If you use a command line tool to migrate your files to Google Drive, you might find that you need to convert a large number of uploaded files to their native Google formats. You might also have uploaded files through the web interface but forgotton to select ‘Convert Uploads’ in the Google Drive settings before doing so.

Whatever the cause, if you need to convert a significant number of files and don’t fancy doing it manually, Folders can help.

Searching for Files to Convert

Before you can convert any files, you first need to find the files you wish to convert. You can use our search command to do this, and there is even a convenient shortcut button to find common Office file types. You will need to convert each type separately, so this process will need to be run three times if you want to convert Word, Excel and Powerpoint files.

Some upload processes (particular from older computers or servers) can result in your Office files (.docx, .xlsx and .pptx) being miscategorised as zip files (application/zip). You can see this in Google Drive as the file will have a different (non-Office) icon, and it won’t open be default in either a preview mode or docs. If this has happened to you, then don’t worry, the search will pick up these files as well by checking file extensions as well as mime types.

Once you have run your search, and you are happy with the results (which will be the list of files you want to convert), you can go ahead and click on the Convert command in the Results menu. If you need to remove a small number of files from the results (as you don’t want to convert them), you can use the small remove icon (×) on the far right of the Actions column to clear those items from the search results. Those items will then not be converted.

Converting Files

Convert Dialog Screenshot

The conversion dialog modal (shown above) has shortcut buttons for common conversions, including various Office types to their native Google equivalents. You should click on the relevant one of these.

By default, the Prefix input box will be pre-populated with *** ARCHIVE ***, which means that each of your source (Office) files will be prefixed with this string after a successful conversion. This feature is useful because it will help eliminate confusion between your old copies of your Office files and your newer Google ones, and also it allows you to keep track of the conversion process (see below). You don’t have to use a prefix, but it is strongly recomended to help make your life easier!

If you would like Folders to create a log of the conversion process, then set the Batch field to greater than zero. Log entries will be written to a Google Sheet after each batch is complete, so for faster results when processing a large number of items, this should be set to a relatively high number (50 is a sensible figure).

Re-Running the Conversion

Conversions will take a significant amount of time (and also network bandwidth) to complete, as each file needs to be downloaded and then re-uploaded to Google Drive. You probably shouldn’t run this sort of conversion if you are on a data-limited connection. If you have a large number of files (thousands+), then it may take hours to complete (depending on the size of your files, speed of your connection etc.).

If you use a prefix (as suggested above), and the prefix is excluded from your search results (this is done automatically if you accept the shortcut defaults), then this operation is effectively idempotent. Once a file has been successfully converted, it is prefixed, and these prefixed files are excluded from the search results. This means that if you ran a conversion of 1,000 files, and you stop the process after 500 (by closing/reloaded the tab or shutting down your device), then the next time you run the search process, it will only return the 500 files that have not yet been converted.

This behaviour makes Folders an ideal tool for long-running conversion tasks, even within your web browser.

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