How to Convert a PDF to Excel: Free Tools & Instructions

How to Easily Convert PDF to Excel in 2024:
Your Go-To Free Tool and Complete Guide

Working with data locked inside PDFs can be a nightmare. Maybe you have an important table of figures that you need to edit, analyze, or plug into a company dashboard. But the PDF format acts like a cage keeping you from easily manipulating that data how you need. Don‘t worry though, we‘ve all been there tearing our hair out!

The good news is there are now easy ways to liberate your data by converting PDFs into fully editable Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. You can go from trapped, static information to dynamic tables and charts with just a few clicks.

In this guide, we‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to quickly convert any PDF to Excel. We‘ll cover:

  • An overview of your conversion options (online tools, desktop software, etc.)
  • A detailed look at our recommended free converter,, with a step-by-step tutorial
  • Pro tips and best practices for flawless PDF to Excel conversions
  • How stacks up against other popular conversion tools

By the end, you‘ll be a certified PDF conversion expert. You‘ll know exactly which tool to use in any situation and how to get perfect results every time. Say goodbye to the headache of trying to work with rigid PDFs and hello to the freedom and power of editable Excel files!

PDF to Excel: Understand Your Options

When it comes to converting PDFs into Excel format, you have a few different routes to choose from:

  1. Desktop conversion software
  2. Online conversion tools
  3. The manual method (copy-paste)

Let‘s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each approach.

Desktop PDF Conversion Software
Examples: Adobe Acrobat, Nitro Pro

  • More advanced features and customization options
  • Can process large batches of files at once
  • Retains formatting of original PDF layout
  • Requires downloading and installing
  • Typically requires a paid license
  • More complex to learn and use
  • Takes up computer storage space

Online PDF to Excel Converters
Examples:, Smallpdf, Tabula

  • No download required, just use in your web browser
  • Many are completely free to use
  • Very quick and easy, just upload and convert
  • Doesn‘t take up any computer storage
  • May have limitations on file size or number of pages
  • Some tools require signing up for an account
  • Results can sometimes vary in quality

The Manual Approach (Copy-Paste)

  • No extra tools required, just use Adobe Reader and Excel
  • Completely free
  • Allows more control over how data is copied over
  • Extremely tedious and time-consuming for more than a few items
  • High likelihood of human error
  • Formatting doesn‘t carry over, requires manual fixing

For most people, online web-based converters offer the best balance of ease-of-use, speed, affordability, and reliable results. Within that category, is our top pick, and we‘ll look at it in detail shortly.

But when might you want to use desktop software instead? If you‘re dealing with very large or complex PDFs, or you need to process batches of files regularly, then a paid tool like Adobe Acrobat or Nitro Pro could be worth the investment. They offer more horsepower and features for power users.

As for the manual method, we only recommend it if you have a very small amount of data to convert. Like a single table with just a few rows and columns. Anything more than that and you‘ll be wasting hours of your life with tedious copying and pasting! Trust us, an automated tool is well worth it.

Now that you understand your conversion options at a high level, let‘s dive into our top recommended tool and walk through exactly how to use it. The Best Free Tool for Converting PDFs to Excel

While there are many online converters out there, earns our top spot thanks to its excellent combination of ease-of-use, accurate results, security, and price (it‘s 100% free!).

Here are some of the key benefits of

  • Clean and simple web interface
  • No account creation or login required
  • Converts native and scanned PDF files
  • Supports documents of all sizes, from one page to hundreds
  • Extracts data accurately into formatted Excel rows and columns
  • Compatible output for Excel 2007 through 2019 plus alternatives like OpenOffice
  • Secure upload via 256-bit SSL encryption
  • Files are automatically deleted after conversion for privacy
  • Batch conversion of up to 20 PDFs at a time
  • Completely free, no payment required can handle any PDF to Excel conversion scenario you throw at it. From a simple price list PDF to a 50-page financial statement with dozens of tables, it will spit out an Excel file that‘s ready to edit.

The tool uses smart algorithms to recognize tables, columns, and rows in your PDF. It then extracts this data and creates a perfectly formatted XLSX file that preserves the layout of your original document. All you have to do is upload your PDF and click a button!

How to Convert a PDF to Excel with

Ready to see how works? We‘ll walk you through the process step-by-step:

Step 1: Go to

Open your web browser of choice and head to You‘ll see a simple screen with a blue "Upload PDF file" button.

[Screenshot of homepage]

Step 2: Select your PDF file

Click that blue "Upload PDF file" button and select the PDF document you want to convert from your computer. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the file directly onto the web page. also supports uploading from a cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Step 3: Wait for the conversion to complete

Once your file is uploaded, will immediately begin converting it to the Excel XLSX format. You‘ll see a progress bar showing the conversion status. For most PDFs, this will only take a few seconds.

