Google Docs: Uploading Files to Google Drive

Lesson 4: Uploading Files to Google Drive


Uploading and syncing files

Google Drive makes it easy to store and access your files online in the cloud, allowing you to access them from any computer with an Internet connection. If you upload files from compatible programs like Microsoft Word or Excel, you can even edit them in Google Drive. Watch the video below to learn how to upload files to Google Drive.

Uploading files to Google Drive

Google Drive gives you 15 gigabytes (15GB) of free storage space to upload files from your computer and store them in the cloud. There are two main types of files you can store on your Google Drive:

  • Files you can edit, like Microsoft Office files, PDFs, and other text-based files
  • Files you cannot edit, like music, videos, compressed archives (.zip files), and most other files

Once you upload a file—no matter what type of file it is—you'll be able to manage, organize, share, and access it from anywhere. And because the files on Google Drive are synced across your devices, you'll always see the most recent version of a file.

You can also preview many different file types, even if you don't have the software required for that file on your computer. For example, you can use Google Drive to preview a Photoshop file, even if Photoshop is not installed on your current computer.

Converting files to Google Drive formats

If you are uploading files you plan to edit online, you will need to convert them to Google Drive format. Converting allows you to edit a file and collaborate with others easily. Only certain file types—like Microsoft Office files and PDF documents—can be converted to Google Drive formats.

Unfortunately, this conversion isn't always perfect. Depending on the level of formatting used in the original document, the converted document could turn out looking quite different, as shown in the example below.

Conversion changes aren't always just cosmetic—you may even lose information from the original file. You should always review a file that's been converted before sharing it with others. Remember, you always have the option to store your files in their original file format if you'd prefer not to edit files online.

Uploading files and folders

It's easy to upload files from your computer to Google Drive. If you're using the Google Chrome web browser, you can even upload entire folders.

To upload a file:

  1. From Google Drive, locate and select the New button, then select File upload.
    Uploading a file.
  2. Locate and select the file(s) you want to upload, then click Open.
    Locating file.
  3. The file(s) will be uploaded to your Google Drive.
    File in Drive.

Depending on your browser and operating system, you may be able to upload files by clicking and dragging a file from your computer into your Google Drive.

Drag and drop file into Drive.

To upload a folder:

Note: This feature is only available if you're accessing Google Drive through Google Chrome.

  1. Click the New button, then select Folder upload.
    Upload folder to Drive.
  2. Locate and select the folder you want to upload, then click OK.
    Browsing for folder.
  3. The folder and the files within it will be uploaded to your Google Drive.
    Folder on Drive.

Converting files to Google Docs format

When you upload certain types of files—such as Microsoft Office files or PDF documents—you'll only be able to view those files. If you want to edit these types of files in Google Drive, you'll need to convert them to Google Docs format.

To convert a file:

  1. Locate and double-click the file you want to edit.
    Selecting a file to convert.
  2. A preview of the file will appear. Select Open at the top of the screen.
    Preview of the converted file.
  3. The file will be converted to a Google document and appear in a new tab.
    The converted file open in Google Docs.
  4. If you go back to your Google Drive, you'll see that there are now two copies of the file: the original file and the new version in Google Docs format.
    the original and copied files

You can set Google Drive to convert your files automatically when you upload them. Click the gear icon, select Settings, then check the box next to Convert uploads.

Enabling convert uploaded files in Google Drive settings


  1. Open Google Drive and upload a Microsoft Office file. If you don't have an Office file on your computer, you can download a copy of our example.
  2. Convert your file to a Google document.
  3. If you used our example file, your screen should look something like this:
    upload and convert practice