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Transfer Drive files to a new owner as an admin

To transfer ownership of a file that you own, go here instead.

As an administrator, you can change the owner of a file stored in Google Drive if the current owner and the proposed owner are in 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.

On this page

Who you can transfer files to and from

Transfer to users who:

Transfer from users who are:

For data security reasons, Google doesn’t support direct transfer of ownership to or from an external account. For other options, on this page see Known limitations and alternatives.

Transfer one file to a new owner

You have a few options to transfer ownership of an individual file:

Transfer all of a user's files to a new owner

The following instructions describe how to transfer ownership when the current owner's account remains active. If you plan to delete the current owner's account, you can transfer ownership of their files when you delete the user. For more information, go to Delete or remove a user from your organization.

Step 1: Prepare accounts and files for transfer

  1. Suspend the current owner's account. This action prevents them from creating or moving content during the transfer. For details, go to Suspend a user temporarily.
  2. Make sure the file hierarchy structure of the previous owner is the same for the new owner. If there are other owners in the hierarchy, you must transfer those files separately. For details, on this page see How bulk transfers work.
  3. Tell the new owner not to add files to Drive during the transfer.
  4. If you want to transfer files that are in Trash, move the files out of Trash. Items in Trash are not transferred. If you delete the user, untransferred files in Trash are deleted, too.
  5. 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.

Step 2: Transfer ownership

Transfer all of a user’s Drive files and folders to a new owner

  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 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.

    You might get an error if the current and new owners don’t meet the criteria listed on this page in Who you can transfer files to and from.

  7. Wait for the transfer to complete. The new owner, the previous owner, and the admin who started the transfer get a confirmation email.

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

  8. (Optional) If you suspended the current owner’s account, restore the suspended user’s account.

How bulk transfers work

A 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 in the previous owner’s My Drive.
  • Transferred Computers folders if the previous owner used a Drive sync client (for example, Drive for Desktop).
  • Shortcuts to the previous owner’s files whose parent folders are not shared with the new owner.

If a file was in someone else’s My Drive but owned by the previous owner, and that file was in a folder that's shared with the new owner, ownership transfers, but the file remains in the existing folder. The file isn't in the transfer folder and no shortcut is created. Sometimes, a separate empty transfer folder is also created.

If no files change ownership, no transfer folder is created.

Previous owner permissions and history

  • The previous owner can still edit any transferred files, unless you delete their account or change their permissions.
  • Even if the previous owner's account no longer exists, you can find a file's ownership history in the file's version history or, for recent ownership changes, the Drive log events.

Known limitations and alternatives

  • You can’t transfer ownership of Google Maps files.
  • You can't transfer ownership to or from an external user, such as a personal Google Account or a user in another organization. This limitation is to protect user and company data from unauthorized transfer and access. Depending on your organization’s sharing policies, you may be able to use the following alternatives.

Alternative 1: Transfer external individual files

For individual files, the user who wants to own a file shared with them can make a copy. However, the copy has a different URL and it must be reshared with collaborators, unless it's a file created in Drive and copied from the File menu.

Alternative 2: Transfer ownership of many external files to your organization

This approach uses a shared drive to change ownership. Before you begin, review shared drive limits and user limits on moving files into shared drives.

  1. Have the user in your organization who wants to own external files and folders create a shared drive.
  2. Have them share a folder in the shared drive with the current external owner. The external owner must have a Google Account or visitor sharing must be allowed.
  3. The external owner moves their files and folders into the shared drive. When the files are added to the shared drive, your organization now owns them.
  4. (Optional) The user in your organization can move the files out of the shared drive and into their My Drive. Note: Moves of many files can take some time to finish. Before users move or delete files from the source or target shared drive, they should check the source and shared drive to confirm that the move is complete. Moving or deleting files before the move is complete can result in data loss or incomplete transfer. 

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