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The Google Sheets API allows you to manipulate Sheets data from outside Google Sheets. You can manipulate it programmatically using your preferred programming language or through any app or platform that lets you connect to an API. This allows you to use your Google Sheets spreadsheets as databases.

In this post, you will learn all about the Google Sheets API, including what it is, its pricing, and its limitations. You will also learn how the API works, the different connection options available, as well as where to find documentation for your preferred programming language.

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What is the Google Sheets API?

The Google Sheets API is a RESTful interface that you can use to read and write data to Google Sheets. You can connect to it from another app or platform or use your preferred programming language, including JavaScript, PHP, and Python.

Some of the most common uses of the Google Sheets API include the following:

Is the Google Sheets API Free?

Google Sheets’ API is free to use, but usage limits apply to each user. If your app experiences heavy traffic from many users, you’ll see an error message (429: Too many requests). In other words, if you exceed the number of requests, your account won't be charged for the overage.

Google Sheets API Limits

The Google Sheets API has some built-in limitations to protect the system from hackers. These limits or quotas apply to both read and write requests.

Read & Write Requests

The quotas below apply separately to each type of request: read and write.

  • Per day per project: unlimited
  • Per minute per project: 300
  • Per minute per user per project: 60

Time-Based Quota Errors

The Google Sheets API documentation recommends using an exponential backoff algorithm to implement a small delay to resolve time-based quota errors. For more instructions, you can check out the Google Cloud Storage documentation on how to implement the exponential backoff algorithm.

View Quotas

You view and manage your quotas using a variety of methods.

  • Google Cloud Console
  • Google Cloud CLI
  • Service Usage API
  • Quota Metrics in Cloud Monitoring

Request Higher Quotas

If you exceed your quotas, you can request higher ones. However, this process requires that your request meet a set of undisclosed and strict criteria. You will be notified whether your request has been approved or denied.

How does the Google Sheets API Work?

Google Sheets’ RESTful Application Programming Interface (API) allows you to interact directly with your spreadsheets. You can choose whether to code an app or use a no-code solution, depending on your needs and programming skills. No-code solutions include existing apps that allow you to connect to an API, like Tableau or Supermetrics. In order to connect, you will need to enable the API and generate the necessary API key.

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Linking Google Sheets: How to Reference Another Sheet?

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Enable the Google Sheets API

To enable the Google Sheets API, follow the instructions below.

  1. 1. Log in to your Google Cloud Console.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Google Cloud Console
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Google Cloud Console
  1. 2. Click the menu to access “APIs & Services”, then “Enabled APIs & services”.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It AP Is Services
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - APIs & Services
  1. 3. Click the button that says “+ ENABLE APIS AND SERVICES”.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Enable AP Is Services
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Enable APIs & Services
  1. 4. Search for the Google Sheets API, as shown below and click on the result.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Google Sheets API
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Google Sheets API
  1. 5. Click to enable the Google Sheets API.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Enable API
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Enable API
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  1. 6. Click the blue button to create the credentials.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Create Credentials
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Create Credentials
  1. 7. To define the credential type, make sure that you have selected the Google Sheets API.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Select Google Sheets API
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Select Google Sheets API
  1. 8. Select whether you want to access user data or application data.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Data Type
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Data Type
  1. 9. Specify whether you will be using any of the products listed and click “Next”.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Engines Cloud Functions
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Engines & Cloud Functions
  1. 10. Type in the required account details.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It Account Details
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - Account Details
  1. 11. Select the role you want to grant, then click “Done” to finish.
Google Sheets API What It Is and How to Use It AP Is Services 2
Google Sheets API: What It Is and How to Use It - APIs & Services

Google Sheets API Documentation

The Google Sheets API documentation offers Quickstarts with detailed instructions and the code required to connect using Go, Google Apps Script, Java, JavaScript, Node.js, and Python. Additionally, the documentation includes detailed instructions and the code needed for the following:

  • Create Spreadsheets
  • Read/Write Cell Values
  • Update Spreadsheets
  • Date/Number Formats
  • Pivot Tables
  • Conditional Formatting
  • Filters
  • Developer Metadata
  • Connected Sheets
  • Field Masks
  • Google Charts

These instructions and samples are available for various programming languages: Google Apps Script, Java, Javascript, Node.js, PHP, Python, and Ruby.

How to Easily Automate Your Data on Top of Google Sheets?

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Using Layer, you can:

  • Share & Collaborate: Automate your data collection and validation through user controls.
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  • Integrate & Sync: Connect to your tech stack and sync all your data in one place.
  • Visualize & Report: Generate and share reports with real-time data and actionable decisions.

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Conclusion

As you have seen, the Google Sheets API allows you to interact with your Google Sheets data programmatically. You can read and write data to your spreadsheet using other platforms and apps, including ones you build using your preferred programming language. You can then use Google Sheets as a database and run queries and functions from wherever you want.

You now know what the Google Sheets API is and the pricing, as well as the main limitations related to its use. You also know how to enable the Google Sheets API and create credentials from the Google Cloud Platform. Finally, you know how to access quickstart documentation for multiple programming languages and full Google Sheets API documentation and examples for Google Apps Script, Java, Javascript, Node.js, PHP, Python, and Ruby.

Layer Google Sheets Add On
Get Started With Layer Today!

Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds.

GET STARTED FOR FREE
Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Jan 11 2023, Updated Jan 28 2023