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How to use Google Colab

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If you want to create a machine learning model but say you don’t have a computer that can take the workload, Google Colab is the platform for you. Even if you have a GPU or a good computer creating a local environment with Anaconda and installing packages and resolving installation issues are a hassle. Colab is a free Jupyter Notebook environment provided by Google where you can use free GPUs and TPUs which can solve all these issues.

Getting Started With Google Colab 

To start working with Colab you first need to log in to your Google account, then go to this link

Opening Jupyter Notebook

On opening the website you will see a pop-up containing the following tabs – 

Open jupyter notebook in google colab

Open colab notebook 

EXAMPLES: Contain a number of Jupyter notebooks of various examples. 

RECENT: Jupyter notebook you have recently worked with. 

GOOGLE DRIVE: Jupyter notebook in your google drive. 

GITHUB: You can add Jupyter notebook from your GitHub but you first need to connect Colab with GitHub. 

UPLOAD: Upload from your local directory.

Else you can create a new Jupyter Notebook by clicking New Python3 Notebook or New Python2 Notebook at the bottom right corner.

 Notebook’s Description

On creating a new notebook, it will create a Jupyter notebook with Untitled0.ipynb and save it to your google drive in a folder named Colab Notebooks. Now as it is essentially a Jupyter Notebook, all commands of Jupyter Notebooks will work here. Though, you can refer to the details in Getting Started with Jupyter Notebook. Let’s talk about what is different here. Change Runtime Environment: Click the “Runtime” dropdown menu. Select “Change runtime type”. Select python2 or 3 from the “Runtime type” dropdown menu.   

Runtime setting in google colab

Use GPU and TPU

Click the “Runtime” dropdown menu. Select “Change runtime type”. Now select anything(GPU, CPU, None) you want in the “Hardware accelerator” dropdown menu. 

Gpu And Tpu in google colab 


Select Python in colab

Select Python in colab

Verify GPU in Colab 


import tensorflow as tf

If GPU is connected it will output the following –


Otherwise, it will output following


Verify TPU 


import os
if 'COLAB_TPU_ADDR' not in os.environ:
  print('Not connected to TPU')
  print("Connected to TPU")

If GPU is connected it will output following

Connected to TPU

Otherwise, it will output following

Not connected to TPU

Install Python packages 

Use can use pip to install any package. For example: 


! pip install pandas

 Clone GitHub repos in Google Colab 

Use the git clone command. For example: 


! git clone

Upload File on Google Colab


from google.colab import files
uploaded = files.upload()

Select “Choose file” and upload the file you want. Enable third-party cookies if they are disabled. Then you can save it in a dataframe. 


import io
df2 = pd.read_csv(io.BytesIO(uploaded['file_name.csv']))

Upload File By Mounting Google Drive

To mount your drive inside the “mntDrive” folder execute the following – 


from google.colab import drive

Then you’ll see a link, click on the link, then allow access, copy the code that pops up, and paste it at “Enter your authorization code:”. Now to see all data in your google drive you need to execute the following: 


! ls '/mntDrive/My Drive"'

Uploading files on google colab 

File Hierarchy In Google Colab 

You can also see the file hierarchy by clicking “>” at the top left below the control buttons (CODE, TEXT, CELL).

Download Files from Google Colab 

Let’s say you want to download “file_name.csv”. You can copy the file to your google drive (In “data” folder, you need to create the “data” folder in google drive) by executing this: 


cp file_name.csv "/mntDrive/My Drive/data/renamed_file_name.csv"

The file will be saved in the “data” folder with the “renamed_file_name.csv” name. Now you can directly download from there, Or, you can just open the file hierarchy and right-clicking will give a download option. Download Jupyter Notebook: Click the “File” dropdown menu at the top left corner. Choose “download .ipynb” or “download .py” 

Downloading files from Google Colab 

 Share Jupyter Notebook: You can share your notebook by adding others’ email addresses or by creating a shareable link.  

share Jupyter notebook in colab 

Share Google colab notebook 

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Last Updated : 23 May, 2023
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