Configuring for Google Drive

neurotic can download files from Google Drive (see URLs to Use with Google Drive for details on how to specify remote URLs). However, before this capability can be used, you must complete some manual configuration.

Generating a Client Secret File

Because of limitations stated in Google’s Terms of Service on what client-identifying credentials may be included with open source desktop applications, it is not possible for neurotic to supply users with an essential file needed for Google Drive access [1]. This file is called the client secret file, and you will need to generate one yourself. The instructions in this section will walk you through this one-time process.

The file produced by following these steps, client_secret.json, does not provide access to your Google account, so your account is not compromised if the file falls into the wrong hands. However, it does identify you to Google as the creator of that file whenever neurotic uses it to download files; for this reason, you are discouraged from distributing this file to others, as abuse of it could cause Google to invalidate it and sanction your account.

The steps below take advantage of a tutorial. If you know what you are doing, you can generate your own client secret file from the Google API Console instead of using the tutorial, but that procedure is much more complicated. The tutorial is comparatively easy.

  1. Click the following link to open a web page. The web page is a tutorial for accessing Google Drive programmatically, as neurotic does. You will not need to follow the steps of this tutorial, but it does provide a convenient shortcut for generating the client secret file.

  2. Click the button labeled “Enable the Drive API” in step 1 of the tutorial. You may be prompted to log into Google, and then a series of dialog boxes will take you through the configuration process. Follow these steps:

    1. Enter new project name: “neurotic”.
    2. Accept terms of service, if necessary.
    3. Click “Next”.
    4. Configure your OAuth client: Choose “Desktop app”.
    5. Click “Create”.
    6. Click “Download Client Configuration”, which will download a file called credentials.json.
    7. Click “Done”.
  3. Rename credentials.json to client_secret.json.

  4. Launch neurotic. Under the Help menu, click “Open Google Drive credentials directory”. Move the client_secret.json file into this folder.

  5. Finally, close and restart neurotic.

Authorizing neurotic to Access Google Drive

After you have created a client secret file and saved it to the right location, you can attempt to download files from Google Drive using a properly configured metadata file (see URLs to Use with Google Drive for details). When you do this for the first time, or when you use the “Request Google Drive authorization now” action under the Help menu, you will need to complete the following steps to authorize neurotic to access your Google Drive:

  1. Your web browser will open and ask you to sign into a Google account before continuing to “Quickstart”. This name comes from the tutorial used to make the client secret file.

    Google Drive authorization flow, step 1
  2. You will be presented with an intimidating warning about the app being unverified by Google. You will see your own email listed as the software developer because this warning is associated with the client secret file you created.

    Google Drive authorization flow, step 2
  3. Due to the terms-of-service limitations mentioned earlier, it is not possible for neurotic to distribute a client secret file that would avoid presenting you with this warning. This policy exists because open source desktop applications can be modified by anyone with access to the system at any time, making it impossible for Google to certify that the mutable app has any particular identity and is safe. If you trust the application and are willing to proceed without Google’s stamp of approval, click “Advanced” to reveal more text, and then click “Go to Quickstart (unsafe)”, which will take you past this warning.

    Google Drive authorization flow, step 3
  4. To download files from your Google Drive, neurotic needs the privileges to access and read those files. Click “Allow” to indicate that you want to allow this. Note that again the app is referred to as “Quickstart” due to the settings of the tutorial used to create the client secret file.

    Google Drive authorization flow, step 4
  5. Click “Allow” another time to confirm. Again, “Quickstart” refers to your client secret file, which neurotic will use.

    Google Drive authorization flow, step 5
  6. When you see this message in your browser, you can close it: “The authentication flow has completed.”

The authorization process should now be complete, and you can begin using neurotic to access and download Google Drive files.

Making Google Drive Authorization Persistent

By default, authorization persists only until neurotic is closed. Each time neurotic is restarted and you want to download from Google Drive again, you will need to repeat the authorization procedure described above. You can avoid this by configuring neurotic to retain the products of authorization (access and refresh tokens) indefinitely. See Changing Default Behavior for details on the global configuration file; by setting the save_tokens parameter under the gdrive heading to true, you can minimize the frequency of authorization requests.


Enabling save_tokens is not recommended on systems used by others you do not trust. These others will be able to download files from your Google Drive using neurotic with the same level of ease you experience, and with access to the token file they could use it outside of neurotic to gain read-only access to your Google Drive and your Shared Drives.

Purging Google Drive Authorization

If you need to use a different Google account than the one you previously authorized neurotic to use, or if you had set save_tokens=true and now want to remove the persistent access and refresh tokens from your system, you can use the “Purge Google Drive authorization token” action from the Help menu. After using this, you will need to complete the authorization procedure again, and you will have the opportunity to select a different Google account.

[1]See this StackOverflow question for an informal discussion.