FAQ: Import data from one Slack workspace to another

Using Slack’s import and export tools, you can export member, message, and channel data from one workspace and import it to another. You’ll find answers to common questions about imports below, so read on to learn more. 

Before you get started

There are a few terms to know when preparing to run a Slack import:

Term  Definition
Merging workspaces  Moving data from one workspace to another with the Slack export and import tools.
Origin workspace  The workspace that you’re exporting data from.
Destination workspace  The workspace that you’re importing data to.
External user  A member of an external organization who has access and sent messages to a shared channel in your workspace.


General questions

Who can export and import data?

You must be a Workspace Owner or Workspace Admin to export or import data in Slack.

Note: Only Workspace Owners can apply for access to Corporate Exports.


How do I merge my Slack workspaces?

To merge your workspaces, export user and channel data from the origin workspace, then use Slack's import tool to move this data to the destination workspace. For step-by-step instructions, visit Import data from one Slack workspace to another.


Is there a maximum amount of data that I can import to a Slack workspace?

There isn’t a maximum amount of data you can import, but there is a limit to the amount of data the tool can process at once. You may need to split your export file into multiple date ranges and run multiple imports, or consider importing less data. If you’re having any trouble, contact us for help planning your import.


Can I use the Slack imports tool in an Enterprise Grid organization?

We don’t support imports to Enterprise Grid organizations. As an alternative, you can import data to a separate workspace, then migrate that workspace to your org. If you need to import an export file from your Enterprise Grid org, please contact us for help.


Will my workspace settings and preferences be imported?

No. Workspace settings, preferences, access and security configurations, and other customizations (e.g., user groups, emoji, profile fields, and channel prefixes) must be set up in the destination workspace.


Can I import apps?

No, apps must be set up in the destination workspace after the import has completed. For step-by-step instructions on installing apps, visit Add an app to your workspace.


Will files be imported?

To be imported, both the user who shared the file and the conversation where it was shared must be imported. However, files added to Slack via apps (e.g., Google Drive, Box, etc.) will never be imported.


Will pinned and saved items be imported?

Pinned messages will be imported along with their corresponding channels. Users’ saved messages and files will not be imported.


Can I test an import?

To test the import process, you can create a new workspace using the free version of Slack. Upload your export file to the new workspace to view and test the import options.

Testing the import process won't provide a reliable time estimate for how long your import will take on another workspace, as the conditions and data sets may vary. When you're done testing, you can delete the workspace.

Note: When choosing import options for members, be sure to select Create as deactivated users so people don't receive invitations to join your test workspace.


Importing users

How are users imported to Slack?

After you upload your export file, you can choose how you import users. You can set users to merge with accounts in your destination workspace or invite users as new Slack members. You can also create accounts for deactivated users or choose not to import certain users at all.


Will a user's role transfer from the origin workspace to the destination workspace?

This depends on how you import the user. It’s not possible to import users as Workspace Owners or Workspace Admins. If you merge users, they will retain their roles in the destination workspace. Any users imported with the Import and invite to Slack option will be members by default. Once your import is complete, a Workspace Owner or Workspace Admin can change the role of any member in the workspace.

Note: Wait until your import has completed before changing user roles. Changing user roles in the destination workspace while the import is running may cause it to fail.


How do I import guests from the origin workspace?

It’s not possible to merge a user into an existing guest account and guests can only be imported as full members or deactivated members. Once your import is complete, you can convert the member to a guest, or reactivate the member as a guest.


Can I prevent users from accessing the destination workspace before the import is complete?

You can choose to import users as deactivated users and reactivate them when the import is complete.

Note: There is no bulk action to reactivate members’ accounts, so you’ll need to reactivate members one at a time. If your workspace is on the Plus plan, you can use SCIM provisioning to do this more quickly.


Will users automatically be added to channels?

If both the user and the channel are set to be imported, the user will be added to the channel they were a part of in the origin workspace. This will happen at the very end of the import process, after all messages and files are finished importing.

Note: The person performing the import may be added to channels and appointed as the channel creator.


Can I import external users?

External users who have sent messages in shared channels in the origin workspace will not be visible in the user import options and cannot be imported. Their messages will automatically import if the corresponding channels are also imported, but no user accounts can be merged or created in the destination workspace. Additionally, direct messages (DMs) between external users and members of the origin workspace cannot be imported.


