How to Convert Excel to Google Sheets (Step-by-Step)

The war between Google Sheets and Excel users rages on. These are two of the most popular spreadsheet programs. Those who are comfortable using Google Sheets swear by it, while Microsoft Office Excel lovers prefer to stay within their Excel comfort zones.

But what happens when an Excel user sends a spreadsheet to a Google Sheets user?

Unless you have Excel, you can’t open and edit it.

If you are one of those Google Sheets loyalists at the receiving end of an Excel document, you do have a choice of just viewing the document as it is.

But if you want to work on the sent file in your familiar and comfortable Google Sheets environment, you may want to convert Excel to Google Sheets.

In this tutorial, I will show you some ways you can use to open an Excel file in Google Sheets easily. Excel

The Easiest Way to Convert Excel to Google Sheets

You can upload an Excel file directly into Google Sheets. Here’s how you can import from Excel to Google Sheets using your drive:

  1. Open a blank Google Sheet and navigate to File > Open
  2. Click the Upload tab in the Open a file menu
  3. Click and drag your Excel file into the space and click Open.
  4. The Excel file will open in a new window. Click Open with and choose Google Sheets.
Open With Google Sheets

Your Excel file will open as a Google spreadsheet, and it will also be automatically uploaded to your Google drive.

How to Convert Excel to Google Sheets Using Import

Another direct way to convert Excel to Google Sheets is by importing it into Google Sheets. Here’s how to do it:

  1. In Google Sheets, go to File> Import.
In Google sheets, go to File> Import.
  1. Click Upload and drag your Excel file into the window or browse for it from your computer.
Click Upload and drag your excel file into the window or browse for it from your computer.
  1. Once the file is done uploading, choose either to replace the spreadsheet, or create a new spreadsheet then click Import data.
Once the file is done uploading choose either to replace spreadsheet or create new spreadsheet then click Import data.

Your Excel file will be imported with its format intact.

How to Convert Excel to Google Sheets Using Google Drive

Google Sheets can work with the following Excel file formats:

  • .xls
  • .xlsx
  • .xlsm
  • .xlt
  • .ods
  • .csv
  • .tsv
  • .tab

If you need to open a file in Google Sheets, it needs to first be present in your Google drive. So the first step to opening an Excel file in Google Sheets is to upload it to the drive.

Here’s how to export Excel to Google Sheets:

  1. Open your browser and go to Google Drive by typing in the location bar.
  2. On the top left of the Google Drive screen, click on New and then navigate to File Upload from the drop-down menu.
    Click on New and then click on File Upload
  3. Select the Excel file you want to upload from your computer. Give it a few seconds to upload.
    Select the file by navigating to it's location

The above steps will add your Excel file to the drive, and now you will be able to open it even if you don’t have Excel installed on your system.

To view the file content, simply double-click on it.

At this point, you can just view the file, but you cannot make any changes to it.

If you want to make changes to it, you need to open it in Google Sheets by clicking on the Open in Google Docs option on the top of the screen.

Click on Open with Google Sheets

If you cannot see this option, don’t worry. You can still open the file in Google Sheets by right-clicking, then selecting clicking Open with -> Google Sheets.

Now you can edit your file, share and collaborate with others on the import data using Google Sheets. This is a very simple way to transfer Excel to Google Sheets.

The best part is, when you save this file, all changes will be saved to the original Excel file.

spreadsheet fundamentals

How to Convert an Excel File to Google Sheets Format

You might want to not just edit your file in Google Sheets, but also save it in the Google Sheets format instead of the Excel format.

If that is the case, make sure your file is already open in Google Sheets, select Save as Google Sheets from the File menu.

Save an Excel file as Google Sheets

You will now have two copies of the same file – one in Excel format and another in Google Sheets format.

So even if you make any changes to this Google Sheet file, your original .xls file will remain unchanged. That’s how to turn Excel into Google Sheet files.

How to Save Excel as a Google Sheet Automatically in Google Drive

You can set your Google Drive to automatically convert subsequent uploads of Excel files to Google Sheet format.

