Google Sheets importer
  • 04 Jul 2022
  • 6 Minutes to read
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Google Sheets importer

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This article is an overview of a feature that allows you to import an entire Google Sheets file as a new base or import one into an existing base. Note that once you have imported data into Airtable, any changes made within Airtable will not be reflected back to the original Google sheet you used for importing. If you'd like to see how new rows added to a Google Sheet can be automatically added to a table in your base via automations — check out this support article.

Import a Google Sheets file

There are three ways to import an Excel file in Airtable:

  1. Import a file as a new table in a new base.
  2. Import a file to an existing table.
  3. Import a file to an existing base as a new table.

Import a file as a new table in a new base

Starting from the Airtable home screen, select the option to “Add a base." Next, click the "Google Sheets" option in the "Getting started" section on the right side of the screen.

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If you've already begun building and creating in this base and happened to leave the "Getting started" sidebar open, then clicking this button will create a new base. You'll have the open to save or discard the current base you are working in.

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Import a file to an existing table

If you already have a table set up where you would like to import the file, then click the drop-down icon next to the name of the table where you'd like the information to be added. You'll then click the "Import data" option and click "Microsoft Excel."

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Once you select the Sheet a new base will be created. Each sheet in your Google Sheet workbook will be converted to a table in your Airtable base. And, we’ll automatically try to convert data into Airtable field types.

Import a file to an existing base as a new table

You can also add a new table to an existing base by clicking the "+Add or import" button to the right of the last table in your base.

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Some bases contain many tables or tables with long names. In those cases, you may need to scroll far to the right to add a new table and if the base has over 4 tables, then the button will appear simply as a "+" sign.

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Import wizard

Any of the three options highlighted above will open up an import pop-over where you can select a file from your local device or other file sources.

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After selecting a file to import, you'll see the option to choose where this file will be imported. Even though you may have already chosen to import the file as a new table, you'll have the option to switch to an existing table and vice versa.

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After clicking the "Next" button, you will then see a preview of how your data will appear in Airtable as a grid view. Here, you can make adjustments that will automatically show up in the preview window.

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In the GIF above, you'll see that you can:

  • Manually adjust field types
  • Choose which fields (columns) to import
  • Adjust other settings (auto-select fields types and/or use first rows as headers)

If it's your first time importing, then click around and adjust all of the options to see how the import will change. Since this is just a preview of the import, you can't break anything in the base, so don't fear!

NOTE

Can't find the import button? Try resizing your browser's window until it appears.

How data is converted from Sheets to Airtable

When you import a Google Sheet, each sheet in the workbook will be converted to its own table. The sheet name will be converted to the table name. For each sheet, the first row will be treated as field names (similar to our CSV import feature). If that row is empty, a fallback field name will be automatically generated.

Supported cell types and formatting

In Google Sheets, each cell can have a specific type that may or may not have a similar field type in Airtable. Our importer will make a best effort attempt to convert cells to the Airtable field counterpart. Below is an outline of how we handle various cell type conversions when you import a file into Airtable.

Numbers and percents
  • If every data cell in the column is a number, the converted field type will be a number.
  • If every data cell is an integer, the resulting number format is an integer. Otherwise, the resulting number format is a decimal whose precision is determined by the maximum fraction digits of the numbers in the cells.
Currency
  • We only recognize US dollars ($) right now.
  • A column containing values such as $123, $1,234, or ($1,234) will be converted to the Currency field type.
Date and time
  • A column containing values such as 2020-09-28, 09/28/2020, 09/28/2020 18:01, 2020-09-28 18:01 will be converted to Date field type.
  • If any data cell in the column contains a time field, the resulting Date field type will contain a time portion.
  • If every date cell value uses US date formatting such as 09/28/2020, the resulting Date format will be “Local”.
  • If date cell values in the column use mixed date formats (for example, using both 09/28/2020 and 2020-09-28), the resulting Date format will be “ISO”. Unrecognized date formats will be converted to the ISO date format.
  • Time-only cell values such 18:02 are not supported. If a column contains any of these, they will be converted to a Single Line Text field.
Formulas

The type conversion operates on the computation result of the formula. The formula itself is not converted.

Checkboxes

If data cells in the column follow one “convention” to represent true and false, the column will be converted to the Checkbox field. However, conventions cannot be mixed. If a column has both cell value “Y” and cell value “X”, then it is not considered a Checkbox field.Conventions are case insensitive and we support the following:

  • “checked” / “unchecked”
  • “x”
  • “yes” / ”no”
  • “y” / “n”
  • “1 checked out of 1” / “0 checked out of 1”
  • “[x]” / “[ ]“
  • “☑”
  • “✅”
  • “✓”
  • “✔”
  • “enabled” / “disabled”
  • “on” / “off”
  • “done”
Multi-selects

If every cell in the column is a comma-separated string, and does not contain any other punctuations, and no separated token is longer than 20 latin characters (note that it gets tricky with emoji or other language glyphs), and no separated token contain newline character, and no separated token is digits only, and no separated token is repeated multiple times in one cell, the field will be converted to a multi-select field.
Examples that will not be converted to a multi-select include:

  • “foo, foo, bar” ← tokens repeated in one cell.
  • “foo, bar.” ← punctuations other than the comma.
  • “foo, , bar” ← contain one empty token.
  • “fooooooooooooooooooooo, bar” ← a token that contains more than 20 latin characters.
  • “foo bar, 123, baz” ← a token is digits only.
Rich Text

Google Sheets features 2 types of styling: cell-level styling and text-level styling. For example, you can select a cell and make it bold, and that will be cell-level styling. If you select a few characters in the cell and make it bold, this is text-level styling. If any cells in the column contain text-level styling and are not the first column, the column will be converted to a Rich Text field. Only some inline styles are supported, namely: bold, italic, and strikethrough.

Long text

If any cells in the column contain newline characters, the column will be converted to a long text field.

Single-line text

This is the fallback field type if the cells do not follow the rules above.

FAQs

Can I import data from a Google Sheet into an existing table within my base?

Yes, you can! One workflow to accomplish this is to first convert your Google Sheet into a CSV, then use the CSV Import extension to import your new CSV. You could also copy and paste the data from your Google Sheet by following the directions in this article.

What is the file size limit per import?

Currently, the file size is limited to 5MB.


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