top of page

Troubleshooting Guide: IMPORTRANGE Errors in Google Sheets

In Data Analysis and Management, Google Sheets stands as a powerful tool, offering a plethora of functions to manipulate and interpret data. One such function is IMPORTRANGE, a function that allows users to import data from different spreadsheets. However, like any other function, IMPORTRANGE is not immune to errors. These errors can stem from a variety of issues, ranging from syntax errors to access restrictions.


In this article, we explore the common IMPORTRANGE errors, their causes, and how to troubleshoot them effectively.


Troubleshooting Guide: IMPORTRANGE Errors in Google Sheets

Here are some common IMPORTRANGE errors in Google Sheets and their solutions:


ImportRange Google Sheets Error

ERROR 1: Formula Parse Error

The Formula Parse Error in Google Sheets indicates that there’s a mistake in the syntax of your formula. This could be due to a variety of reasons such as missing quotation marks, incorrect use of brackets, wrong function name, etc.


Let’s consider the IMPORTRANGE function in Google Sheets. The correct syntax for this function is:

=IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "sheet_name!range")

Here’s an example of how you might use it:

=IMPORTRANGE("https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/abcd123abcd123", "Sheet1!A1:C10")

In this example, "https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/abcd123abcd123" is the URL of the spreadsheet you’re trying to import data from, and "Sheet1!A1:C10" specifies that you want to import data from cells A1 to C10 on Sheet1 of this spreadsheet.


If you misspell IMPORTRANGE as IMPORTARANGE, or if you forget to include the quotation marks around the spreadsheet URL or the range, or if you forget the comma between the URL and the range, you’ll get a Formula Parse Error.


Here’s an example of a formula that would cause this error:

=IMPORTARANGE(https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/abcd123abcd123, "Sheet1!A1:C10")

In this case, the function name is misspelled and the spreadsheet URL is not in quotation marks, both of which would cause a Formula Parse Error.


To fix this error, you would correct the function name and add the missing quotation marks:

=IMPORTRANGE("https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/abcd123abcd123", "Sheet1!A1:C10")

ERROR 2: Spreadsheet cannot be found

This error in Google Sheets occurs when the IMPORTRANGE function can’t find the spreadsheet you’re trying to import data from. This is typically because the URL of the spreadsheet is incorrect.


When you use the IMPORTRANGE function, you need to provide the URL of the spreadsheet you want to import data from. This URL is a unique identifier that Google Sheets uses to locate the spreadsheet. Here’s an example of what a Google Sheets URL looks like:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/abcd123abcd123

Here are a few things that could cause this error:

  • You didn’t copy the entire URL. If you miss any part of the URL when you copy it, Google Sheets won’t be able to find the spreadsheet. Make sure you copy the entire URL, including the https:// at the beginning and the unique identifier at the end.

  • You copied the URL from the address bar while the spreadsheet was loading. The URL in the address bar changes when a Google Sheets spreadsheet is loading. If you copy the URL during this time, you might get a URL that doesn’t correctly identify the spreadsheet.

  • The spreadsheet was deleted or moved. If the spreadsheet you’re trying to import data from was deleted or moved after you copied the URL, you’ll get a Spreadsheet cannot be found error. In this case, you’ll need to get a new URL for the spreadsheet.


ERROR 3: You don’t have permissions to access that sheet

This error in Google Sheets occurs when you’re trying to import data from a spreadsheet that hasn’t been shared with you. This is typically because of the privacy settings of the source spreadsheet.


When you create a Google Sheets spreadsheet, you can choose who has access to it. You can make it public (anyone with the link can view), you can share it with specific people, or you can keep it private (only you can access). These are the privacy settings of a Google Sheets spreadsheet.


Here’s how you can fix this error:

  1. Contact the owner of the source spreadsheet: The simplest solution is to ask the owner of the source spreadsheet to give you access. They can do this by adding your Google account to the list of users who can view the spreadsheet.

  2. Ask the owner to change the sharing settings: If the owner of the source spreadsheet is comfortable with it, they can change the sharing settings to “Anyone with the link can view”. This will allow anyone who has the URL of the spreadsheet to access it, including you.

  3. Make a copy of the source spreadsheet: If you have view access to the source spreadsheet but can’t use IMPORTRANGE because of the privacy settings, you can make a copy of the source spreadsheet. The copy will be in your Google Drive, and you’ll have full access to it. You can then use IMPORTRANGE to import data from this copy.


ERROR 4: The range being Imported is Too large

However, if the range you’re trying to import is very large, it could cause an error. This is because importing a large amount of data can take a lot of time and resources, and Google Sheets might not be able to handle it.


For example, let’s say you have a spreadsheet with 100,000 rows of data, and you’re trying to import all of this data into another spreadsheet with the following formula:

=IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "Sheet1!A1:A100000")

This could cause an IMPORTRANGE Error Loading Data because the range you’re trying to import is too large.


