Drive API v2 and v3 comparison guide

The latest Google Drive API version is v3. The performance in v3 is better because searches only return a subset of fields. Use the current version unless you need the v2 collection. If you're using v2, consider migrating to v3. To migrate, see Migrate to Drive API v3. For a complete list of version differences, see the Drive API v2 and v3 comparison reference.

If you want to continue to use v2, see the Guide to Drive API v2 amendment to learn how some instructions in the v3 guides must be amended for v2 developers.

To learn more about Drive API v3 improvements, you can watch the following video by Google engineers discussing the new API design.

V3 improvements

To optimize performance and reduce API behavior complexity, v3 provides these improvements over the previous API version:

  • Searches for files and shared drives don't return full resources by default, only a subset of commonly used fields gets returned. For more details on fields, see the files.list method and the drives.list method.
  • Almost all methods that return a response now require the fields parameter. For a list of all methods requiring fields, see the Drive API reference.
  • Resources that have duplicate capabilities were removed. Some examples:
    • The files.list method accomplishes the same functionality as the Children and Parents collections, so they're removed from v3.
    • The Realtime.* methods have been removed.
  • App Data isn't returned by default in searches. In v2, you can set the drive.appdata scope, and it returns application data from the files.list method and the changes.list method, but it slows performance. In v3, you set the drive.appdata scope, and also set the query parameter spaces=appDataFolder to request application data.
  • All update operations use PATCH instead of PUT.
  • To export Google Documents, use the files.export method.
  • The changes.list method behavior is different. Instead of change IDs, use opaque page tokens. To poll the change collection, first call the changes.getStartPageToken method for the initial value. For subsequent queries, the changes.list method returns the newStartPageToken value.
  • Update methods now reject requests that specify non-writable fields.
  • The v2 exportFormats and importFormats fields in the about resource are lists of allowable import or export formats. In v3, they're MIME type maps of possible targets to all supported imports or exports.
  • The v2 appdata and appfolder aliases are now appDataFolder in v3.
  • The properties resource is removed from v3. The files resource has the properties field that contains true key-value pairs. The properties field contains public properties, and the appProperties field contains private properties, so the visibility field isn't needed.
  • The modifiedTime field in the files resource updates the last time anyone modified the file. In v2, the modifiedDate field was only mutable on update if you set the setModifiedDate field.
  • The viewedByMeTime field in the files resource doesn't automatically update.
  • To import Google Docs formats, you set the appropriate target mimeType in the resource body. In v2, you set ?convert=true.
  • Import operations return a 400 error if the format isn't supported.
  • Readers and commenters can't view permissions.
  • The me alias for permissions is removed.
  • Some functionality was available as part of the request resource but is instead available as a request parameter. For example:
    • In v2, you can use children.delete to remove a child file from a parent folder.
    • In v3, you usefiles.update on the child with ?removeParents=parent_id in the URL.

Other differences

Fields and parameter names are different in v3. Some examples include:

  • The name property replaces title in the files resource.
  • Time is the suffix for all date and time fields instead of Date.
  • List operations don't use the items field to contain the result set. The resource type provides a field for the results (such as files or changes).