How to Convert an Excel File to Google Sheets

Spreadsheet Table Cells

You can convert Excel files to Google Sheets by importing an Excel file, by opening it in Google Drive, or while uploading to Google Drive.

Microsoft Excel has been the world’s leading spreadsheet application for a long time. But, Google’s free Excel counterpart, Google Sheets, has become a very popular alternative to the expensive Microsoft Excel. Not only is it free, but it’s also easily accessible from anywhere, from any computer – all you need is an internet connection.

Although Excel is more advanced and more capable than Google Sheets, when it comes to sharing and collaborating the spreadsheets, Google sheets beat Excel hands-down.

If you’re looking to migrate to Google Workspace from Excel and you want to transfer some of your Excel spreadsheets to Google Sheets, you can do this in multiple ways. In this tutorial, we will explain several methods to convert Excel files to Google Sheets.

Convert Excel to Google Sheets by Importing an Excel File

If you want to convert your Excel spreadsheet to Google Sheets automatically, you can import the excel file contents directly into the Google sheets. This method is really helpful when you want to add an Excel file to an existing Google Sheets spreadsheet. Here’s a step by step walkthrough:

First, open Google Sheets and log in using your credentials. Next, open a new blank spreadsheet or an existing document in which you want to add the Excel content.

In the Google Sheet document, go to ‘File’ menu and click on the ‘Import’ option.

In the Import File dialog window, select the ‘Upload’ tab.

You will see a drag and drop box. Here, you can drag and drop your excel file (.xls or .xlsx) or click on the ‘Select a file from your computer’ button.

This will open up the file selector window. In that, navigate to the document you want to convert on your computer and select it. Then, click ‘Open’ to import the file.

After the upload finishes, you will see another import file dialog box as shown below. Here, choose how you want your Excel file to be imported.

Click on the ‘Import location’ drop-down menu and choose an option.

You can replace the current spreadsheet with the imported file, import the file to a new spreadsheet, or import the file to a new sheet in the current document. Then, click on the ‘Import data’ button.

This will automatically convert the Excel file and open it in Google Sheets.

Issues with converting Excel to Google Sheets

While it’s great that you can convert Excel documents to Google sheets, but there are still limitations in Google sheets. When you convert the Excel file, you would lose some functionalities and face some compatibility-related issues. 

  • Macros won’t work in Google Sheets.
  • Google Sheets don’t import password-protected files.
  • It doesn’t support Power Query and Power Pivot functions.
  • It doesn’t support some Excel formats.
  • Some Excel formulas are not compatible with Google Sheets.

Convert Excel to Google Sheets by Opening in Google Drive

Another method for converting Excel files to Google Sheets is by uploading the Excel file into Google Drive and then save them as Google Sheets. Here’s how to do this:

First, Open Google Drive in your browser. Click the ‘New’ button at the top left corner of the window and then select ‘File Upload’ from the drop-down menu.

Find and select the file you want to upload, and then click ‘Open’.

Once the file has been uploaded, right-click on the file, go to ‘Open with’ and select the ‘Google Sheets’ option.

This will open the Excel file in Google Sheets as an editable document. But the file is still in Excel file format. You can notice the ‘.xlsx’ badge at the end of the Excel file name which means the file is still in Excel format.

This way you can still edit the document but keep it in Excel Format and all changes will be saved to the original Excel file.

But if you want to convert the Excel file to Google Sheets, click on the ‘File’ menu and select the ‘Save as Google Sheets’ option.

Now the Excel file will be converted to Google Sheet and saved as a separate file. And any changes you make to this new Google Sheets file will not affect the original Excel file.

You can distinguish both files by looking at the icon in front of the file names. Excel files have an ‘X’ while Google Sheets have two crossed lines (cross symbol).

Convert Excel to Google Sheets while Uploading to Google Drive

The above methods are great if you have only a few files to convert. What if you have hundreds of files to convert to Google Sheets? Doing it one by one would take a long time to convert all of them.

Instead, you can set your Google Drive to automatically convert any future uploads of Excel files to Google Sheet format. In Google Sheets, you can set to convert those files automatically while uploading. You can set this up by following these steps:

First, open the Google Drive Homepage and log in with your Google account. Then, click on the gear icon on the top right of the page and select ‘Settings’.

In the Settings dialog box, go to the ‘General’ section in the left panel.

In the ‘General’ section, select the box that says ‘Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format’ next to ‘Convert Uploads’ and click ‘Done’.

Now, whenever you upload single or multiple files Excel files to Google Drive, they will automatically be converted into the Google Sheets format.

Export a Google Sheets Back to Excel

While you’re working in Google Sheets, some of your colleagues may still be working in Microsoft Excel. If you’re going to send your Google spreadsheet to them, you need to convert the file back to Excel file format. It is also quite easy.

First, open the Google Sheets file that you want to convert to an Excel sheet. Go to the ‘File’ menu, click ‘Download’ and select ‘Microsoft Excel (.xls)’.

You also have options to download your file in PDF, CSV, XLS, HTML formats, etc.

In the Save as window, change the file name if you want and save your file back to Excel file format (.xls). That’s it, now you can share your Excel file.

If you want to convert your file directly from Google Drive, right-click on the file and select ‘Download’.

It will be automatically converted to Excel format.