Convert Microsoft Office To Google Docs Using Google Drive (Or Don't)

Convert Microsoft Office To Google Docs Using Google Drive (Or Don’t)

Google Drive FilesGoogle 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.

Google Drive 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.

Google Drive Upload Settings

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.

Google Drive Uploaded Excel

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.

Google Drive Excel Preview

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.

Google Drive 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.

Google Drive Converted Spreadsheet

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.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 13 comments

GUP - June 2, 2019 Reply

it’s happening to me, for the past 10 dys or so, that drive it’s not converting the xls to drive sheets…. it’s really weird, anyone?

Support - March 18, 2019 Reply

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Pradip - March 7, 2019 Reply

amazing tip…made life a lot easier….no need to learn app script just of yet! vba will still suffice.

Thanks Brooks! 🙂 “Y””Y”

Knowing - April 5, 2018 Reply

A perfect solution

Yaad S - April 3, 2018 Reply

There’s also a very cool Chrome extension for that called: Office2Google

    Francisco BAEZA - April 3, 2018 Reply

    No access with the link you left

Francisco BAEZA - August 20, 2017 Reply

Unfortunately, when you have attached an excel or word documento on gmail, if you upload, it does not upload them into google documents. It is a waste of time to download and then upload to drive with the function. is there any way to fix this?

rainabba - April 13, 2017 Reply

What do you do after having used the conversion but want the office format files back? I’ve got a client I setup with more than 60GB of data (10k’s of office documents) and he’s not taking to Sheets/Docs. Right now he’s hating Drive as a result because where he expects to find excel files, he’s taken to a browser 🙁

Mykee - November 4, 2016 Reply

I am trying to upload (save) them directly from my Google Drive for PC and it is not converting the excel files automatically to Google Sheets. Is there a way to to this from my Google Drive PC folder or do I really have to manually upload it in web based Google Drive?

karen - March 7, 2016 Reply

Thanksss, so so helpful!

fiona - September 25, 2015 Reply

Hi – with the new gdocs a while back the “convert and ask ” each time setting seems to be gone. In fact the old “upload settings ” button on the settings drop down doesn’t even appear for me and worse even though the new drive has a upload settings option that has to be clicked every time – it doesn’t seem to be converting… Have you any work around or happen to know if G is getting this great feature back online in the new drive?/Cheers

John Stock - March 18, 2015 Reply

I’m coming out of a corporate environment, where of course everything was MS. Now, web-based apps are the thing among my new colleagues. I’m moving to Google Docs and Open Office, and moving from an iphone to a droid. Overwhelming for me!

Do you have any concerns about privacy, or are you just assuming both MS and Google will crawl thru everything you store?

How about migrating away from MS, or Google in the future – may we assume that they are both so widely used that any future tech will have to offer a path for migrating?

Finally, do you expect to combine data (as in word or excel) with web-clips and sounds files (like your own dictated notes) and “Recognized / Searchable” data as in OCR or Voice-to-text files?

Have you considered OneNote?

John Mullender - March 18, 2015 Reply

What you don’t say is whether one should use Google Drive in the first place. If “yes”, then decide whether to convert. I have been agonizing over Google Drive v. OneDrive and have finally come down with OneDrive. Yes, you have to buy Office 365, but the combined cost of 365 and the terabyte that Microsoft throws in with 365 makes the cost about what you pay for a terabyte from Google. That is a lot of storage that you may not need, of course, but the cost is not a lot more for the difference between 200 gb, which I do need, and the 1000 gb. I can probably fill up some of that if it is available.

However, my reason for settling on OneDrive was mainly lethargy in not wanting to fool around with converting files. I also believe that 365 is easier to use–for me, at least. The simplicity of Google Docs is appealing, but I found 365 to work more smoothly.

I could be persuaded to do a 180 to Google–I do like email, the calendar, etc. better than Microsoft’s Outlook. For now, I am unpersuaded that Google is preferable. JM

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