Tools & Tips, Troubleshooting

A Workaround for the Google Drive Download Error

Store your docs in the Cloud, they say. And we do. And some of us like it so we have multiple accounts. So when we’re using Google Drive to store docs online and then cannot download them, it’s a real pain! The particular error I’m referring to is this one:

Error screen that says: "Access to doc-14-4c.docs.googleusercontent.com was denied. You don't have authorization to view this page. HTTP ERROR 403."
An unhelpful 403 Error when attempting to download files from Google Drive

It’s caused by a conflict between the account containing the files and your default account. For example, your main account is called mainaccount@gmail.com and your files are stored in one of the Drive folders for workaccount@gmail.com. Google doesn’t like you downloading to another account, which is what it thinks is happening.

It’s a problem that’s been around for a while (I found bug reports going back to 2018) but not one Google seem to have fixed. So what to do? Unfortunately, banging your head against the wall will just give you a headache, so lucky for you I’ve already tried that and found a workaround.

Download your Google Drive Files

Time needed: 5 minutes.

The workaround to this annoying 403 error is:

  1. Share the folder or file with your default Google account.

    Right-click on the file or folder, select Share, then enter the email address for your main account.

  2. Login to Google Drive on your default account.

    Click on the list of accounts on the upper-right side of screen. This shows your list.
    Click on the default account to change to.

  3. From the default account, find the shared file or folder.

    Select Shared with Me from the list on the left of the screen.

  4. Download the files.

    Right click on the file or folder and select Download.

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