Importing channels

How are channels imported to Slack?

After you upload your export file, you can choose how you import channels. You can merge channels from your export file with existing public channels in the destination workspace, or you can create new public or private channels. To skip importing certain channels, select Don’t import.

Note: It is not possible to merge channels with an existing private channel.


Can channels be merged into existing channels on the destination workspace?

You can merge channels in your export file with existing public channels in the destination workspace. Messages will be imported chronologically, so they may break up the flow of existing conversations in the destination channel.


Can I import some channels and not others?

Yes. You can set certain channels to Don’t import, while setting other channels to Merge with existing channel, Create new public channel, or Create new private channel.


Can I import shared channels?

Shared channels can be imported, but not as shared channels. They’ll be imported as public channels, which you can share with another organization once your import is complete. Messages sent by external users will be imported, but no account will be created for these users on the destination workspace.


Can I import archived channels?

Yes, but archived channels will be unarchived once imported. Once the import is complete, you can archive these channels again in the destination workspace.


Can I import direct messages?

You can only import direct messages (DMs) from a Corporate Export file. In order for a DM to be imported, all the users in the DM must be imported to the destination workspace. In other words, how you choose to import users will affect which DMs are imported:

  • Merge users, Import and invite to Slack, Import as deactivated: If all users in the DMs are set to one of these options, the user’s DMs will be imported.
  • Import just their messages: If any user in a DM is set to this, any DMs they’re a part of will not be imported, nor will any files they’ve shared. Only messages sent in channels will be imported to Slack.
  • Don’t import: If any user in a DM is set to this, any DMs they’re a part of will not be imported, nor will their messages or files in channels.


Setting up an import

What are the batch import options for users?

You can apply a batch action for all users before starting your import. Keep in mind that if you change the batch action, that import option will apply to all users and overwrite any defaults or individual users’ settings. Here are the batch actions available in the first dropdown menu:

  • Merge users
    Merge accounts that have the same email address.
  • Import as new users and invite them to Slack
    Add users from the export file as new members of your Slack workspace.
  • Import as deactivated users
    Add users’ messages to Slack and associate them with a deactivated account. When you’re ready, you can reactivate these users so they can start using their new workspace.
  • Don’t import these users – just their messages
    Import users’ messages to Slack and associate them with their names, but don’t create accounts for them.*
  • Don’t import these users or their messages
    Exclude users, their messages, and files from Slack.

*When importing data from a workspace with shared channels, Don’t import these users – just their messages will automatically be selected for external users and this cannot be changed. Their public messages will be visible in your workspace, but their direct messages and files will not be imported, nor will accounts be created for them.


What are the individual import options for users?

You select an option for an individual user before starting your import. Here are the individual import options available:

  • Merge users
    Merge user with an existing account on the destination workspace.
  • Import and invite to Slack
    Add users from the export file as new members of your Slack workspace.
  • Import as deactivated
    Add users’ messages to Slack and associate them with a deactivated account. When you’re ready, you can reactivate these users so they can start using their new workspace.
  • Import just their messages
    Import users’ messages to Slack and associate them with their names, but don’t create accounts for them.
  • Don’t import
    Exclude users, their messages, and files from Slack.


What are the batch import options for channels?

You can apply a batch action for all channels before starting your import. Keep in mind that if you change the batch action, that import option will apply to all users and overwrite any defaults or individual channels’ settings. Here are the batch actions available in the first dropdown menu:

  • Merge channels with existing Slack channels
    Merge channels with existing public channels.
  • Create new channels, maintaining privacy
    Create channels and carry over privacy settings from your other workspace.*
  • Create new public channels
    Create public channels regardless of previous channel privacy settings.
  • Create new private channels
    Create private channels regardless of previous channel privacy settings.
  • Don’t import these channels
    Exclude channels, and their messages and files, from your workspace.

*This only applies to public channels, unless you’re importing a Corporate Export file. With a Corporate Export file, both public and private channels can be imported to your destination workspace. You can also choose to import direct messages at this stage.


What are the individual import options for channels?

