media, so you don't actually have to supply it.

For more information about Drive file limits, see File and folder limits.

Create metadata-only files

Metadata-only files contain no content. Metadata is data (such as name, mimeType, and createdTime) that describes the file. Fields like name are user-agnostic and appear the same for each user, whereas fields such as viewedByMeTime contain user-specific values.

One example of a metadata-only file is a folder with the MIME type application/ For more information, see Create and populate folders. Another example is a shortcut that points to another file on Drive with the MIME type application/ For more information, see Create a shortcut to a Drive file.

Manage thumbnail images

Thumbnails help users identify Drive files. Drive can automatically generate thumbnails for common file types or you can provide a thumbnail image generated by your app. For more information, see Upload thumbnails.

Copy an existing file

To copy a file, and apply any requested updates, use the files.copy method. To find the fileId to copy, use the files.list method.

Note that you need to use an appropriate Drive API scope to authorize the call. For more information on Drive scopes, see Choose Google Drive API scopes.

Limits and considerations

As you prepare to copy files, take note of these limits and considerations:

  • Permissions:

    • The copyRequiresWriterPermission file restriction determines who can copy the file. For more information, see Prevent users from downloading, printing, or copying your file.
    • The capabilities/canCopy field of a files resource determines whether the user can copy a file. For more information, see Capabilities.
    • The user that created the copy owns the copied file. No other sharing settings from the source file are replicated. If the copy is created in a shared folder, it inherits the permissions of that folder.
    • A copied file's ownership might change and the copy might not inherit the original file's sharing settings. These settings might need to be reset.
  • File management:

    • Some files, like third-party shortcuts, can never be copied.
    • You can only copy a file into one parent folder. Specifying multiple parents isn't supported. If the parents field isn't specified, the file inherits any discoverable parents from the source file.
    • Even though a folder is a type of file, you can't copy a folder. Instead, create a destination folder and set the parents field of the existing files to the destination folder. You can then delete the original source folder.
    • Unless a new filename is specified, the files.copy method produces a file with the same name as the original.
    • Excessive use of files.copy can lead to exceeding your Drive API quota limits. For more information, see Usage limits.

Here are a few next steps you might try: