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How to covert PDF file to Excel

Coverting a PDF to excel is a little more tricky than the other way around. To convert TO excel is simply a matter of opening your spreadsheet, and choosing the convert to pdf button. But to do it the other way, you either need some desktop software, or use an online service. We will look at both options on this page.

Convert Excel to PDF Online

Regardless of whether you choose to do this yourself, or use an online service, the basics of starting with a good, well formatted file applies. I’m sure you have heard the old saying, “you can’t makea silk purse out of a sows ear”. Or as I prefer to say, “you can’t make honey out of dogshit”. Well, the same applies here, crap in, crap out. So do make sure you have taken time to tidy up your file, get rid of extra sheets, and so on.

There are several conversion services online, and frankly, I don’t trust many of them. And as you need to supply your email to receive the converted file, you need to be able to trust them.

I did try one, using a throwaway email. And guess what, it wasn’t long until that email addy began to get spammed. It was simple for me to delete the email address, but what if I hadn’t thought about it, and supplied my main email? I’m sure that’s what they are counting on. And no, I won’t mention which online “service” I used.

My Favorite Free Online PDF To Excel Converter

This uses basically the same system as is found in Nitro PDF Professional.

I used a test spreadsheet – the same one as I have used in the desktop software further down the page. To convert the PDF, I visited the PDF To Excel Online website. It’s a reasonably complex spreadsheet, with pivot tables, embedded calculations etc.

As you can see, there are only 3 simple steps, then you sit back and wait for your file to be emailed. The file took around 5 minutes to arrive, and the results were better than I expected.

I’m not saying it was perfect, as it wasn’t. But the original pdf (which has been converted from excel) wasn’t a great one to use for this test. It was just toooo complex. But the online converter did at least preserve all information, which it placed into 12 seperate sheets, named table 1, table 2 etc.

Im going to have a lot of tidying up to do, consolidating the info back into the correct sheets, adding back the calculations and so forth. But at least all the data is there, the formatting is as close as I can reasonably expect, and I have something I can work with. I would assume that with a simpler spreadsheet, the results would have been even better.

The files were….original Excel SS, 250kb, that created a PDF of 120kb, and the Excel SS I received back from the online service was back at 250kb. So no big blowouts in file size.

Using Desktop Software To Convert PDF To Excel

Open your PDF in Nitro PDF Professional, select the “Create And Convert” tab, then the “To Excel” button.

While the online version is based on this system, the desktop software has some additional options. One of those, is the ability to take multiple PDF’s and combine them into one Excel file.

Missing SKU111.CAB

As the file was converting, I was informed that I was missing a file, SKU111.CAB, and that it needed to be installed from my original Office discs. Okay, so I don’t have these anymore, it’s an older version of 2003, and I will be updating it soon.

And then a funny thing happened….

Even without this file, the conversion still took place. However, it didn’t save as an .xls, instead it saved as .xml But it opened in Excel, and looked just like a spreadsheet, identical to the xls file I received from the online converter. I changed the file extension to .xls, and had no ill effects that I could see.

So it seems that if you have that file installed you won’t have any problem. And if you don’t, you can still convert 😉

The results were the same as I received from the online service. So there is no point in purchasing the software if converting from PDF to Excel is the only reason for doing so. However, I keep it on my system as I find it useful for other things as well. Editing PDFs, appending, and a range of other tasks that I can’t do with free software.

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Updated: January 4, 2014 — 1:17 pm

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