rclone for Google Drive and Dropbox

rclone seamlessly connects to remote cloud storage on Mac, Linux, Windows and several other operating systems for cloud storage services including:

  • Google Drive / Shared Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Amazon S3
  • Microsoft OneDrive

The rclone interface is easy to use programatically (like rsync) without bothering to install weighty GUI clients that might not properly support your operating system. In general, remote storage solutions will be rate-limited. “Unlimited” storage such as for Google G Suite for Education, which has unlimited storage space has the limit in upload and download speed. rclone isn’t bothered by encrypted filesystems, unlike the official Dropbox client.


  1. Setup Rclone for your operating system:

    • Linux
      1. Download and extract–for PC, use amd64.

      2. add to ~/.bash_aliases

        alias rclone='~/rclone/rclone'
    • MacOS / Homebrew: brew install rclone
    • Windows: Download, extract, install
  2. add various remote file shares (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) by:

    rclone config


Note: rclone ≥ 1.37 is necessary for Google Shared Drives.

In these examples, remote is the particular drive name you chose during rclone config.

Configuration is stored in ~/.config/rclone/rclone.conf.

Finding remote directory contents

  • List remote directories

    rclone lsd remote:
  • list remote directories under path/to

    rclone lsd remote:path/to
  • list remote files under path/to

    rclone ls remote:path/to
  • count number of files in path/to

    rclone ls remote:path/to | wc -l

Copy/sync with remote

copy in rclone by default does not clobber existing remote files, if they haven’t been changed.

  • recursively copy local computer ~/path to remote

    rclone copy ~/path remote:path -v
  • copy only this directory contents ~/path to remote

    rclone copy --max-depth 0  ~/path remote:path -v

Using rclone sync requires caution, because sync DELETES files on remote that are not also on local PC!

  • sync local computer ~/path to the remote

    rclone sync ~/path remote:path -v