Transfer Drive files to a new owner

As an administrator, you can change who owns files in Drive. 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.

As an alternative, we recommend using shared drives to store files. All files in a shared drive are owned collectively, meaning if one person leaves, other shared drive members can still access the files. This prevents files from being deleted when their owner’s account is deleted.

Learn more about shared drives, including requirements & access levels and how to migrate existing content to a shared drive.

Note: If you transfer ownership of a lot of files and folders at once, it might take some time to see the changes.

Transfer Drive files

Transfer one file

As an administrator, you can also transfer individual files using the Google Drive APIs.

Transfer all of a user’s files 

As an administrator, you can transfer all of a user's files to a new owner.


  • Only files owned by a user can be transferred to another user, who becomes the new owner. 
  • You can also migrate a user’s content to a shared drive. Files in a shared drive are not deleted when a user account is deleted since the content is collectively owned by all participants. 
  • The hierarchy structure of the previous owner is the same in the new owner's Drive.
  • Existing shared documents are not affected by transfer.
  • Some files are not moved:
    • Google Photos and Maps are not transferred.
    • Files and folders in the user's Trash are not transferred, so move files out of the Trash if they should be retained.  Otherwise, files in the Trash are deleted when a user is deleted.
    • Orphan files are not moved, so move them to the user's My Drive if they should be transferred:
      1. In the Drive search field, type: is:unorganized owner:<username>
      2. Move any orphaned files found to the user's My Drive.

Learn more about shared drives, including how to migrate existing content to a shared drive.

Before you begin

Current owner's account

  • We recommend that the current owner's account be suspended.  This helps ensure new content isn't being created or moved in during the transfer. 

New owner's account

Transfer ownership

  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.
    Note: You need the Drive service privilege and the Data Transfer privileges to see this option.

  4. In the From user field, enter the current owner's username and select the corresponding suggested result.

  5. In the To user field, enter the new owner's username and select the corresponding suggested result.

  6. Click Transfer Files

    • The files are automatically moved to the new owner’s Drive. They appear in a folder named with the previous owner’s email address.

    • The original owner can still edit the files, unless their account is deleted or their permissions are changed. Because the files have been moved to the new owner's Drive, the original owner will need to search for the files or access them by a link.

    • Do not suspend the new owner's account during the transfer.

    • An email is sent to the administrator, and to the new and old owners.  The email describes if the transfer succeeded or failed.


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