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Google Forms: All you should know about the new file upload feature

posted Oct 19, 2016, 2:15 AM by Romain Vialard   [ updated Nov 28, 2016, 2:48 AM by Stéphanie Chhay ]

The file upload option is now available in Google Forms!

Whether you are a teacher who wants to collect students’ homework assignments, a recruiter who needs to get all applicants’ resumes, or a real estate agent who requires important information on a client such as the ID card, you are all looking for the option to include a file upload button in your Google Form, so that your respondents can easily add documents to their form submission.

You might recall those darks days when you had to find complicated workarounds to compensate for this missing feature (e.g. using Google Apps Script and adding some HTML code). This now belongs in the past!

To address this growing need, Google has released a bunch of new features, which include the highly anticipated ‘file upload’ button into your Google Form!

Note: This file upload option is only available for G Suite customers with a Google Form shared within their organization.

What does this new feature look like?

Like any other type of question (short answer, multiple choice, date etc.) that is already available in Google Forms, you will see a new entry called ‘File upload’. As the form creator, all you need to do is to add a new question, and select this option in the list:

In the ‘File upload’ parameters, you can indicate the maximum file size (from 1 MB to 10 GB) and select which file types are allowed:

Once the button is added, your respondents will be able to upload their file to the form submission from the Docs picker. They can either upload a file from their computer or pick one available in their Drive:

Note: For the moment, respondents are not allowed to upload a whole folder. They can only upload a unique file for each ‘File upload’ item in your form (but you can have more than one ‘File upload’ item in your form).
For example, people can upload one resume and one cover letter (= 2 'File upload' questions) for a job application on the same Google Form:

Uploaded files storage and ownership transfer to Google Form creator

For each ‘File upload’ item inserted in your form, a Drive folder is automatically created. By default, it reuses your form question as the folder title:

You can retrieve this folder by going to the ‘RESPONSES’ tab of your Google Form, and clicking ’VIEW FOLDER’:

A link to each file is also visible in this form responses tab, alongside the responses spreadsheet if you have linked a Google Sheet to your form:

If a respondent decides to upload a file directly from his Drive, a copy will be made and the form owner will become owner of the copy. You will be able to track this whole process in the recent ‘Activity’ sidebar of your Google Drive.

The process of the uploaded file ownership transfer works as follows

  1. A copy of the file is uploaded to the Google Form by a respondent
  2. The ownership of this copy is then automatically transferred to the form owner
  3. The copy is finally automatically added to the form owner's appropriate folder

Compatibility of this file upload feature in Google Forms with Form Publisher

Edit (11/9/2016): Form Publisher is now compatible with this file upload feature from Google Forms!

Please consult this documentation to learn how to retrieve answers / file URLs from File Upload questions in your form with Form Publisher.

For the moment, all add-ons for Google Forms are not compatible with this new feature, as Google hasn’t updated its APIs yet.

So if you have included a ‘File upload’ question in your Google Form while using Form Publisher, we will be able to detect it and will display a message indicating that this feature does not work with Form Publisher yet:

This way, you will be warned in advance and you can decide to remove the ‘File upload’ button from your Google Form to make sure that Form Publisher works correctly.

In the meantime, we are in close contact with the Google Apps Script team to know when Google intend to make this feature available and compatible with Form Publisher and Google Forms add-ons in general.

Further updates might come soon, so stay tuned and keep an eye on our blog!