Google Drive and Docs Tips

Managing Microsoft Office files in Google Drive Click for larger image and screenshots

Managing Microsoft Office files in Google Drive

If you plan to make use of Google Drive and continue to use Microsoft Office, or any non-native files, it's important to understand how Drive manages file versions.

There are two ways to use Google Drive to manage non-native files such as Microsoft Office, PDF, images and other files:

  • download Drive to your PC or Mac, set up a sync and work in a Windows Explorer window
  • open Drive on the web at

Using the first method actually makes the process easier, as the Google Drive sync takes care of managing revisions very well. For example, if you have an Excel spreadsheet synced to Google Drive on your PC, when you open the file Microsoft Excel will open as you would expect. Once finished with the file, save the spreadsheet as normal and Google Drive sync will re-sync with the version in the cloud. This process adds a new revision to Google Drive, meaning you can use the Manage Revisions feature to track changes made by you and colleagues.

If you have not downloaded Drive on your PC or Mac then the process has a few more steps. Since your document is in the cloud, you will need to download it in order to edit. Once you have edited your document you will need to put it back in the cloud. You could simply upload the document but, in order to have version control, you should use the Manage Revisions feature as outlined below.

Upload a new version of your Microsoft Office file:

  • Select the file in Google Drive on the web by ticking the box to the left of it
  • Expand the More dropdown menu and select Manage revisions
  • Alternatively, right click on the file and choose Manage revisions from the menu
  • In the Manage revisions box you can choose to Upload new revision, see who has uploaded previous revisions, download any revision or delete old versions of the file.

Of course, having multiple versions of a Microsoft Office file (or a jpg, pdf or any non-native file) does eat into your Google Drive storage space - so you either need to set auto delete (uncheck the do not auto delete column) and let Google automatically delete revisions after 30 days or if there are more than 100 revisions; or manually delete revisions yourself. It's complex, but this is why we recommend ditching MS Office and switching to Google Docs!

Let us know in the comments if you any questions about managing Microsoft Office files.

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Troy Fergus
I agree. That's a terrible way to market your product. Ot promote purposeful incompatibility as a reason to change products is terrible.
15 September at 20:09 Reply to this comment
Pat Marriott
Google Drive should allow editing with any software. Saying "this is why we recommend ditching MS Office and switching to Google Docs" is infuriatingly facile and naive. Did you ever hear of multiple users working on the same document? Did you ever hear of Microsoft's very powerful "track changes" option? I'm going back to Dropbox.
11 July at 00:55 Reply to this comment
Blanca Vazquez
how do you download Google Drive to PC?
18 June at 16:40 Reply to this comment
Brenda Hewitt
Why does my excel document look so different in Google Drive?
10 June at 06:31 Reply to this comment
Huub Derksen
There is something very unpleasant going on with Google (Google Drive). I have an EXCEL file uploaded to my Google Drive and when downloaded back my PC, the original Excel format and layout, plus the necessary data disappeared!!!!. How to avoid this? But first of all: How can I restore it? Although, the file can be read in Google Drive Viewer,I donā€™t want THAT! I want to CONTINUE to work with Microsoft Excel. I DONā€™T WANT TO WORK with GOOGLE DRIVE VIEWER! How can I prevent EXCEL files being messed up by Google Drive programā€™s? The interference by Google, hoping that I will use Google Drive Viewer, makes my ANGRY!
08 January at 12:40 Reply to this comment
Huub Derksen it is not good to be angry. Now my anger has subsided, anyone know a solution?
09 January at 08:44
evan greco If you haven't figured it out, Uncheck the option "convert files on upload" or something to that effect.
04 April at 04:50
Kim Brearley
Is it possible for a shared excel file (shared in Drive as well as a Shared excel file) to be used simultaneously as it can on a LAN?
26 November at 00:25 Reply to this comment
Nichole Antin-Gladky I don't think it does. Looking for documentation on this.
10 May at 03:40
Starr Stern
but cant sync saved favorites at internet explorer "? how xmarks in compare to Google drive ? had someone used SFSO for a while ? any bugs ?
11 September at 22:04 Reply to this comment
Chad Slappey
I would suggest using SFSO at to automatically save all of your Office documents to Google Drive no matter where you save them on your computer.
09 July at 02:33 Reply to this comment
Charles Connors Hmmm. Looks like it's still working out the kinks. Great concept, though.
25 September at 19:27


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