Download a spreadsheet from Google Docs using Python

(Jul 2016) Rephrasing with current terminology: “How do I download a Google Sheet in CSV or XLSX format from Google Drive using Python?”. (Google Docs now only refers to the cloud-based word processor/text editor which doesn’t provide access to Google Sheets spreadsheets.)

First, all other answers are pretty much outdated or will be, either because they use GData (“Google Data”) Protocol, ClientLogin, or AuthSub, all of which have been deprecated. The same is true for all code or libraries that use the Google Sheets API v3 or older.

Modern Google API access occurs using API keys (for accessing public data), OAuth2 client IDs (for accessing data owned by users), or service accounts (for accessing data owned by applications/in the cloud) primarily with the Google Cloud client libraries for GCP APIs and Google APIs Client Libraries for non-GCP APIs. For this task, it would be the latter for Python.

To make it happen your code needs authorized access to the Google Drive API, perhaps to query for specific Sheets to download, and then to perform the actual export(s). Since this is likely a common operation, I wrote a blogpost sharing a code snippet that does this for you. If you wish to pursue this even more, I’ve got another pair of posts along with a video that outlines how to upload files to and download files from Google Drive.

Note that there is also a newer Google Sheets API v4, but it’s primarily for spreadsheet-oriented operations, i.e., inserting data, reading spreadsheet rows, cell formatting, creating charts, adding pivot tables, etc., not file-based request like exporting where the Drive API is the correct one to use.

I wrote a blog post that demos exporting a Google Sheet as CSV from Drive. The core part of the script:

# setup
FILENAME = 'inventory'
SRC_MIMETYPE = 'application/'
DST_MIMETYPE = 'text/csv'
DRIVE ='drive', 'v3', http=creds.authorize(Http()))

# query for file to export
files = DRIVE.files().list(
    q='name="%s" and mimeType="%s"' % (FILENAME, SRC_MIMETYPE), orderBy='modifiedTime desc,name').execute().get('files', [])

# export 1st match (if found)
if files:
    fn = '%s.csv' % os.path.splitext(files[0]['name'].replace(' ', '_'))[0]
    print('Exporting "%s" as "%s"... ' % (files[0]['name'], fn), end='')
    data = DRIVE.files().export(fileId=files[0]['id'], mimeType=DST_MIMETYPE).execute()
    if data:
        with open(fn, 'wb') as f:

To learn more about using Google Sheets with Python, see my answer for a similar question. You can also download a Sheet in XLSX and other formats supported by Drive.

If you’re completely new to Google APIs, then you need to take a further step back and review these videos first:

If you already have experience with G Suite APIs and want to see more videos on using both APIs: