As an administrator, you can change a file's owner 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. You can’t transfer Google Photos or Maps files.
Whether you're changing the owner of one file or many files, start with the following steps:
- 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 how to move existing content to a shared drive.
- Ensure the current user is not on litigation hold.
- Review the new owner's storage use and make sure they have enough. If needed, redistribute the files among several users or increase the user’s storage limit.
You have a few options to transfer ownership of an individual file:
- If the owner is still active in your organization, you can ask them to transfer ownership. For details, go to Make someone else the owner of your file.
- If you don't know who the owner is, the owner isn’t an active account, or you don’t want to involve them, you can change ownership with the security investigation tool or use the Google Drive APIs.
- 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 to a suspended or deleted account. If needed, you can restore a recently deleted user or a suspended user.
- 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.
- Tell the new owner not to add files to Drive during the transfer.
- 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.
- If you need to transfer orphaned files (files that have lost their parent folders):
- Open Drive and in the search box, enter is:unorganized owner:user_email_address.
- Move any files that you want to transfer to the user’s My Drive.
Note: If you transfer ownership of many files and folders at the same time, it might take some time to see the changes.
From the Admin console Home page, go to AppsGoogle WorkspaceDrive and Docs.
- Click Transfer ownership.
- For From user, enter the current owner's email address and select the user from the results.
- For To user, enter the new owner's email address and select the user from the results.
- Click Transfer Files.
- The new owner, the previous owner, and you get a confirmation email when the transfer is complete.
- 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 no files change ownership, no transfer folder is created.
- 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.
- 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.