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Best PDF to Excel converters of 2020: export spreadsheets from PDFs

Best PDF to Excel converter
Image Credit: TechRadar

PDF software is available for the most usages of PDF files. There are PDF readers for Windows, PDF readers for Mac, and PDF readers for Android and iOS.

For most ordinary users this is at much as they'll need when dealing with PDF files, probably the most common document format online. However, sometimes PDFs will need changes made in which case there are plenty of PDF editors at hand.

However, PDF files can be more than just text and images, with the ability to embed data, tables, and spreadsheets into individual documents. This is fine if you want all that information to remain there, but sometimes you may need to extract it, and normal readers and editors won't cut that.

This is where PDF converters come into play, and PDF to Excel converters can be an essential tool for business and research institutions who need to use, share, and process a lot of spreadsheet information securely.

Unlike some file conversion software, the process should be simple and easy once you have the right toolkit, with no concerns about data formatting becoming lost in the export process.

Here then are the best in PDF to Excel converters that we've found.

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Best PDF to Excel converters - at a glance

(Image credit: Adobe)

1. Adobe Acrobat

The original and best?

The original PDF developer
Comprehensive features
Pricing is high

Adobe are the original developer of the PDF format, so their Adobe Acrobat software should be the market leading software. It's certainly packed with features, which includes the ability to convert PDF files into XLXS files for use in Excel spreadsheets.

The process should be quick and painless, with the data preserved without need for reformatting. In Adobe Acrobat, you simply open the PDF file you want to export, click on the Export PDF tool, choose your format such as Excel Workbook or .xlxs, then export. You can do this on any device, including your cell phone. 

Once completed, you can then edit the spreadsheet tables using whichever device you're already using. This is also supposed to apply to scanned OCR data, and in each instance you can select the data you actually want to convert, instead of having to export the whole table from .pdf to .xlxs.

Acrobat is more than just about exporting files, of course, and you can create, edit, export, sign, and review the documents being worked on collaboratively. This of course includes any spreadsheets that you export from PDF format.

Pricing for Adobe Acrobat comes in two versions: Adobe Standard DC is priced at $12.99 per month, which is only for use with Windows machines; whereas Adobe Pro DC is for both PC and Mac, and is priced at $14.99 per month.

(Image credit: Nitro )

2. Nitro Pro

A seamless solution that works across all your devices

Supports all Microsoft Office file formats
Cloud-based platform 
14-day free trial

Nitro Pro is a simple and streamlined application that allows you to turn PDF files into Excel documents with a minimum of fuss. Indeed, Nitro claims that its tool allows people to convert PDFs into any Microsoft Office format within a matter of seconds.

Using the application, you can edit all images, text and pages stored in a PDF document and transfer them into an Excel spreadsheet. Just like the Adobe offering, you’re able to add and request digital signatures on PDF documents.

Another great thing about this product is that it’s cloud-based, so you can access documents and edit them from any smartphone, tablet or desktop PC. You can even turn multiple PDFs into a single, searchable document, and there are tools that let you share and view files easily.

Nitro Pro starts from $126 per single-user licence, but there are discounts for bulk purchases, and you can sign up for a 14-day free trial to see if the software works for you.

(Image credit: PDFZilla)

3. PDFZilla

A multilingual PDF to Excel app

Supports 20+ languages
Batch conversion mode
Only available on Windows

The majority of PDF to Excel conversion apps out there are only available in English, which isn’t useful if you run or work at a company with a global reach. Need a solution on the language front? Enter PDFZilla.

Not only is it an incredibly powerful converter in its own right, but this app supports more than 20 languages, including German, French, Italian and Spanish. The software is also fast and easy to get to grips with, letting you convert PDFs with just three clicks.

You’re able to turn PDF documents into Excel, Word, Plain Text, Rich Text, JPG, GIF, PNG and more file formats within one platform. There’s also a handy batch conversion mode for dealing with multiple documents – up to 1,000 files – at the same time. You can buy the software for $29.95, although note that it only works with Windows.

(Image credit: PDFelement)

4. PDFelement

A solid offering with decent platform support

Editing and annotation features
OCR support
Mobile app for iOS

The majority of PDF to Excel converters are fairly broad in terms of their features, and PDFelement is by no means different. It’s been designed predominantly for professional users who need a tool for editing, converting, creating and annotating PDF documents.

What’s more, it boasts decent platform support, being available on Windows and Mac, with an iOS app too, allowing you to convert and edit documents while on-the-go. If you’re about to head into a meeting, having access to documents from your smartphone could be extremely useful.

PDFelement comes with a built-in optical character recognition (OCR) tool, which means you can annotate and add signatures to PDF documents. In a similar way to UniPDF, it tries to keep important elements of a document intact during the conversion process. For instance, if you have embedded tables in a PDF document, these will be converted into an Excel spreadsheet (hopefully) without issues. PDFelement retails at $79.95 (£65) for the standard package, but for all features you will need the Professional package priced at $129.99 (£110).

(Image credit: SmallPDF)

5. SmallPDF

A versatile tool on a palatable monthly subscription

Supports multiple file types

SmallPDF is another good example of a versatile PDF management tool. With it, you’re able to convert PDF documents into a range of different file types, including Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint.

It’s very easy-to-use, and indeed cloud-based for maximum convenience, allowing you to access PDF conversion via the website from wherever you may be (providing you’re online). There’s also a downloadable app for those who want to work offline (for Windows and Mac PCs).

SmallPDF allows you to compress, merge and split documents, as well as add e-signatures. And when it comes to security, this solution will delete your files an hour after they’ve been processed, so you don’t have to worry about any important business data potentially ending up in the hands of third-parties.

SmallPDF is priced at £9 on a monthly subscription, or £81 if you sign up annually.