Convert Excel to Google Sheets: Step-by-Step Guide

Last Modified: July 21, 2023 - 8 min read

Hannah Recker

With over 1 billion end users, spreadsheets remain the most popular business application in the world. As of 2022, the majority of spreadsheet users still leverage Microsoft Excel. But Google Sheets, by enhancing spreadsheet collaboration, is increasingly stealing market share from Excel.

Nevertheless, Excel remains dominant in many sectors, particularly in legacy industries. As a result, even teams that work exclusively in Google Sheets spreadsheet end up encountering Excel spreadsheets.

But that doesn’t mean these teams have to work out of Excel. Google Sheets can easily convert Excel files into Google spreadsheets. This allows them to remain in the spreadsheet platform they prefer.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on the best ways to convert Excel files to Google spreadsheets.

Video Walkthrough: How to Convert Excel to Google Sheets

Excel to Google Sheets: Supported File Types

Since 2007, Excel’s default file format has been the .xlsx file. Before that, the default file format was .xls. Google Sheets can convert both .xls and .xlsx files into Google spreadsheets.

Quick refresher: a .xls file stores spreadsheet data in a single binary file. But a .xlsx file is based on the Open XML format, and stores data as separate files and folders in a compressed ZIP package.

Google Sheets can also convert other spreadsheet files created by Excel. These include:

  • .xlsm
  • .csv
  • .xlt
  • .ods
  • .tsv
  • .tab

Here are the different ways to convert Excel to Google Sheets

Importing data from Excel to Google Sheets

Converting Excel File from Google Drive

Automatically convert Excel into Google spreadsheets

Converting Excel File from Google Spreadsheet

Convert Google Sheet to Excel

How to Convert Excel Files to Google Sheets

Here’s a complete walkthrough on how to streamline the process of converting Excel files into Google spreadsheets.

Convert Excel Files with Coefficient

Here’s a step-by-step overview of how to connect Excel to Google Sheets by using Coefficient.

Step 1: Click Extensions from the top menu of Google Sheets. Select Add-ons -> Get add-ons. This displays Google Workspace Marketplace.

Search for “Coefficient”. Click the Coefficient app.

Approve the prompts to install Coefficient.

Once the installation is finished, return to Extensions on the Google Sheets menu. You will now see Coefficient available as an add-on.

Launch the Coefficient app. Coefficient will run on the sidebar of your Google Sheet.

Step 2: Select Import From… on the Coefficient sidebar.

Choose Excel as your data source.

Import Excel data from One Drive, Google Drive, from a URL, or from your local harddrive.

Let’s import an .XLSX file from One Drive. First, authorize Coefficient to access One Drive. Then select the Excel file you want to import.

Now choose the tab, cell range, and header option you want to import into the Google Sheets file.

Choose the columns and filters you want to add.

The data will appear in your Google spreadsheet. The import will retain all the formatting of the original Excel file.

Step 3: Coefficient automates syncs with your Excel file on predefined intervals, so your Excel sheet data is kept up-to-date in your Google spreadsheet.

You can configure your data to auto-refresh hourly, weekly, or monthly.

Coefficient also enables you to refresh data instantly by clicking the Refresh button at the top of your imported dataset.

Finally, keep your team in the loop by setting up Slack and email notifications for important KPIs and reports.

Now your whole team can stay synced automatically.

Convert Excel File from Google Drive

You can upload an Excel file directly to Google Drive, and then convert it into a Google spreadsheet in a few steps.

First, navigate to your Google Drive homepage. Click New -> File Upload.

upload google drive spreadsheet

Then select the Excel file that you want to upload from your device.

xlsx to google sheets

Press Open, and the Excel file will upload to Google Drive.

excel in google sheets

Click on the file to open it in Google Sheets.

convert excel to google sheets

This will allow you to edit the .xlsx file using the Google Sheets interface. However, if you want to convert the .xlsx file into a Google spreadsheet, you must explicitly save the file as such.

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To do this, click File -> Save as Google Sheets.

excel spreadsheet google spreadsheet

And, voila — the Excel file is converted into a Google spreadsheet.

convert excel to google sheets

Automatically Convert Excel Files into Google Spreadsheets

With the right settings, you can skip this last step altogether, so you don’t have to manually save the Excel file as a Google spreadsheet. You can actually automatically convert any uploads to Google Drive into Google Docs (in this case, Google Sheets).

