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Move your organization's content to shared drives

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

As an administrator, you can move folders into shared drives, provided you have view access for the folder and you are a manager of the shared drive. You can also control who can move files from My Drive to shared drives in Google Drive and assign a limited admin role to users who need it.

Move folders into shared drives as an admin

Users who have Manager access to a shared drive can move a folder from My Drive to the shared drive. They’re limited in which files they can move, though, so sometimes it might make more sense for an admin to move the folder instead.

The following steps describe how to add yourself as a manager of the shared drive, get access to the folder to move, and then move the folder.

Note: File access might change when you move a folder:

  • All members of the shared drive can view the contents of the folder, including previously hidden files. (Hidden files occur in My Drive when you share a folder with someone but remove access to a specific file in that folder).
  • Users who had a folder directly shared with them before the move can still access the folder. Users with Editor access to the folder before the move have Content Manager access after.
  • Users who had indirect access to a folder and its contents through access to a parent folder may lose access to the folder. Indirect file permissions inherited from parent folder permissions aren’t copied.

To move a folder to a shared drive:

  1. If you don't already have Manager access to the shared drive:
    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 Manage shared drives.
    4. Point to the shared drive you want to move folders to and click Manage members. If you have many shared drives, you can filter the list by shared drive name or other attributes.
    5. Add your admin account to the shared drive with Manager permissions.
  2. If you don't already have access to the folders you want to move to a shared drive, ask the owner to give your admin account Viewer access or more.
  3. Open drive.google.com with your admin account.
  4. At the left, click Shared with me, and locate the folder you want to move.
  5. At the left, expand Shared drives and locate the shared drive you want to move the folder to.
  6. Drag the folder you want to move to the shared drive.
  7. Accept the confirmation request to move the folder to the shared drive. You might get notifications about the following issues:
    • The folder has unmovable items, such as items owned by another organization. To review a list of the unmovable items, in the notification box click Download file list (CSV). The list includes the item name, owner, and reason it can’t be moved. For details, on this page see Unmovable files and folders.
    • You try to move more than 100,000 items at once. If the parent folder is too big, you can create a new parent folder in the shared drive and then move subfolders individually to stay under the limit.
    • The move will result in more than 400,000 items in the shared drive or more than 20 nested folders. For details, see Shared drive limits.
    • You aren't allowed to move folders from My Drive to shared drives owned by external organizations.

Unmovable files and folders

For any files or folders that can’t be moved due to permission or access issues, a shortcut to the item is created in the shared drive to preserve the existing folder structure and the item is moved to the root of the file owner’s My Drive. To avoid major reorganization of folder structure or contents due to unmovable items, a folder move is rejected in the following scenarios:

  • 25 or more items are unmovable
  • 10% or more of the items are unmovable

To review a list of unmovable files and why they can’t be moved, in the notification that appears after you try the move, click Download file list (CSV).

Allow file owners or editors to move files into shared drives

This setting controls who can move a file into a shared drive, either owners and editors or only the owner of a file. Because file ownership changes from the owner to the organization when a file is moved to a shared drive, this option controls who can change the ownership of a file.

  • When Allow users to migrate files to shared drives is checked:
    • The owner of a file can move it to a shared drive where they have at least Contributor, Content manager, or Manager access.
    • Editors can move a file to a shared drive where they have Contributor, Content manager, or Manager access. However, if the shared drive is set so that its files can’t be shared with non-members, then the file owner must be a member of the shared drive.
  • When Allow users to migrate files to shared drives is unchecked, only the owner of the file can move it to a shared drive where they have Contributor, Content manager, or Manager access.

Before you begin: To apply the setting for certain users, put their accounts in an organizational unit (to set by department) or a configuration group (to set for users across or within departments).

  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 Migration settings.
  4. To apply the setting to everyone, leave the top organizational unit selected. Otherwise, select a child organizational unit or a configuration group.
  5. Check the Allow users to migrate files to shared drives box.
  6. Click Save. If you configured an organizational unit or group, you might be able to either Inherit or Override a parent organizational unit, or Unset a group.

Allow a user to move most files and folders to shared drives

If a user needs to move files and folders that they don’t own or have edit access to, and you’re OK delegating admin access to them, you can assign a limited admin role to them. 

  1. Create an admin role with the Drive and Docs Move any file or folder into shared drives privilege.
  2. Assign the admin role to the user.

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