Google Drive is a bit of a weird service. It is a file storage/synchronization service, but it is also an online Microsoft Office competitor.
Things get a bit blurred when you upload a Microsoft Word, Excel, or other Microsoft Office file. Do you want it to just store them like any other file? Or do you want it to convert it from Microsoft Office to the appropriate Google Drive format like Google Docs or Google Sheets?
Fortunately, you can control Drive’s behavior.
To access the settings, click on the Gear settings icon and then choose Settings.
You’ll see that you have a setting for Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format. If you’d like it to automatically convert your file on upload, check that.
Let’s see what happens when we have everything unchecked.
I uploaded an Excel spreadsheet. You’ll see that the icon beside the filename has the Excel logo. This means the document has not been converted.
When you click on it, you can preview the file and then download it if you’d like. Either way, the file remains as the original Excel file.
Now let’s see what happens when we check Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format and re-upload.
You’ll see that this time, the icon has the Google Sheets icon. This means the file has been converted.
When I click into it, it’ll open up as a Google spreadsheet. I can edit it right from within the browser and share it and do everything else Google Doc-ish. Notice at the bottom the conversion is quite good: it even converted the tabs properly.
This example shows Excel, but there are many types of files that it will convert to Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Here is what it will convert as per this Google page:
- For documents: .doc (if newer than Microsoft® Office 95), .docx, .docm .dot, .dotx, .dotm, .html, plain text (.txt), .rtf, .odt
- For spreadsheets: .xls (if newer than Microsoft® Office 95), .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlt, .xltx, .xltm .ods, .csv, .tsv, .txt, .tab
- For presentations: .ppt (if newer than Microsoft® Office 95), .pptx, .pptm, .pps, .ppsx, .ppsm, .pot, .potx, .potm, .odp
- For drawings: .wmf
*For OCR: .jpg, .gif, .png, .pdf
If you already have Office files in Google Drive and want to convert them, you don’t have to re-upload them. See this post for how to convert Excel to Google Sheets for an example.
How has converting Office files to Google Docs worked for you? Leave a comment and let us know.
Updated 03/15/2016 with the new Google Drive interface.