The rules around transferring ownership of a Google Document to another user appear to have recently changed, so I'd like some clear answers around what is and isn't possible.

My testing indicates that:

  • It is not possible to transfer ownership of a Google Document from one Gmail account to another.
  • It is possible to transfer ownership of a Google Document from one Google Apps account to another in the same domain.
  • It is not possible to transfer ownership of a Google Document from a non-Gmail Google account to a Gmail Google account.
  • It is (sometimes) possible to transfer ownership of a Google Document from a Gmail Google Account to a non-Gmail Google Account (not a Google Apps account).

This last finding confuses me a lot and is the reason I suspect I don't understand what's going on here, thus prompting my question!

I strongly suggest users test their answers before replying to this question. A lot of the online documentation (both Google and third party) appears to be out of date, non-specific or inaccurate. That's another reason I'm asking here...

Note that I am asking about changing ownership using the web interface. I am aware there are workarounds, such as downloading and reuploading documents, making copies, using third-party tools like Migrator etc. These are all interesting, but not the focus of this question.

1 Answer 1


Pertaining to your question, I shall answer according to the sequence of points given above:

  • Correct. It is not possible to transfer ownership of the document. You can share the document using the first account and get the second account to create a copy of it on Google Drive and delete the original file.
  • Correct. There is a feature in the Google Apps Domain panel that allows domain administrators to easily copy everything in the Google Drive of one account to another. The only limitation is that it must be within the same domain.
  • Correct. As per point #1, it is already not possible to transfer ownership of documents between accounts, whether it is an @gmail.com or not account.
  • Incorrect. It is not possible to even transfer ownership from one account to another. However, you can do the same thing as pointed out in point #1 by sharing the document and creating a copy using the second account.

If you would like to transfer ownership of documents entirely using the web interface, I would strongly suggest that you either use third-party tools, or share everything in the Google Drive of the original account with the destination account, and create a copy of everything shared just within Google Drive.

  • Thanks for the answer, but I'm interested that your tests showed different results for the fourth situation from mine. Yesterday I transferred ownership several times from a Gmail account to a non-Gmail account. Can you give more details about how you tested this?
    – Adam
    Apr 21, 2013 at 7:21
  • Hi, I would actually be even more interested if you share with us how you managed to transfer ownership of your documents from a Gmail account to a non-Gmail account. I never heard of a direct way of making this possible.
    – Hydra
    Apr 21, 2013 at 13:06
  • Just the usual method. I shared the document with a non-Gmail Google account (yahoo.com) and then changed that account to 'Is Owner'. As I wrote in my question, it's strange that it works, because I don't think it was like that before. Anyway, how did you test it?
    – Adam
    Apr 21, 2013 at 15:10
  • Oh, so you are referring to an account that isn't really using Google Drive. I was trying to refer to transferring of ownership from a Google Account to a Google Apps account. Sorry about the confusion.
    – Hydra
    Apr 21, 2013 at 15:12
  • Ah, I see how we got confused. Apologies for the lack of clarity in my question - I've edited it. Part of the problem is that there are (at least) three types of accounts here: (1) Gmail accounts (2) Google Apps for Domains accounts (3) Google Accounts with non-Gmail, non Google Apps for Domains addresses. I'm not sure what a good way to refer to (3) is!
    – Adam
    Apr 21, 2013 at 15:26

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