Migrate A Google Sites to a Google Apps Installation

After much gnashing of teeth and cries of angst, I was able to move a Google Site to a Google Apps Installation. In the end, it was actually really simple…

The first approach was to use the Google-Sites-Liberation tool, published recently on Google code, which looked very promising. However I soon found 2 issues with our particular domain (This one and this one) which unfortunately prevented me from using the tool. I also didn’t have much time to devote to debugging it. Desperate, I pieced together the following method through a few inferences and forum posts. It’s pretty simple: Copy the site from your account to your apps account!

You’ll need to be an “owner” of the site you’re trying to migrate to do this, and will probably need GMail enabled on the destination apps installation, here are the steps:


1. Log into the google site you want to migrate and bring up sharing properties.


Next, share the site to your Google Apps account’s e-mail address



2. Log into your Google Apps GMail and you should find an e-mail telling you that you’ve been added as an owner to the original site:


3. Click on the link (you may want to sign out of your original GMail account here so that you enter the site as your Apps identity). You should see your Apps e-mail address in the upper right, not your GMail address. If you see the GMail address, sign out and then click the link again from your Apps GMail.

4. click on “More actions” then “Manage Site”




5. Click on General in the left link bar.


6. On that page, click “Copy This Site”


7. The dialog box for copying should be for your Apps domain, not for regular Google Sites, it should look something like this (With your apps installation name where I’ve blacked out):


8. Click Copy Site (Unchecking revisions if you have a lot of them, and site members if you don’t want them), and you should now have an exact copy of the Sites site in your Apps installation!

9. You’ll probably want to close off editing of the old site to the new, if applicable to you. Now pop some champagne and enjoy!


  1. AWESOME! – google said it couldn’t be done but this works

    BTW – make sure your new Google apps email address is signed up for Google groups access otherwise it doesnt work!

  2. Thank you very helpful. Only additional comment when moving from a gmail google site to a google apps standard site name the file www. You can rename it later,but the address is http:/sites.google.com/a/site-name/www .

  3. Thanks a lot, it was very helpful I have to transfer my Sites to Google Apps and I was wondering which solution can work best : Google Liberation Tools or the copy the site. Your post save me a lot of testing.

  4. Jon, THANK YOU for posting this – I was able to copy the original site to Google Apps. I used the workaround steps (not the liberation tool). Not sure why, but the first time I shared the site to my email address as owner, the copy did not work. Possibly because it was a new Google App account, and I had not validated domain ownership yet ? In any case I validated ownership, then removed the shared owner, and added it again, and then the copy worked perfectly.

  5. Thanks!

    I searched around for this, and read in forum that you have to copy and paste manually.. But your workaround works, and is just what i need!

  6. Fantastic! Thanks for the information! Thanks also to Mark Nicholls for the tip about naming it www. It was the only way I could get it to be seen as the main domain site.

  7. Thank you all! This is super useful. Now if I can get it to work!

    Steve and Mark,

    I obtain a 403forbidden error when I click copy this site. I suspect has to do with fact that I’m think and dont understand either of your comments. Could you please be more specific as I dont see in my Google apps control pannel where to set up for groups, and I don’t know where and at which point I get to name my file to include www.

    thank you in advance for your help.

  8. Just wanted to say thanks for this, been trying to work out how to do it for a while and these instructions worked perfectly. Thank you!

    1. Sorry to hear that noteabovetherest – what isn’t working for you? Make sure you’re signed into the correct accounts, sometimes that can cause it to appear not to work.

  9. THANK YOU!!! I was so desperate I would have to redo the entire website!!! 🙂 Very happy now, definetly time for champagne!!! xxx Carina

  10. Jon, I am so glad I stumbled across this post! Got it all done in a few minutes, whereas I had spent at least over an hour a few months ago when I was looking to do this (and gave up)

  11. This became critically important when Google Sites turned off custom URLs for some reason, trying to fix an issue. They’ve been working on the problem for 2 weeks, and I’m giving up and moving to Apps.

  12. Hi Jon. This is really helpful, thank you. I have a question for you. The Google site I have is for a PTA group here in the UK. I bought a domain name to map to, but obviously this isn’t currently working.
    If we want to now create a Google Apps account, by following your instructions, what does this mean for us? Having looked at the blurb, it seems to be very much geared up towards businesses, rather than voluntary organisations. I am confused about what it wants to know on initial registration about the domain name we would like to use with Google Apps. Is this the one we bought? Is this one we create with Google?? We don’t want to pay for anything else. Do we have to ensure we don’t use the registration details we used for our original Google account?
    Going down the education route for G Apps isn’t an option yet, as we would need the school involved.
    Sorry for all the questions, but you seem like a knowledgable guy!

    1. Nikki – I actually wrote these instructions using Google Apps for Education, so this technique should work for both Google Apps for Business and the Google Apps for Education product. To get one of these, you need a .edu address (or I maybe a .ac.uk, not sure). If your school has one of these, and can create a subdomain for you (i.e. pta.something.edu) you can use that to sign up with Google Apps and get the Education product. Otherwise you’ll need to buy a domain and point it to Google Apps (You can buy it from anywhere that sells domains).

  13. Thanks for sharing this, but the above method will unfortunately erase all of the original website’s page rank. Having two pages with the same content is a big big mistake; blanking the original content (or letting it age) without any 301 redirects is even worse 🙁

    1. You’re correct as far as SEO goes, however this method was never designed for that – it was simply for users who are transitioning from one Google account to another (i.e. GApps), and as far as I know, this is still the only way to copy a site. I guess we just need to get Google to allow 301 redirects for the old URL.

  14. Your guidelines were brilliant. Wished I had seen these earlier on, have spent many long nights trying to solve this issue. However, on one of your pointers it states input apps domain of which i have and now I have a very long duplicated domain https://sites.google.com/a/###########.co.uk/www-############-co-uk/. How can I shorten this? As my domain is associated with my google apps account, I take it that my next step is to map my domain purchased to the above website? Sorry to ask but a complete beginner that is learning fast. Any pointers would be much appreciated as I am loving this new learning curve.

  15. Thanks for posting this article – works like a charm for me. It is a solution that’s simple, but works – I like that :D.

  16. Hello Jon W. Thank you very much for this guide. It has been very helpful and time saving.

    Erik, teacher, Aalborg, Denmark

  17. Hi Jon, I am trying to follow your instructions. I created a website for another google user under my personal google account and now I want to copy the site to his google apps account. I figure this is the only way, the domain will point to the site – it does not right now although I mapped it successfully. I invited the google apps user as you described and made him an owner of the site. I click on the link in the notification email he received and it brings me to the website but not to google sites. I cannot edit anything. Any advice?

    1. If it’s just the website but no editing interface, try clicking on the “Log In” link at the very bottom of the page (In the Google Links section). That should let you log in as the new author and access the editing interface.

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