Here’s how. Click on the Gear Shaft on the Google Drive homepage. Then click Settings.

excel automatic upload google sheets

In the Settings menu, navigate to General -> Convert uploads and check the box. This will automatically convert all of your uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.

convert google docs automatically

From now on, when you upload files in Excel format, they will automatically convert into Google spreadsheets as soon as you open them.

excel data connector google sheets

Convert Excel File From Google Spreadsheet

You can also convert Excel files directly from Google Sheets. This allows you to supplement your Google spreadsheet data with data from Excel.

Here’s how to do it. Open a Google spreadsheet and click File -> Import.

google sheets import spreadsheet

Choose the Excel file you want to import. You can pick files you’ve already uploaded to Google Drive, or you can upload a new file.

upload excel file sheets

Let’s upload a new file. Click on the Upload tab and select an Excel file from your device.

google sheets excel

Once the Excel file is uploaded, you can choose how to import the spreadsheet using the drop-down box.

insert spreadsheet google sheets

Here’s a summary of each option:

  • Create new spreadsheet – Convert the Excel spreadsheet into a new Google spreadsheet
  • Insert new sheet(s) – Insert the Excel spreadsheet as a separate sheet in the current Google spreadsheet
  • Replace spreadsheet – Entirely replace the current spreadsheet with the Excel spreadsheet

Let’s pick Insert new sheet(s). Choose Import Theme to preserve the theme of the Excel spreadsheet. Now click Import data.

import excel google sheets

The Excel data is automatically placed on a separate sheet within the current spreadsheet.

excel files google

Convert Google Sheets to Excel

Also, use Google Sheets to easily convert Google spreadsheets to Excel files. Simply click File -> Download -> Microsoft Excel (.xlsx).

csv xlsx google sheets

This will download the current Google spreadsheet as an Excel file. You can also download the spreadsheet in file formats that are compatible with Excel, such as .tsv and .csv files.

Excel to Google Sheets: What are the Limitations?

In most cases, converting an Excel file to Google Sheets is seamless. The platforms are relatively interoperable for most use cases, and Google Sheets makes importing Excel files straightforward.

However, in certain scenarios, converting from Excel format to Google Sheets format is not ideal, optimal or feasible. Here are some limitations to watch out for:

  • Spreadsheet size – Google Sheets just recently increased the maximum number of cells per spreadsheet to 10 million, still well below the billions of cells Excel spreadsheets can handle. Hence, you cannot upload Excel files with more than 10 million cells into Google Sheets.
  • VBA – Google Sheets cannot use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). VBA macros in Excel won’t work in Google spreadsheets. Sheets uses Google App Script (GAS) for scripting.
  • Links to workbooks – If your Excel file has links to other workbooks, Google Sheets will not be able to retrieve or edit them. Sheets can only access the Excel files you’ve uploaded.
  • Advanced data modeling – Google Sheets cannot implement some of the advanced data modeling capabilities of Excel, including Power Query and Power Pivot.

Now let’s look at the reverse — converting Google spreadsheets into Excel files. In this case, you’re not just losing the collaboration of Google Sheets. Excel also does not support several functions in Google Sheets, including:

  • EQ
  • GT
  • GTE
  • JOIN
  • SORT

If you convert a Google spreadsheet to .xlsx, and it contains one of these functions, you’ll likely have to rewrite the formula in Excel to avoid breakages.

Convert Excel to Google Sheets: Work from the Spreadsheet Platform You Prefer

Google Sheets makes it simple to convert Excel files into Google spreadsheets. On the flip side, Sheets also allows you to easily download Google spreadsheets as Excel files.

Although incompatibility between Excel and Sheets is possible, most users will not run into difficulties during the conversion process. This flexibility allows you to work in the spreadsheet platform you prefer.

And with Coefficient, you can blend real-time data from your business systems with Excel files, CSVs, CRMs and other sources in Google Sheets. Try Coefficient for free now to streamline data analysis in Google Sheets.

Sync Live Data into Your Spreadsheet

Connect Google Sheets or Excel to your business systems, import your data, and set it on a refresh schedule.

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Tired of spending endless hours manually pushing and pulling data into Google Sheets? Say goodbye to repetitive tasks and hello to efficiency with Coefficient, the leading spreadsheet automation tool trusted by over 350,000 professionals worldwide.

Sync data from your CRM, database, ads platforms, and more into Google Sheets in just a few clicks. Set it on a refresh schedule. And, use AI to write formulas and SQL, or build charts and pivots.

Hannah Recker Growth Marketer
Hannah Recker was a data-driven growth marketer before partying in the data became a thing. In her 12 years experience, she's become fascinated with the way data enablement amongst teams can truly make or break a business. This fascination drove her to taking a deep dive into the data industry over the past 4 years in her work at StreamSets and Coefficient.
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