These functions return the content of a Drive file as either a string or raw bytes. You will likely need to do additional work to parse the content into a useful R object.

drive_download() is the more generally useful function, but for certain file types, such as comma-separated values (MIME type text/csv), it can be handy to read data directly from Google Drive and avoid writing to disk.

Just as for drive_download(), native Google file types, such as Google Sheets or Docs, must be exported as a conventional MIME type. See the help for drive_download() for more.

drive_read_string(file, type = NULL, encoding = NULL)

drive_read_raw(file, type = NULL)



Something that identifies the file of interest on your Google Drive. Can be a name or path, a file id or URL marked with as_id(), or a dribble.


Character. Only consulted if file is a native Google file. Specifies the desired type of the exported file. Will be processed via drive_mime_type(), so either a file extension like "pdf" or a full MIME type like "application/pdf" is acceptable.


Passed along to httr::content(). Describes the encoding of the input file.


  • read_drive_string(): a UTF-8 encoded string

  • read_drive_raw(): a raw() vector


# comma-separated values --> data.frame or tibble
(chicken_csv <- drive_example_remote("chicken.csv"))
#> # A dribble: 1 × 3
#>   name        id                                drive_resource   
#>   <chr>       <drv_id>                          <list>           
#> 1 chicken.csv 1VOh6wWbRfuQLxbLg87o58vxJt95SIiZ7 <named list [35]>
chicken_csv %>%
  drive_read_string() %>%
  read.csv(text = .)
#> No encoding supplied: defaulting to UTF-8.
#>                   chicken            breed     sex
#> 1         Foghorn Leghorn          Leghorn rooster
#> 2          Chicken Little          unknown     hen
#> 3                  Ginger Rhode Island Red     hen
#> 4     Camilla the Chicken       Chantecler     hen
#> 5 Ernie The Giant Chicken           Brahma rooster
#>                                                      motto
#> 1               That's a joke, ah say, that's a joke, son.
#> 2                                      The sky is falling!
#> 3 Listen. We'll either die free chickens or we die trying.
#> 4                                     Bawk, buck, ba-gawk.
#> 5                      Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold.

# Google Doc --> character vector
(chicken_doc <- drive_example_remote("chicken_doc"))
#> # A dribble: 1 × 3
#>   name        id                                           drive_resource   
#>   <chr>       <drv_id>                                     <list>           
#> 1 chicken_doc 1X9pd4nOjl33zDFfTjw-_eFL7Qb9_g6VfVFDp1PPae94 <named list [31]>
chicken_doc %>%
  # NOTE: we must specify an export MIME type
  drive_read_string(type = "text/plain") %>%
  strsplit(split = "(\r\n|\r|\n)") %>%
#> No encoding supplied: defaulting to UTF-8.
#> [1] "A chicken whose name was Chantecler"      
#> [2] "Clucked in iambic pentameter"             
#> [3] "It sat on a shelf, reading Song of Myself"
#> [4] "And laid eggs with a perfect diameter."   
#> [5] ""                                         
#> [6] ""                                         
#> [7] "—Richard Maxson"