The best PDF to Excel converters are perfect for accurately exporting tables and data from PDFs into Microsoft Excel.
For more efficient workflows, the best PDF to Excel converters simplify conversions without losing the formatting in the process, even when working with multiple files at once.
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These days, most of the best PDF editors and free PDF editors let you convert PDF to Excel online, on desktop, and on mobile. So, you have lots of ways for extracting that data and exporting a PDF into Excel without copy-pasting or, worse, entering information by hand. Other common filetypes, especially those in the Microsoft 365 suite, are usually supported too.
To help you identify the right tool for you, your organization, and your budget, we’re testing the best PDF to Excel converters. As part of this assessment, we’ve compared each tool’s platform compatibility, batch processing results, security, and the overall quality of the XLS file output. For those concerned about data compliance regulations, we’ve also looked at the security each service offers.
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The best PDF to Excel converters of 2023
Adobe are the original developer of the PDF format, so their Adobe Acrobat software should be the best PDF to Excel converter. It's certainly packed with features, which includes the ability to convert PDF files into XLSX 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 .xlsx, 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.
Read our full Adobe Acrobat DC review
Nitro offers a full-featured and streamlined software platform 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.
There are a couple of different versions, with Nitro Pro aimed at small businesses and individuals, while the Nitro Productivity Platform is aimed at enterprises.
Read our full Nitro PDF Pro review
The best 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.
Read our full PDFelement review
The majority of the best 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. The software only works with Windows.
Read our full PDFZilla review
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.
The one negative is that SmallPDF isn't transparent on its pricing, pushing users to try the software first. However, the cost is fairly reasonable.
Read our full SmallPDF review
Best PDF to Excel converter: FAQs
How to choose the best PDF to Excel converter for you
Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
When deciding which PDF to Excel converter is best for you, the answer really lies on your other PDF editing software needs. If you only need to convert PDF data into an Excel-friendly format, one of the more affordable options in this guide could be all you'll ever need.
However, if you work with PDF files more frequently and need to edit them, a free PDF reader with Excel conversion tools would be more appropriate. If you want to make significant edits to your PDF files, a complete PDF editor is your best option.
Pricing will play a factor, too - some, like Adobe, only offer subscription-based plans, rather than giving you full ownership of the software. So, it's important to assess what budget you're working to, and how well the tool delivers at that price.
You'll also want to consider which device you'll be using your PDF to Excel converter. Some provide full cross-platform compatibility on Windows, Mac, and mobile devices, while others are limited to particular operating systems. Others are online PDF to Excel converters only, which means you'll need a reliable internet connection to convert from PDF to Excel.
What is a PDF to Excel converter?
The best PDF to Excel converters extract data from PDF files and save it to an XLSX file for easy editing in Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet package.
The PDF file format is highly flexible and a great way to present data across multiple platforms and devices. However, PDF editors lack the number-crunching functionality offered in Excel.
When you're done editing, Excel to PDF converters can reverse the process and turn the data back into a PDF file.
How we test the best PDF to Excel converters
We downloaded, installed, and used all of the programs in our best PDF to Excel converters guide to compare them based on first-hand experience. Running a series of PDF files through each converter, we assessed how they handled various data types and how these appeared in the resulting spreadsheet.
You'll likely want to do more than just convert PDF files to XLSX, so we explored each program's other features too. We looked at each product's pricing and subscription models and investigated free and trial versions (where available).
As part of this, we assessed the tool's overall interface design and user-experience, to ensure the PDF to Excel converter was accessible and simple to use for both casual and power-users. We also looked at pricing, to ascertain whether or not the software offered genuine value for money.
Finally, we researched the documentation and other support options offered by each developer.
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