This will save you a lot of time if you need to often use Excel files in Google Sheets. You can set this up as follows:

  1. Open Google drive.
  2. Click on the gear icon on the top right.
    Click on the gear icon in Google Drive
  3. Click Settings from the options that show up.
    Click on settings
  4. In the Settings box, you will see an option that says “Convert Uploads”. Check the box that says “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format”.
    Convert Uploaded files to Google Docs Editor format
  5. Click Done.

This will convert any Office files to Google Docs, Sheets or Slides format.

Previously uploaded files, however, will not be affected by this setting and will continue to be in the original file format.

Using an Online Excel to Google Sheets Converter

You can also find a lot of Excel to Google Sheets converters online. These converters change an Excel file to xls, cvs or ods format. One good example is

To use this online converter:

  1. Go to You may have to create an account or sign in with Google.
Screenshot for
  1. Click Select file.
Click Select file.
  1. Choose where you want to upload your Excel file from. In this case, we will choose From my Computer.
Choose where you want to upload your excel file from. In this case, we will choose from computer.
  1. Select the file.
  2. Click the convert to drop down and choose xls.
Click the convert to drop down and choose xls.
  1. Click Convert.
  2. Once the site is done converting the file it will save it to your drive.
click Download to automatically open in Google sheets.
  1. If you click Download it will automatically open in Google Sheets.

Exporting Large Excel Files to Google Sheets

One advantage Excel has over Google Sheets is that it can handle more data while Google Sheets has a limit of 1000 rows and 1000 columns.

If your Excel sheet happens to be large then you’re going to have some problems transferring Excel to Google Sheets.

The size limit for files you want to import to Google Sheets is 5mb. If your Excel file exceeds this size then you will get an error message when you try to import it. What you could do is try and remove any empty or unnecessary cells from your Excel file. Alternatively, you can also split your data in Excel into smaller pages and put them in different sheets in the same spreadsheet when uploading Excel to Google Sheets.

How to Export a Google Sheets File to Excel

Converting Excel to Google Sheets is all well and good, but sometimes you have to do the reverse.

This is also quite simple:

If your file is already open in Google Sheets:

  1. Go to File Download
  2. Select the Microsoft Excel (.xls) option.
Download a Google Sheet Document as an Excel FIle

Notice you also have the option to save this file in other formats such as PDF, HTML, or CSV. That’s one of the things that makes Google Sheets so versatile.

If you want to directly convert the Google Sheet to Excel file from your Google drive:

  1. Right-click on the file’s icon
  2. Select the Download option

Your sheet automatically gets converted to an Excel-ready format when downloading.

Compatibility Issues

While it’s great that you can work with Excel files in Google Sheets, Excel is still a lot more feature-rich. Google Sheets lacks a lot of functionalities and you may have some compatibility issues when you work with an Excel file that is converted to Google Sheets.

Google is always in the process of self-improvement and is also working on improving its Office editing features.

But in the meantime, though, you may encounter some compatibility-related issues with certain features.

Before ending the discussion, here are a few incompatibility issues that you might come across when trying to convert Excel files to Google Sheets:

  • If your file is password protected, it will not be possible to import it into Google Sheets
  • Google Sheets does not account for links in your Excel file to other Workbooks.
  • Google Sheets does not support PowerPivot, Power Query or other Data Model features of Excel
  • If your Excel file has macros written in VBA, then these are not accounted for in Google Sheets. You can, however, write your code in AppScript when working inside Google Sheets.

If your Excel file has any of the above elements, either these will be hidden, lost, or worse, altered! So make sure you get rid of the above features before converting.

Google Sheets Formulas That Don’t Work in Microsoft Excel

The following Google Sheets functions are incompatible with Microsoft Excel, so be careful not to include them in a file you intend to send to an Excel user:

  • SORT
  • POW
  • LTE
  • LT
  • JOIN
  • GTE
  • GT
  • GoogleFINANCE
  • EQ
  • ADD

Things That May Break After Converting

Even now that you know how to turn Excel into a Google Sheet, you may run into some issues. When you move from Excel to Sheets, some functions and formatting may unintentionally change. Some of the issues you could run into have to do with:

  • Conditional formatting
  • Macros
  • Interactive controls
  • Split worksheets
  • Certain charts

Most of the time you won’t run into issues, but it’s a good idea to check your spreadsheet when you convert them.

