Use Google Sheets to edit Excel files for free in 2021

April 29, 2021
Use Google Sheets to edit Excel files for free in 2021
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

A few years ago, I was on a small startup team. Somehow, I ended up in charge of accounting. The thing is, I’m not an accountant- not now, not then.

I hired a contractor and immediately had Excel spreadsheets landing in my inbox with no good way to view them. Like most startups, we used Google Docs, and none of us had Microsoft Office.

In those days, not having Excel was a huge pain. Have you ever tried reviewing a spreadsheet with macOS preview? It’s terrible.

Thankfully, things are easier now. With Google Docs, you can import and edit your Excel files quickly and easily without so much as a single visit to office.com. Just upload the file, tell Google what to do with it, and you’re done.

Import an Excel file to Google Sheets

To convert an Excel or XLSX file to Google Sheets, open the File menu, select Import and follow the prompts. Here’s a step by step walkthrough:

  1. Open any Google Sheet or create a new one from Google Drive (Pro Tip, to quickly start from scratch, just open your browser and type sheet.new).
  2. Select Import from the file menu.
Shows the screen in Google Sheets to import data
  1. Select the Upload tab, and find your file in the file picker.
Shows the file upload screen in Google Sheets
  1. Choose how you want your Excel file uploaded (to the current spreadsheet or to a new one).
Shows the file import dialog in Google Sheets

Convert Excel files that have already been uploaded to drive

Here’s how to convert an Excel or XLSX file to Google Sheets that's already been uploaded to Google Drive. Find the file and select ‘Open with Google Sheets.’ Then choose ‘Save as Google Sheets’ from the file menu.

  1. In Google Drive, select your Excel file and open it with Google Sheets.
Shows how to open a file with Google Sheets in Drive
  1. Select Save as Google Sheets from the file menu.
Shows how to save an Excel file as Google Sheets

Automatically convert future uploads or documents to Google Sheets

Google Drive has a convenient feature for users who import Excel files frequently, allowing you to automatically convert Excel Spreadsheets to Google Sheets.

  1. Start by opening Settings from the main Google Drive interface.
Shows how to open settings in Google Drive
  1. Under ‘General,’ check the checkbox for ‘Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.
Shows how to configure the setting to convert uploaded files to Google Docs automatically

Once you’ve checked this setting, any compatible file you upload in the future will be automatically converted to its corresponding Google Doc type if applicable. This works with CSV files and many other file formats.

Use Google Sheets add-ons with your Excel data

A great way to take advantage of your newly converted Excel files and data is by using one of the many add-ons available for Google Sheets.

Yet Another Mail Merge: Mail Merge for Gmail - Google Workspace Marketplace
Most popular mail merge for Gmail. Send mass personalised emails in bulk directly from Google Sheets and Gmail.
Form Publisher - Form to PDF - Google Docs to PDF - Google Workspace Marketplace
Form Publisher is a document generator or document merge solution: generate PDF, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint customized documents. Get them approved and signed.


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