Transfer Drive files to a new owner

As an administrator, you can change a file's owner in Google Drive if the 2 accounts are managed by your organization. For example, if someone leaves your company, you can transfer the files they own to someone else. That way, you can save their files before deleting their account. Transferring files does not affect who has access to the files. You can’t transfer Google Photos or Maps files.

Before you begin

  • Consider moving the files to a shared drive instead—All files in a shared drive are owned collectively by all participants. If a user leaves or is deleted, other members can still access the files. Learn more about shared drives, including how to move existing content to a shared drive.
  • If you don’t allow users to migrate files to shared drives, suspend the current owner's account—This action prevents new content from being created or moved in during the transfer. For details, go to Suspend a user temporarily.
  • Make sure that the new owner's account is active—You can't transfer ownership if the account is suspended or deleted. If needed, you can restore a recently deleted user or a suspended user.
  • If you need to transfer files that are in Trash, move the files out of Trash—If you don’t, the files will be deleted when you delete the user. Items in Trash are not transferred.
  • If you need to transfer orphaned files (files that have lost their parent folders):
    1. Open Drive and in the search box, enter is:unorganized owner:user_email_address.
    2. Move any files that you want to transfer to the user’s My Drive.

Transfer one file

Transfer all of a user's files

If you transfer ownership of many files and folders at the same time, it might take some time to see the changes.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenDrive and Docs.
  3. Click Transfer ownership.
  4. For From user, enter the current owner's email address and select the user from the results.
  5. For To user, enter the new owner's email address and select the user from the results.
  6. Click Transfer Files.

After a transfer...

  • You, the new owner, and the old owner of the files receive an email confirming the transfer is complete. 
  • If no files change ownership, no transfer folder is created.
  • If files change ownership, a transfer folder is created in the new owner’s My Drive with the following contents:
    • Transferred folders and files that were previously in the old owner’s My Drive. 
    • Transferred Computers folders if the old owner used a Drive sync client (for example, Drive for Desktop).
    • Shortcuts to the old owner’s files whose parent folders are not shared with the new owner.
  • If an old owner’s file was not in their MyDrive but in someone else’s My Drive and in a folder that is shared with the new owner, ownership transfers, but the file remains in the existing folder. It’s not in the transfer folder and no shortcut is created. Sometimes, a separate empty transfer folder is also created.
  • The original owner can still edit any transferred files, unless you delete their account or change their permissions. 
  • Even if the previous file owners' account no longer exists, you can find a file's ownership history in the version history or the Drive log events.

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