Copying Google Docs from one Google account to another

Google Docs allows you to download multiple documents at once in the form of a Zip file, and it allows you to upload multiple documents at once by uploading a folder. You can use these two capabilities to easily move Google Docs files from one account to another.

To begin, sign on to the Google Docs account that holds the documents you want to move, and select the Owned by me view to see all your documents. In this example, we will work with the following documents:

If you don’t use collections (folders) to organize your documents, then you can move everything in one single operation. However, if you do use collections, doing it this way can produce some unintended duplication of documents that you’d probably rather avoid. Therefore, it’s usually better to move all the documents that aren’t in any collections in one operation, followed by a similar move operation for each collection.

In the display above, you can see that there are two collections, Images (which contains three .jpg files) and Recipes (which contains two .pdf files). There are also four documents that are not in any collections at all: a Google document (Cloud Storage Services), a Word document (coverletter.doc), a Google spreadsheet (falltv), and an Excel spreadsheet (Monthly Budget.xls). We will move these four documents first, and then move each of the collections separately.

To move the four documents that aren’t in any collections, we check the boxes next to their names, and then choose More→Download...

This will bring up the Convert and Download dialog box:

In the figure above, the box shows that the Google document will be converted to Microsoft Word, the Google spreadsheet will be converted to Microsoft Excel, and the other two files will not be converted. If by default the dialogue sets to “skip” a files type such as a drawing, simply select the desired file type from the drop down menu.Once you’re happy with the settings, click the Download button and Google Docs will create a Zip file of your documents. When the file is ready, your browser will prompt you to download and save it.

To upload the documents you just downloaded to your other Google Docs account, begin by signing onto the Google Docs account to which you want to upload the documents. In this example, we will upload our documents into a brand new account, although you will follow exactly the same steps to upload your documents to your existing account:

Note: Uploading documents in bulk to Google Docs works best if you use Google’s Chrome web browser. If you’re using a different browser, you will have to follow some special instructions to install a Java helper applet; these instructions are provided at the time you upload. Installation and use of the Java applet is outside the scope of this example; here we are using the Chrome browser.

Before you can upload your documents, you need to extract them from the Zip file downloaded earlier. Follow whatever steps you normally use to create a new, empty folder and extract the entire contents of the Zip file into that folder. It doesn’t matter what name you give to the folder, as you won’t be using it after uploading the documents.

After unzipping the documents into a folder, select Folder... from the upload menu (the little button with a picture of a hard drive and an arrow on it):

In the folder selection dialog box that pops up, select the folder you extracted the Zip file into, and click OK (or Open). This will bring up the Upload settings dialog box:

Check or don’t check the box next to “Convert documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and drawings to the corresponding Google Docs format” according to your preference (note that if you want some files converted and others not converted, you’ll have to perform two separate uploads). Make sure that the box nect to “Convert text from PDF and image files to Google documents” is not checked (unless you really want this behavior; you probably don’t). Then click the Start upload button.

Once the upload is complete, you will see that all of the documents you uploaded have been placed in a collection (folder) with the name of the folder you uploaded. In the example below, they have all been placed into a collection called MyGoogleDocs, since that’s what we called our folder.

Recall, however, that we were moving the documents that weren’t in any collections. So, we need to move these documents “up” one level out of the collection. To do this, close the upload status window by clicking on the ‘×’ and then check the box next to the TITLE heading, as shown below.

Then click on the Organize button (the one with the picture of a folder on it) and un-check the box next to the collection name (in this case, MyGoogleDocs).

Click on the Apply changes button, and all the files will be removed from the collection (they’ll still be in Google Docs). Then click on the collection name on the left side of the window, and click on the little down-arrow to bring up the menu, and select Move to trash to get rid of the (now empty) collection.

Now we’re all done moving the documents that weren’t in any collections. To move the other documents (the ones that are in collections), we simply repeat the above steps, with a few minor changes:

  1. Instead of selecting Owned by me to view the list of documents, we’ll select one of the collection names.
  2. Instead of unzipping the downloaded documents into a new folder with just any old name, we’ll unzip them into a folder with the same name as the collection. That way, when we upload them, they’ll be placed in the collection automatically.
  3. We won’t go through the last couple of steps to move the documents out of the collection and delete the collection.

Note: The procedure described here is for moving documents that you own in Google Docs. If you follow this procedure with documents you don’t own, but that have been shared with you by other users, you will be able to move the documents to your new Google Docs account, but you will be moving copies of the documents, not the documents themselves. Any changes you make to the copied documents will not be reflected in the original document, nor will you see any changes made to the original document in your copy. For this reason, it’s better if you don’t move the shared documents at all with this procedure, and instead ask the document owners to re-share the documents with your new Google Docs account.