To avoid this error, you could try one of the following solutions:


Import a Smaller Range:

Instead of trying to import all 100,000 rows at once, you could import a smaller range. For example, you could import the first 10,000 rows with the following formula:

=IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "Sheet1!A1:A10000")

Split Your IMPORTRANGE Into Multiple Smaller Ranges:

Instead of importing all the data with a single IMPORTRANGE function, you could use multiple IMPORTRANGE functions to import smaller ranges. For example, you could use one IMPORTRANGE function to import the first 50,000 rows, and another IMPORTRANGE function to import the next 50,000 rows:

=IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "Sheet1!A1:A50000") =IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "Sheet1!A50001:A100000")

Remember, these are just possible solutions, and the best solution might depend on the specific circumstances. If you’re still having trouble after trying these solutions, you might want to reach out to Google’s support for further assistance.


ERROR 5: Case sensitivity issues

The IMPORTRANGE function takes two arguments: the URL (or ID) of the spreadsheet you want to import data from, and the range of cells you want to import.


Here’s an example of how you might use it:

=IMPORTRANGE("abcd123abcd123", "Sheet1!A1:C10")

In this example, "abcd123abcd123" is the ID of the spreadsheet you’re trying to import data from, and "Sheet1!A1:C10" specifies that you want to import data from cells A1 to C10 on Sheet1 of this spreadsheet.


Now, when specifying the range of cells you want to import, you need to be aware of case sensitivity issues. In Google Sheets, column letters are case-insensitive, which means “A” and “a” refer to the same column. However, when using the IMPORTRANGE function, sometimes changing the case of the column letters can resolve errors.


For example, if you’re trying to import all the data from column A, you might use the following formula:

=IMPORTRANGE("abcd123abcd123", "Sheet1!A:A")

If this formula results in an error, you could try changing the case of the column letter from “A” to “a”:

=IMPORTRANGE("abcd123abcd123", "Sheet1!A:a")

This change in case might resolve the error. However, this is not a common solution and it’s not guaranteed to work in all cases. It’s always a good idea to check for other potential issues with your formula, such as incorrect spreadsheet ID, incorrect sheet name, lack of necessary permissions, etc.


ERROR 6: Dynamic functions that update on every edit

In Google Sheets, certain functions update dynamically. This means that they recalculate and update their value every time there’s a change in the spreadsheet. Some examples of these dynamic functions are GOOGLEFINANCE, NOW, TODAY, RAND, and RANDBETWEEN.


While these dynamic functions can be very useful, they can cause issues when used with the IMPORTRANGE function. This is because every time these dynamic functions update, they trigger a recalculation of the IMPORTRANGE function. If your spreadsheet has a lot of data or complex calculations, this can lead to performance issues and errors.


For example, let’s say you have a cell in your source spreadsheet that uses the NOW function to display the current date and time:

=NOW()

And in another spreadsheet, you’re using IMPORTRANGE to import this cell:

=IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "Sheet1!A1")

Every time the NOW function updates, which is typically every minute, it will trigger a recalculation of the IMPORTRANGE function. If you’re importing a large range or multiple ranges, this can cause your spreadsheet to slow down or even crash.


To avoid these issues, it’s recommended to use static values instead of dynamic functions in the cells that you’re importing with IMPORTRANGE. A static value is a value that doesn’t change unless you manually update it.


For example, instead of using the NOW function to display the current date and time, you could manually enter the date and time as a static value. This way, the IMPORTRANGE function won’t be triggered to recalculate every minute, and your spreadsheet will be more stable and performant.


ERROR 7: Import Range Internal Error

The Import Range Internal Error is a less common error that can occur when you’re using the IMPORTRANGE function in Google Sheets. This error typically happens when you’re trying to import a single-column range.


For example, let’s say you have a formula like this:

=IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "Sheet1!B:B")

In this formula, "spreadsheet_url" is the URL of the spreadsheet you’re trying to import data from, and "Sheet1!B:B" specifies that you want to import all the data from column B on Sheet1 of this spreadsheet.


Sometimes, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Google Sheets might throw an Import Range Internal Error when you try to import a single column range like this.


A workaround for this issue is to import a range that includes at least two columns, and then use the QUERY function to select the column you need.


Here’s how you can do it:

=QUERY(IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "Sheet1!B:C"), "select Col1")

In this formula, IMPORTRANGE("spreadsheet_url", "Sheet1!B:C") imports all the data from columns B and C on Sheet1 of the source spreadsheet. Then, QUERY(..., "select Col1") selects only the first column (which corresponds to column B) from this imported data.


This way, even though you’re technically importing two columns, you’re still only displaying the data from the one column you’re interested in. And this can help avoid the Import Range Internal Error.


Conclusion

While IMPORTRANGE is a powerful function in Google Sheets that allows for data importation across different spreadsheets, it is not without its share of errors. However, understanding these errors, their causes, and solutions can significantly streamline your data management process.

Comentários


bottom of page