You can only transfer ownership of Google files and folders


Due to this quote, as shown in to How can I transfer ownership of a file in Google Drive that isn't part of Docs? in the past there was no option to attempt transfering ownership of non Google files (PDF, etc.).

However, these days there is. But if you try to use it, it just fails with a "You can't change the owner of this item" message:

Failed attempt to transfer ownership

What is the logic behind this? Is there any way to bypass this error and transfer such an ownership?

  • I don't see the "Make owner" option on my PDF files. Try using Chrome in incognito mode with all the extensions disabled. If the problem persist, please add more details like type of account that you are using (common account, G Suite account), who is the owner of the file, etc.
    – Rubén
    Sep 29, 2020 at 12:49
  • Did use InCognito, common account, I'm the owner.
    – LWC
    Sep 29, 2020 at 17:53
  • What type of file are you trying to transfer the ownership? Is the intended new owner using a commong account our a G Suite account?
    – Rubén
    Sep 29, 2020 at 17:55
  • Many types, including PDF, and common user too.
    – LWC
    Sep 29, 2020 at 21:31
  • 1
    It's quoted in the question already.
    – LWC
    Sep 30, 2020 at 4:56

2 Answers 2


It will be very annoying for a remote tech support to hear that the user CANNOT find an option that is supposed to be right there. In its absence, the user may end up - keep on searching for it; thinking perhaps it's hidden somewhere else...

I think the option's entry should remain there; however it could be grayed out, and should though: display the failure prompt soon after it's selected, instead of waiting for the user to finish entering an email address.


Unfortunatly the answer to this question is simply that is just how Google developers programmed it.

It would be better UX if the menu item was removed from items where it is not applicable, but for whatever reason, that has not happened. Seems this is more of a rant / feature request than an actual question.

  • Why rant? Please consider rephrasing. Read the "is there any way to bypass" part.
    – LWC
    Jan 7, 2021 at 21:13

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