Convert PDF File to Excel

pdftoexcelconverter00 When I got back to my office after a recent vacation, there was an email from Una, about a PDF to Excel conversion service, that she asked me to try.

There was also a big pile of emails from family, friends and clients, with more urgent requests. So, Una's email got dropped into the Follow Up folder, with little chance of being looked at again.

Until today. And I'm very glad that I read that email – it saved me a few hours of work, and that will save my client some money!

Avoiding Data Entry

Today I met with a client who needs an insurance quote calculator updated. In the new version, we need to add a long list of motorcycle makes and models.

They gave me a printed copy of the manual, and it has several pages of lists that we need to add in the update. I asked if they could get an Excel or Word version of the manual, so we could copy the data from there, into our calculator file.

Even a PDF file would be better than nothing, so I asked for that, as a third option. I figured that I could use Adobe Acrobat to extract the text somehow, if a PDF file was all that we could get.

And, of course, a PDF file was the only option available.

Convert a PDF File

When my client sent the PDF file, I remembered Una's email, and dug it out of the Follow Up pile. Here's what she said about the PDF to Excel conversion service that she is promoting.

It is a free online PDF to Excel conversion service -  .

There are only few similar tools around and this tool has following advantages over them:

  1. It has no significant file size limitations (documents of up to 30MB can be converted)
  2. It's web based and it requires no installation on the computer
  3. The table data in the PDF will be accurately represented
  4. As stated in our Privacy Policy user documents and email addresses are 100% safe.

Hmmm…Free…and safe…and free.

So, I clicked the link to the website, and uploaded the motorcycle manual. For some reason, I had to click the Browse button twice, before it worked.


In Step 2, I entered my email address, and click the Send button.


The file was about 3 MB and uploaded in about one minute.


Less than a minute later, there was an email from the website, with a link where I could download my converted file.

Data Converted to Excel from a PDF File

The email told me to click on the link below, and I did.


However, I didn't notice that the first link was within the "Advertisement" section, and it took me to a product page for Investintech. They showed some of their fine paid products, like Able2Extract Pro, which I have used in the past, to convert PDF files to Excel. I didn't want to buy anything though – I wanted to download my file.

I went back to the email, and scrolled down a bit further. There was the download link, for my converted Excel file. Clicking that took me to a page with a download link.

The instructions say to click the link, but it should tell you to click the button – that link isn't clickable.


The file downloaded quickly, and when it opened, I was very impressed with the results. The tables were in good shape, and the lists will be easy to copy and paste into our Motorcycle Calculator file. I won't have to spend a few hours typing those lists in the Excel file, or trying to convince someone else to do it!

Desktop PDF to Excel Converter

The website states that your privacy will be protected, but if you're trying to convert confidential documents, you can use a desktop PDF converter instead. You'll sleep better at night, knowing that all your files are securely locked up, with no possibility of accidentally going astray. 

As I mentioned, I've used Able2Extract Pro, and found it easy to use, with excellent conversion results. Unfortunately, I didn't have a copy available today, but this file wasn't confidential, so the online version was fine for this conversion.

Able2Extract Pro

Convert PDF to Word Failure

As a side note, I also tried converting the PDF file to Word, to see if the lists would be easier to copy and paste. I used the PDF to Word site, operated by Nitro, and the upload went well.


About 6 hours later, I got an email that said, "Sorry, an unexpected conversion failure occurred when converting your file." Good thing that I wasn't depending on that site for a quick solution to my problem!


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13 Responses

  1. Jon says:

    Interesting. I always wonder how these companies make money. I guess they hope that you will click on the add and purchase some nicer software. Some do donations. It would be interesting to see the financial books on these companies and see which is the best method for releasing products.

    My wife was in an community orchestra and they did better by offering free concerts and then get donations from patrons than from actually charging for the concert. Of course, the arts attract a lot of money that way, don’t know if that is possible with software since we all expect free or inexpensive at least when it comes to software.

    • Ryan says:

      I imagine they use the email address they’ve captured to try and sell an upgraded or “paid” version.

      That’s fascinating about your wife’s orchestra, it seems like a really bold move to offer a concert for free, but clearly it works

  2. Ed Ferrero says:

    Wish you had posted that a day earlier :)

    Evil Excel tip #32 – Application.DecimalSeparator = “4”
    Warning, you will lose data…

  3. Jeff Weir says:

    I used the built in OCR capability of OneNote recently to get data from a PDF to Excel. Problem with OneNote is that it didn’t handle tables so well…I had to do one column at a time. But otherwise it worked fine.

  4. Bob Ryan says:

    Debra – Did you also try to use Adobe Acrobat to convert the data? If yes, I’m curious how it turned out.

  5. Lynda says:

    I discovered converting pdfs to Excel files directly from Acrobat just a couple of weeks ago and have been using it a lot since then. It’s working pretty well for me. The stuff I’m using it for does come out with lots of merged cells, but that’s not real surprising since the pdfs are database reports anyway.

  6. Earl Hall says:

    Converting from a PDF file that has been prepared from a database or Excel is not difficult and many tools are available for that. It is when someone scans a report and the file becomes a picture that issues arise.

  7. Jeff Weir says:

    True. ORC to the rescue in that case. Again, OneNote is great for that.

  8. Jeff Weir says:

    Oops, I meant OCR.

  9. Kate says:

    Hello, another free software program I suggest trying is, an useful toolkit which lets users convert pdf files into text, mobi or epub formats, when needed. No installation needed, just upload documents and see how it goes. Thanks!

  1. March 19, 2012

    […] Contextures had a nice post last week on converting a PDF to an Excel file using Talk about a URL that says what it does. Jeff Weir commented that he’s used the OCR capabilities of OneNote to do the same thing. I thought a test was in order. […]

  2. March 20, 2012

    […] Convert PDF File to Excel […]

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