How to Copy Google Drive Files to Another User Outside of the Google Apps Domain

If you're moving or transferring files from one user to another within a Google Apps domain, that can be accomplished using a transfer tool within the Admin Console.

And the bad news: if you're moving or transferring files from one user to another outside a Google Apps domain, there is not a native tool for that function.

However, there is a work-around. Here's how it works.

  • Let's pretend you have user@domain1 and user@domain2.
  • You want to move (change ownership) of files from user@domain1 to user@domain2.
  • In the user@domain1's Drive, create a folder called INBOUND and share it to user@domain2.
  • In the user@domain1's Drive, copy or move all of the content you want to move into the INBOUND share.
  • In the user@domain2's Drive, find the INBOUND share and make a copy the file.
  • The copied file is now owned by user@domain2.
  • Unshare the INBOUND folder in user@domain1's Drive.

Now, all of this sounds pretty cool until you notice two things:

1. Google Drive doesn't have a native way to copy a Folder. What an oversight?

2. Google Drive appends a text string of "Copy of" in front of the file. Very obnoxious.

Low, another work-around.

  • In user@domain2's Drive, create a new Spreadsheet.
  • Add an Add On called copy folder.  You'll need to search for it and grant it permissions.
  • In the spreadsheet, select the Add On copy folder.
  • The UI is pretty simple: select the INBOUND folder and process.
  • The script will recurse through the INBOUND folder and make a duplicate of it; it will also recurse the subdirectory structure and re-create subdirectories.
  • The copied INBOUND folder will now be owned by user@domain2.
  • You can now unshare the INBOUND folder.

A couple of notes on the copy folder add-on.

  • It's not perfect. Expect it to crash on long recursive processes.
  • I think the "breaking" of recursive processes may be due to ownership rights of objects within the folder being copied - but I'm uncertain at this point.
  • Instead, try to break down your copying process into batches - handling sub-directories separately.

One day, maybe ... soon? ... Google may feel nice enough to create a means of copying a Folder within the web user interface. Then, one day, by the Grace of Google, we could assign ownership rights outside of a Domain to another Google Apps user. But until then, I offer these work-arounds.