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 Someone outside your organisation who is a member of and sent messages to a channel in your workspace.


General questions

Who can export and import data?

Workspace owners/admins and org owners can export data from Slack. Workspace owners and workspace admins can import data to Slack. Bear in mind that data imports are not available for the Slack Enterprise Grid subscription.

Note: Only workspace owners and org owners can apply to export data from all channels and conversations in Slack.


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 that you can import, but there is a limit to the amount of data that 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 with planning your import.


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

We don’t support imports to Enterprise Grid organisations. 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 customisations (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 been completed. For step-by-step instructions on installing apps, visit Add an app to your workspace.


Will files be imported?

For a file to be imported, both the user who shared the file and the conversation where it was shared must be imported. However, files that have been 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, 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’ve finished testing, you can delete the workspace.

Note: When choosing import options for members, make sure that you select Create as deactivated users so that 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 that are 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 been 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 the 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 subscription, 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 that they were part of in the origin workspace. This will happen at the very end of the import process, after all messages and files have 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 channels shared with external organisations 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 channels shared with external organisations?

These channels will be imported as public channels, which you can share with external organisations once the import is complete. Messages sent by external users will be imported, but no accounts 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 an export file that contains all channels and conversations. 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 users’ DMs will be imported.
  • Import just their messages: if any user in a DM is set to this, any DMs that they’re part of will not be imported, and nor will any files that 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 that they’re part of will not be imported, and 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 that are available in the first drop-down 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 that 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 their files from the import.

*This option will automatically be selected for external users if you're importing from a workspace with channels shared with people outside your organisation. This option can't be changed. Public messages from external users will be visible in your workspace, but their direct messages and files won't be imported, and no accounts will 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 that 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 their files from the import.


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 that are available in the first drop-down 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 an export file containing all channels and conversations. If you’ve performed an export for all channels and conversations, you can import both public and private channels 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 one: Create or merge user accounts.
  • Phase two: Create empty channels (and DMs, if using an export file that contains all channels and conversations).
  • Phase three: Import messages, threads and files to channels.
  • Phase four: Import messages, threads and files to DMs (if using an export file that contains all channels and conversations).
  • Phase five: Add users to channels, and index messages and files so that they’re visible in search results.

Phases three and four will run simultaneously, and the import will not move to phase five until they are fully complete. It is expected that no users will be 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, such as 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 that are 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 on 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 that are 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 that were 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 on running 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 that you don't need after the import is complete.

If you’re planning on running multiple imports to the same destination workspace, we recommend that you contact 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 that 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 an export file that contains all channels and conversations 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 that I expected, or 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 that you include any examples of what didn’t work as expected, or the error message that you encountered, and we’ll investigate further.