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Google today released a new Chrome extension for Google Drive aimed at making it easier to open files right from the correct desktop application. You can download the new extension now directly from the Chrome Web Store.

With a name like Application Launcher for Drive, it might not be clear what exactly this extension does. It’s rather simple though: the tool lets you open Google Drive files directly from your browser in compatible applications installed on your computer. No need to download them first to your desktop or documents folder, navigate there, or fire up the right software.


Before you can start, you’ll also need to grab the latest Google Drive app for OS X or Windows (version 1.18) and sync your files. Then, visit Google Drive in Chrome, right-click on a file, and select “Open with” to see a list of applications on your computer that can open it.


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Examples Google gives include opening a PDF file with Adobe Reader or a .psd with Photoshop. The company doesn’t mention Microsoft Office, of course, given its own Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps, but Word, Excel, and PowerPoint should work with this as well.

Here’s the best part. After you’re done making your edits, the changes are saved back to Google Drive, which in turn will sync them across all your devices and other collaborators.

The release is part of Google’s bigger strategy of merging two worlds: the Web and the desktop. The company isn’t stopping at Chrome OS, its browser-as-an-operating-system.

No, Google is pushing the limits much further. The company wants its browser, and any apps designed for it, to blend together.

It acknowledges that software for advanced image and video editing, accounting, 3D animation, design, and so on cannot be replaced by Web apps just yet. Still, that doesn’t mean the Internet can’t play more and more of a role to make these tools even more useful.

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