[Screenshot of conversion in progress]

Step 4: Download your Excel file

After the conversion finishes, you‘ll see a "Download Excel file" link appear. Simply click it to save the converted XLSX file onto your computer. You‘re now ready to open it in Microsoft Excel or your spreadsheet app of choice!

[Screenshot of completed conversion with download button]

Step 5: Open your Excel file

Locate the XLSX file you just downloaded (it will be in your computer‘s default downloads location) and double-click to open it. You‘ll see your PDF data perfectly laid out in the familiar Excel rows and columns.

[Screenshot of PDF data in Excel spreadsheet]

That‘s it! You‘ve successfully converted your PDF to an editable Excel file with Told you it was easy!

Tips for Getting the Best PDF to Excel Conversion Results

While is powerful and intuitive, there are still a few tips and tricks you can use to ensure you get the best possible results:

  1. Use high quality PDFs
    The cleaner and clearer your original PDF, the better the conversion will turn out. If you‘re scanning physical documents into PDF, use a high quality scanner and make sure the text is crisp. Avoid PDFs with smudges, blurred ink, coffee stains, or handwritten notes, as these can trip up the conversion.

  2. Make sure tables have well-defined lines looks for lines and spacing to recognize where tables begin and end. It can struggle with PDFs where the tables don‘t have clear dividing lines. If you‘re creating the original PDF yourself, add borders to tables and ensure adequate spacing between columns and rows.

  3. Split up large or complex PDFs
    While can handle PDFs of any size, the accuracy may go down with very lengthy or complex documents. If you have a PDF with dozens of pages and many different table layouts, consider splitting it into a few smaller PDFs and converting them separately. This will make it easier to review the results.

  4. Check and clean up the Excel output
    Always review your converted Excel file for any formatting quirks or inaccuracies. You may need to resize a few columns, merge some cells, or correct a couple errant numbers and letters. Built-in Excel tools like Text to Columns and Find and Replace are your friend here. A little bit of manual cleanup is normal.

  5. Reach out to support if needed
    If you ever get stuck or have an issue with a conversion, don‘t hesitate to contact the support team. They‘re responsive and happy to help. Just send an email to [email protected] explaining your problem.

If you follow these guidelines and best practices, you‘ll be well on your way to PDF conversion mastery.

How Does Compare to Other Conversion Tools?

While we think is the cream of the crop, there are other reputable online converters out there. Here‘s a quick look at how it stacks up to two other popular choices, Smallpdf and Tabula: vs. Smallpdf

Smallpdf Advantages:

  • Offers conversion to additional formats beyond Excel (Word, PowerPoint, JPG)
  • Has a desktop app version in addition to online
  • Excels at converting scanned PDFs and overcoming issues like skewed pages Advantages:
  • Unlimited free conversions (Smallpdf requires a paid plan after first few)
  • Simpler interface with fewer steps and options
  • Faster conversion times on average
  • Handles documents of any size (Smallpdf has a 5GB limit) vs. Tabula

Tabula Advantages:

  • Open source and completely free
  • More control over table detection and parsing
  • Can automatically split a PDF into many Excel files based on table locations Advantages:
  • Much simpler interface, no technical know-how required
  • Faster and more user-friendly
  • Retains formatting and visual layout of PDFs more accurately
  • Works in the browser without needing to download an app

While each tool has its selling points, we still feel offers the best combination of powerful functionality and ease-of-use in a free package. But depending on your specific needs, one of these alternatives could also get the job done.

The Wrap Up

We‘ve covered a lot of ground in this epic guide to converting PDFs to Excel. Here‘s a quick recap of the key takeaways:

  • Converting PDF data to Excel is often necessary to properly analyze and work with it
  • You have three main conversion methods: online tools, desktop software, and manual copy-paste
  • For most users, online tools offer the best blend of convenience, affordability, and results
  • is our recommended free online PDF to Excel converter
  • It‘s secure, easy-to-use, and produces reliably formatted Excel files from PDFs of all sizes
  • Following best practices like using high quality PDFs and checking results ensures the best conversions
  • compares favorably to other top online converters like Smallpdf and Tabula

No more letting PDF data lock you in a cage. With the right tools and approach, you can liberate your numbers and text into the paradise of editable, analyzable spreadsheets. We hope and the other tips in this guide serve you well in all your PDF conversion quests!

Now go forth and convert, you Excel wizard you. May your rows and columns forever be filled with meaningful, actionable data.