How to upload files using Google Forms

Google Forms is a great product. It’s free, easy to use and popular. However, how can you request files from other people?

Simply take a few simple actions and you’re all set (see below). We also look at common problems you’ll encounter, and what to do about them.

Getting started

Choose the ‘add question’ icon.

Use the 'add question' button to the right of the interface

Now select the ‘file upload’ option.

Choose the file upload option

Now specify whether you only want to allow specific file types, how many files you’d like to allow, and what the maximum file size should be.

Uploaded files will use your storage space, so if you allow large files you may run out of room.

Choose various options

Can people external to your organisation upload files?

The simple answer is ‘no’. Google Forms makes this very clear when you try and add a ‘file upload’ question.

message from Google saying respondents need to sign in to Google to upload forms

Google Forms is a cost-effective way to create forms and quizzes. However, it does have limitations, and this is a major one for some people.

If you mainly would use Google Forms for collecting answers to questions and quizzes, and to collect a few file uploads from people you know (and who have a Google account), then use Google Forms. For this purpose, it does a great job for free.

Can you upload files to a shared or team drive?

This is another ‘no’, as described in their help section. Google Forms makes it easy for you to gather content from people, but allowing them to upload files is an ‘add on’ feature and feels like it.

If you try creating a Google Form located on a shared drive, you will notice that the file upload field is greyed out.

If you are a company, educational college or non-profit who needs a more advanced file upload feature, you’re best looking at other products – more on this later.

Can you embed a Google Form into your website?

This is another ‘no’. When trying to get the embed link for a Google Form that has a file upload field in it, you will get the following error:

error message showing that you can't embed a Google Form with a file upload question

This is an intended behaviour of Google Forms.

Can people upload a folder?

No, they need to upload one file at a time. You also need ensure that the names of files are different from one another or else they will override existing files with the same name.

Upload page software as an alternative to Google Forms

If all these limitations on uploading files is a deal breaker for your company or organisation, then consider using upload page software instead. This software costs money, but offers an easy, professional and secure way to gather content from anyone, including uploaded files and folders.

Upload page software basically allows you to create forms using the usual fields (text, phone, email, URL, checkbox, dropdown, date, and so on), but also provides easy to use dropzones for uploading content, files and data.

Example of a customised form by File Request Pro

With upload page software you can:

  • Allow anyone external to your organisation to upload files without signing in
  • Embed your form into your website using your own subdomain or URL
  • Customise your upload pages so that they fit with your brand
  • Automate reminder messages to save you time

Some upload page software, like File Request Pro, also connects natively with Google Drive. So files are automatically sent to your Google Drive – including shared and team drives – into the folder or subfolder of your choice.

If you already use Google Sheets, then this option will support and streamline your existing workflow.

Example of native integration with Google Drive by File Request Pro

Google Forms vs upload page software: which is best for you?

It really depends on what you are trying to do. If you want a cheap or free way to collect answers from a group of people you know, and who use Google, with a few attached files as well, then Google Forms is ideal.

However, if collecting and organising files from clients, volunteers and suppliers external to your organisation is a priority, then upload page software would be a better fit. It will save you considerable time and hassle, and do the job you need.

Interested in upload page software? Try File Request Pro. See pricing here.