How to Convert Excel to Google Sheets

A laptop showing the conversion of Excel file to Google Sheets

Excel and Google Sheets both offer some excellent features, and choosing between them usually comes down to preference. But what if you need to send an Excel file to someone who’s using Google Sheets? You can do so quite easily once you learn how to convert Excel to Google Sheets.

Good to know: learn how to cross out text in Excel cells by following our guide.

Upload Your Excel File to Google Sheets

You can directly upload your Excel spreadsheet to Google Sheets. The utility will automatically convert its file format from XLSX to GSHEET.

Launch your browser, and go to Google Sheets. Click the Open file picker button (the folder icon) to select your Excel file.

Opening new file in Google Sheets.

Switch to the Upload tab, and click the Browse button to select your Excel file from your local storage. Alternatively, drag and drop your Excel spreadsheet into the empty space.

Uploading a new spreadsheet to Google Sheets.

Wait for the upload process to finish. Google Sheets will automatically open your uploaded spreadsheet, with the formatting intact.

FYI: did you know that you can find and remove duplicates in Excel easily? We demonstrate how.

Import Your Excel File to Google Sheets

If you only need to bring over your Excel data to your Google Sheets spreadsheet, consider importing it instead.

On a new or existing Google Sheets spreadsheet, choose File -> Import to open the Import file dialog box, where you can select your Excel spreadsheet. You’ll be able to select a file to import from Google Drive.

Pressing on "Import" option under "File" in Google Sheets.

If you have already uploaded the Excel file to your Google Drive account, consider using the search bar at the top to quickly locate it. If you haven’t, switch to the Upload tab, and click the Browse button to retrieve your file from your offline storage.

In the new dialog box, you can select the import destination of your Excel spreadsheet. Under Import location, choose the right option for you.

Selecting import destination for Excel spreadsheet in Google Sheets.

If you decide to replace the spreadsheet, keep in mind that your current data in Google Sheets will be erased. To finish the process, click Import data.

Tip: learn how to transfer Google Drive files to another account.

Use Google Drive to Make the Conversion

If you’ve previously saved your Excel documents in Google Drive, you can save them as a Google Sheet in Drive.

Go to Google Drive, and open the Excel file and upload the file if you haven’t done so.

This will open Google Sheets in compatibility mode, with a green icon beside the title, indicating its file format: XLSX.

Open the File menu, and click Save as Google Sheets from the drop-down.

Clicking "Save as Google Sheets" option in Google Drive.

This will generate a new Google Sheets file containing all the data in your original Excel spreadsheet. The Excel file will remain unchanged in Google Drive.

Note: you can also convert Microsoft Word files to Google Docs and vice versa.

Converting Excel Files to Google Sheets Automatically

If you want to skip the steps above, let Drive automatically do the conversion for you. Of course, you can still download your spreadsheet as an Excel file later on.

Go to Google Drive, and click the gear icon in the top right. Select Settings from the drop-down list.

Opening Settings in Google Drive.

This will open the General tab in Settings. Under Uploads, tick the checkbox for Convert uploads to Google Docs editor format.

Ticking the box next to "Convert uploads to Google Docs editor format" in Google Drive.

Tip: if you need to add dates in Google Sheets, you can have the app fill those in automatically.

Compatibility Issues

When converting an Excel file to Google Sheets, you may encounter some compatibility issues, as the two applications have differences in functionality and formatting. Here are some things to expect:

  • You won’t be able to import password-protected Excel files – you’ll need to remove the password before uploading to Google Sheets.
  • Workbook links won’t work – if you’ve added links to other workbooks in your Excel spreadsheets, they won’t be functional in Sheets.
  • No Power Query, PowerPivot and similar features – these are specialized features in Excel that don’t have corresponding options in Sheets.
  • VBA macros won’t work – unless you rewrite your code in AppScript, these automation features will be useless in Google Sheets.
  • Charts and formatting issues – some charts, conditional formatting, and interactive controls may not work in Sheets.
  • Select functions won’t work – while there are many Excel functions that have Google Sheets equivalents, not all do. For instance, the WEBSERVICE function in Excel is completely reliant on the Windows operating system. Other incompatible functions include the CUBE crop, INFO, and REGISTER.ID.

Tip: check out how to turn on dark mode in Google Sheets.

Using Google Sheets can be better for casual spreadsheet users and online collaboration. You can even link data between different Google spreadsheets to make one master file. If you want to imitate your VBA Excel macros, make sure to read our guide on how to use Google Sheets macros, too!

Image credit: Freepik. All screenshots by Princess Angolluan.

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Princess Angolluan

Princess is a freelance writer based in Croatia. She used to work as an English teacher in Hokkaido, Japan before she finally changed careers and focused on content writing & copywriting, while running their own digital marketing company in Europe. For 5 years, she has written many articles and web pages on various niches like technology, finance, digital marketing, etc. Princess loves playing FPS games, watching anime, and singing.