Related: How to Convert Google Sheets to Excel

Why Use Google Sheets Instead of Excel?

Microsoft Excel has been around for quite a long time and is widely being used in companies and offices all over the world.

However, after Google released its counterpart, Google Sheets, a lot of people have started taking a liking to the browser-based spreadsheet platform. Here’s why:

  • While installation of Microsoft Excel costs $99, Google Sheets are available on your regular Google browser completely free of cost (all you need is a free Google Account).
  • Excel has been around longer, and so a lot of people have gotten accustomed to its interface. Google Sheets has taken a lot of inspiration from Excel and their user interface is clean and intuitive (with fewer functionalities of course)
  • Your Google Sheets are saved on your Google Drive, so you can access your files from anywhere using any browser. You don’t need any special software to run it.
  • Google Sheets let you collaborate with others on the same sheet, so you can work with your team-mates in real-time and make changes simultaneously. You can even chat with these collaborators in real-time.
  • When Google Sheets roll out a new feature or functionality, it’s available to all at the same time. You don’t have to worry about versions and backward compatibility of documents with Google Sheets.
  • When you work on a Google Sheet, your files get automatically backed up into your Google Drive, so no more oops moments.
  • You can add code and run APIs using Google Sheets, which adds much more flexibility and functionality to how you use your  spreadsheet data.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Convert Excel files to Google Sheets Without Losing Formatting?

When you import an Excel file into Google Sheets it will typically retain its format. You can convert it by using the open option in Google Sheets or by uploading it to your drive first.

You can also open it using import in Google Sheets. All these methods will upload your Excel file to Google Sheets without losing its formatting.

Can You Convert Excel to Google Sheets? / How Do I Convert an Xlsx Files to Google Sheets?

The simplest way is to import the file into Google Sheets directly with the following steps:

  1. Head to File > Open in a new spreadsheet
  2. Click the Upload tab in the Open a file menu
  3. Click and drag your Excel file into the space and click Open

How Do I Automatically Import Excel to Google Sheets?

You can set the file to save your Excel sheets in your Google Drive. Then you just have to head to the general settings tab in Google Drive and check the box that says Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format in the Convert uploads tab.

Can Google Sheets Open .xlsx Files?

Yes, you can convert .xlsx to Google Sheets by navigating to File > Open > Upload.

Do All Excel Formulas Work in Google Sheets?

No, unfortunately, they don’t. However, Google Sheets is constantly updating their compatible formulas. There are also equivalent ways to achieve the same result. A simple Google search for the function name will help you figure out alternatives.

Learning More After the Excel to Spreadsheet Tutorial

In this article, you’ve learned how to convert Excel to Google Sheets and how to transfer Excel to Google Sheets and back again. As you can see, it’s quite easy to change formats between the two spreadsheet giants Google Sheets and Excel. If you’re making the move from Excel to Sheets, you may want to take a short course from Udemy to make the transition smoother.

Hope you found this tutorial useful!

You may also like the following Google Sheets tutorials:

Most Popular Posts



Sumit is a Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel Expert. He provides spreadsheet training to corporates and has been awarded the prestigious Excel MVP award by Microsoft for his contributions in sharing his Excel knowledge and helping people.

6 thoughts on “How to Convert Excel to Google Sheets (Step-by-Step)”

  1. Your detailed guide is simply wonderful. It is so easy to follow and I very quickly imported my Excel files to Google Sheets. Thank you very much

  2. After convert excel file into Google sheet. notice some existing excel formula appear Error in google sheet.
    Example below
    =SUM(‘1:31’!F8) – existing excel formula

    #REF! – this error after convert to Google sheet


Leave a Comment