How-To

How to Transfer Ownership of a Document on Google Docs

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If you’re ready to hand over control of a Google Docs document to someone else, you’ll need to transfer ownership first. This guide explains how.

Google Docs is the perfect tool for collaborative work. You don’t need to worry about sharing draft after draft of a document because every version and change is visible in the same file.

Everybody in your team can access that file, making it an excellent way for a team to collaborate and work on an important document. What happens when it’s time to hand it over, though?

If you need to transfer ownership of a document in Google Docs, there are a few ways you can do it. This guide explains how.

How to Transfer Ownership in Google Docs

If you’re working in Google Docs directly, you can transfer ownership of a file in the app itself. These steps will work for users of Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets.

You’ll need to be the existing owner of the file to do this. You can follow these steps on a PC or Mac (from your web browser).

To transfer ownership of a Google Docs document on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook:

  1. Open the Google Docs website in your web browser and sign in.
  2. Open the document you’re looking to transfer ownership of.
  3. Next, click Share in the top right.
    Configuring your Google Docs sharing settings
  4. If the person you want to transfer ownership to doesn’t already have read or write access, use the Share box to share the file with that person.
  5. Once the user has access, click the drop-down menu next to their name.
  6. Select Transfer Ownership from the pop-up menu.
    Transfer ownership in Google Docs
  7. Confirm that you want to transfer ownership of the file by clicking Send Invitation.
    Send invitation to transfer ownership in Google Docs

Google will offer ownership of the file by sending a confirmation email to their Google account email. Once the user accepts, ownership of the file will be transferred immediately.

That user will then assume full control of the file—you’ll no longer be able to remove their access, for instance.

On a Mobile Device

You’re out of luck if you’re using Google Docs on an Android, iPhone, or iPad. You can’t transfer ownership of a Google Docs document using the mobile app. You’re only able to edit access to the file, so while you can make someone an editor, you can’t transfer full control.

As the Google Docs website isn’t built for mobile devices, you’ll need to power up a PC, Mac, or Chromebook to do the job.

How to Transfer Ownership of a File in Google Drive

You can also transfer ownership of a Google Docs file using Google Drive. All documents created in Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets are automatically stored in your Google Drive.

You can transfer file ownership of a file using the Google Drive website on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

To transfer ownership of a file in Google Drive:

  1. Open the Google Drive website in your web browser and sign in.
  2. Locate the file you want to transfer ownership of.
  3. Right-click the file and select Share.
    Share a Google Drive file
  4. If you haven’t done so, provide document access to the person you want to transfer ownership to in the Share box.
  5. Next, select the drop-down menu next to the name of the person to whom you want to transfer ownership.
  6. Select Transfer Ownership in the drop-down menu.
    Transfer ownership of a file in Google Drive
  7. Google will ask you to confirm, so click Send Invitation to proceed.
    Send invitation to transfer ownership in Google Docs

Google will invite the person to take ownership of the file. If they accept, ownership will transfer immediately. You’ll lose the ability to remove control of the file from that person at that point.

How to Accept or Reject an Ownership Transfer in Google Docs

Google won’t transfer ownership of a file automatically. Instead, an ownership transfer request is sent to that person’s Google account email address.

It’s up to that person to accept or reject the request. This prevents incidents where ownership of a rogue file is transferred without permission.

Wait for this email to arrive to accept or reject an ownership transfer in Google Docs. When it does, the email will include two buttons—Accept and Decline.

Email invitation to accept or reject ownership of a Google Docs file

If you choose to accept the request, ownership is transferred immediately. If the request is declined, the invitation ends at that point. The document owner can make another invitation (to the same person or somebody else) or choose to keep control of the file.

Managing Your Files in Google Docs

If you want to transfer ownership of a Google Docs document, the steps above will help you get the job done.

There are other ways to manage your files, however. For instance, you could make a file public and work anonymously in Google Docs to make anonymous changes.

Need to work on the go? You could work in Google Docs offline without an internet connection. Just make sure to sync the changes across the next time you’re online.

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