Transfer a Drive file from an unknown owner

This page is for administrators who need to change ownership of someone else’s Drive file. To change the owner of a file you own, go here instead.

As an administrator, if you need to change the owner of a Drive file but you don't know who owns it, you can find the owner in two ways. For both, you need the document ID of the file, which you get from the URL. You need a Google Workspace edition that supports either the security investigation tool or Email Log Search. 

Option 1: Find and change owners with the security investigation tool

This approach uses the Drive log events data source in the security investigation tool. Supported editions for the Drive log events data source in the investigation tool: Enterprise Plus, Education Plus

If your edition supports Drive Log events in the Security investigation tool, you can find and transfer ownership all at once. This method is also useful for transferring ownership of a single file when you know who the current owner is.

Use this option if 1) you know the file's document ID (the URL) or the current owner, and 2) the file has been viewed or edited in the last 180 days.

Before you begin

  • The file must have been viewed or edited in the last 180 days.
  • The file must be owned by a user in your organization with a license that supports Drive log events. You can't get information for files owned by users outside your organization.

To find the file and change its owner

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. On the Admin console Home page, go to Menu ""and then""  Securityand thenSecurity centerand thenInvestigation tool.
  3. Click Data sourceand thenDrive log events.
  4. Click Add condition.
  5. Click Attribute and select how you want to find files.
    1. If you know the owner and want to change ownership for one or more files owned by them, select Owner. Then enter the email address of the current owner.
    2. If you know the document ID (you have the URL to the file) of a specific file, select Document ID. Then enter the document ID. You get the document ID from the URL of the file. For example, if the URL of a file is https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LQ_zgy0QDy/edit, the document ID is 1LQ_zgy0QDy.

      Note: For a form, you need the document ID that you get from the URL of the form editing page, not the URL of the live form. The document ID is encrypted in the URL of a live form. If you can't get edit permission for the form, to get the unencrypted document ID contact support.

  6. Click Search.
  7. Check the box next to one or more files you want to transfer to a new owner.
  8. Click Actionsand thenChange owner.
  9. On the first line, enter the email address of the new owner.
  10. On the second line, confirm the action by entering CHANGE OWNER.
  11. Click Change Owner.

Option 2: Find the owner using Email Log Search

Supported editions for this feature: Frontline; Business Starter, Business Standard and Business Plus; Enterprise; Education Fundamentals, Education Standard, Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and Education Plus; Nonprofits; G Suite Business and G Suite Basic. Compare your edition

Use this option if you or the file owner have a license that supports Email Log Search but not the security investigation tool. This option lets you find a file's owner by tracing a share request. All you need is the file's URL so you can request accesses. 

Find the owner with a share request

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" Reportingand thenEmail Log Search.
  3. In another browser window, open the file URL and request access. This action sends an email to the owner of the file. If the file is in a shared drive, the request goes to the creator of the file. If the creator is no longer active or doesn't have access, the request goes to a manager of the shared drive.
  4. In the email log search, in the Subject field, enter Share Request for. Leave the other fields empty.
  5. Click Search.
  6. In the results table, find the row that contains your request and click the subject.
  7. Click Recipient. The email listed is the owner (or creator or manager for files in shared drives).
  8. If you want to change the ownership of the file, review your options to transfer files to a new owner.

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