You select an option for an individual channel before starting your import. Here are the individual import options available:

  • Merge channels with existing Slack channels
    Merge channels with existing public channels.
  • Create new public channels
    Create public channels regardless of previous channel privacy settings.
  • Create new private channels
    Create private channels regardless of previous channel privacy settings.
  • Don’t import
    Exclude channels, and their messages and files, from your workspace.


Running an import

How does Slack process imports?

Slack imports are broken up into phases, and processed in this order:

  • Phase 1: Create or merge user accounts.
  • Phase 2: Create empty channels (and DMs, if using a Corporate Export file).
  • Phase 3: Import messages, threads, and files to channels.
  • Phase 4: Import messages, threads, and files to DMs (if using a Corporate Export file).
  • Phase 5: Add users to channels and index messages and files so they’re visible in search results.

Phases 3 and 4 will run simultaneously, and the import will not move to phase 5 until they are fully completed. It is expected that no users are added to channels until the very end of the import. You’ll receive an email when the import is complete, so you don’t need to keep the import page open in your browser.


Can users work in the destination workspace while the import is running?

Yes. Users will be able to access the destination workspace and continue working in it while an import is running. However, users should refrain from taking any channel management actions, such as changing channel names, deleting channels, or converting channels to private or shared. Similarly, Workspace Owners and Workspace Admins should not take any user management actions, like changing members’ roles, editing members’ email addresses, or activating or deactivating accounts. Taking any of these actions can cause the import to fail.


How long will my import take?

That depends on the number of channels, users, and files being imported rather than the size of an export file. We cannot provide an estimate for how long an import will take.


Can I cancel an import?

Yes – click the Reverse Import button to cancel and reverse an import. This action will remove imported messages, files, and any channels created by the import that haven’t had new messages sent in them. New user accounts created during the import cannot be removed, but they can be deactivated.

Tip: If you decide to run a new import after reversing one, you can set users to merge with the existing accounts created by your previous import.


Can I run multiple imports to the same workspace?

We always recommend a single import when merging one workspace with another, but there may be circumstances where you need to perform multiple imports. For example, if your exports are too large for the import tool to process, you can download multiple export files, each with a different date range, and perform multiple imports using those files.

If you’re planning to run multiple imports, keep the following in mind:

  • Channels can be merged with existing public channels without creating duplicate message content. If the channel names do not match exactly, you’ll need to manually set them to merge.
  • Channels can't be merged with existing private channels in Slack. Instead, you can import them as new private channels. This may result in two private channels in the workspace: one from the first import (e.g., #privatechannel) and one from the second import (e.g., #privatechannel2). Archive the channel you don't need after the import is complete.

If you’re planning to run multiple imports to the same destination workspace, we recommend contacting us to review your import plan with our team.


Why was I added to an imported channel that I hadn’t joined in the origin workspace?

Channels are created at the beginning of the import with a single channel creator added to them. If the channel creator from the origin workspace is not imported, the person running the import will automatically be added to the channel and listed as the creator. The rest of the channel members will be added during the last phase of the import.


Troubleshooting imports

What do I do if I can't upload my export file?

The most common problem when uploading your export file is that the file has been unzipped, uncompressed, or altered. Make sure that you’re uploading the original zip file you downloaded from the Slack export tool and that it has not been edited.


What can I do if my export file link isn't working?

If you’re having trouble uploading the link to your export file, make sure that you’re using a public direct download link. To check if your link is public, open it in an incognito or private browser window. Your link should trigger a direct download rather than open a web page that prompts you to enter a passphrase.


Why were some messages not imported?

To import a message, both the user who sent it and the channel where it was sent must be imported. For example, if you set all channels to Create new public channel and you set all users to Don’t import, the channels will be imported without messages.

If you used a Corporate Export file and chose to import direct messages (DMs), all users in a DM must be imported. If you’ve chosen Import just their messages or Don’t import for any of the users, their DMs will not be imported.

Similarly, any DMs that include external users from your origin workspace will not be imported. External users will be automatically imported as Import just their messages, and will not have an account created on the destination workspace.


What if data wasn’t imported the way I expected or if my import failed?

The best option would be to reverse the import, and run a new import after you’ve corrected the cause of the error. If you’re not sure what caused the error, you can contact us for help. Make sure to include any examples of what didn’t work as expected, or the error message you encountered and we’ll investigate further.