Google Sheets is great for collaborative work, but sometimes you like using Excel for the initial development. Have no fear, because you can easily convert from Excel to Google Sheets (and vice versa).
If you already have your Excel file, you can easily upload via the “upload” function in Google Sheets.
In a new Google Sheets sheet, click File > Open. You should get this screen:
Drag you file into it or browse for the file on your system (or in your Google docs).
The file is automatically converted to Google Sheets format, retaining the formatting of the original. It even retains the formulae (it wouldn’t be very useful otherwise).
Convert from XLSX on the Drive
If you have an Excel file in your Google Drive as a .xlsx file, you can convert it for a new sheet while retaining the Excel file format on your drive.
Find it in your GD, right click, and mouse over “open with”. Then click “Google Sheets”.
You will see this icon while the file is converted. Once it is finished, it will open just like if you uploaded directly.
If you want to always convert your files to Google’s file format, you can change the default setting.
Go to settings and enable “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format”. Then you will always have Google docs formats.
One caveat against this: if you use Google Drive as a backup, you won’t be able to store Excel files by uploading them (since they’ll automatically convert).
Those are the easiest ways to convert Excel docs to Google docs and get started on your collaboration efforts. There are a few areas of concern, though.
Not all charts are convertible. As a rule of thumb, the simpler the chart, the more likely to be convertible. When I tried to upload some of the new Excel charts, I got the error below. This was originally a waterfall chart, which is new even to Excel in 2016.
A simple one like a bar chart will stay, though its formatting might change. Complex ones like waterfall charts will simply break.
You also cannot convert VBA. That should be obvious, as Google uses a different programming language and VBA is customized to every document. My custom function “tryme” (a simple multiplier) doesn’t work. Furthermore, even if you redownload, it will be lost.
You might also get different results, depending on the formulae differences between Excel and Google, so make sure you know the differences for the formulae you use. For a simple example, see VLOOKUP.
And in Google Sheets:
You’ll also get errors for any linked Excel docs, because the filepath is not converted.
Conclusion of Uploading Excel Files to Google Sheets
Google Sheets is a great way to collaborate, because people can easily edit sheets at the same time. If you have relatively simple uses for spreadsheets and you need a team project, use Sheets. You can convert easily between Excel and Sheets.
However, if you need to do complex things, you need to know the differences. Furthermore, any proprietary VBA or Google Scripts you use for your sheets won’t be able to talk to each other.
Kasper Langmann is the co-founder of Spreadsheeto and certified Microsoft Office Specialist. Kasper loves teaching – and Microsoft Excel. Combined, the result is Spreadsheeto. Spreadsheeto is the place to find actionable, and effective, training in Microsoft Excel. If you’d like to learn Excel too, be sure to check out Kasper’s free Excel training.