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Can Excel be sent as PDF?

Can Excel be sent as PDF?

Sending documents from your computer to someone else's is no easy task. There are so many different file types and ways of sending them that it almost seems impossible for anyone to know everything there is about how files get transferred between devices—and even then, sometimes we still have questions!

Here’s one such question: Can Excel spreadsheets ever be saved or emailed as PDF files? We'll answer this here.

We've covered other uses for PDFs before like creating custom forms with Adobe Forms Cloud or using Google Drive's built-in features if you want to turn on Print Friendly without having to download another app. But what exactly does "PDF" mean when referring to Microsoft Office programs?

In short, PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated (now owned by Adobe) back in 1993.

The format consists of two parts: The document itself, which contains all the text, images, formulas, charts, etc., and a special container called a booklet. This container organizes information into sections, much like pages in a traditional printed document. And while these containers aren't used when printing, they're needed when viewing a.pdf file because each page must contain its own section.

A common misconception about PDFs is that they're not editable. While true in some cases, most people don't need to worry about editing PDF files at all because they're created specifically for transferring data between computers. If you're looking to make changes after converting a document, you should use something like LibreOffice instead.

If you'd rather just print out a single sheet, however, you may be able to open the PDF in software like Preview on macOS and change any number of settings directly within the program. You could also try downloading a free app like IrfanView to see if you can tweak things that way. Otherwise, if you want to take advantage of certain features, like being able to sign documents easily, you'll have to convert the file to a different type first.

There are countless reasons why making a PDF might be useful. Here are three examples.

1. Emailing Spreadsheet Data Is Easier Than Converting to Another File Type First

When you export a spreadsheet to PDF, the entire thing gets lumped together into a large blob of unorganized data. This makes it difficult to find specific items later on. For example, say you wanted to copy down part of a table containing cell A2 through C8, you would probably go ahead and paste those cells individually onto new rows in separate columns elsewhere—but who wants to go through that hassle every time?

You can avoid this problem entirely by simply copying the original formula references too. Whenever you select multiple cells in Excel, a little toolbar pops up above automatically showing you where all selected cells are referenced. In our case, we'd choose Formulas from this menu and check the References box next to Cells(...). Doing this will add corresponding numbers to the bottom left corner of each selection.

Once copied, these reference locations appear under Home & Clipboard in the top right corner of Excel. Select View & Define Name and give your list of cell addresses a name, like Cell Reference List. Now whenever you select multiple cells in future workbooks, this toolbar will show up again. Simply click on Copy Address to Paste Formula Results instead of selecting individual cells, and voilà.

This method works well for simple tables or basic functions, but isn't always ideal for more complex equations. Instead, you can use VBA code to perform actions across ranges of cells based off their address. Here's a quick tutorial if you feel confident enough to attempt this yourself. Or, alternatively, you could save the Excel spreadsheet as XML and import it into Word. That option allows you to manipulate data via VBA scripts too.

2. Signatures Are Easy With the Right Tools

One feature that's especially helpful when sharing docs around is the ability to write signatures inside PDFs. This lets others quickly identify important points in your documents. On Windows 10, for instance, you can draw signatures using Ink Workspace, which comes preinstalled along with OneNote 2016.

To start signing a PDF with your finger, tap the screen once to bring up the digital ink panel. Then press and hold anywhere on the canvas until the pen icon appears. From there, swipe your finger around to create shapes and lines.

If you prefer writing signatures digitally, you can access the same tools from OneDrive's web version of Excel. To get started, head to Insert " Drawing Tools " Pencil. You can adjust the size of the brush, color, opacity, and thickness. Once finished, you can either insert the signature manually or drag the image straight onto the document.

3. Sending Documents As PDF Files Has Never Been More Convenient

While you may never run into situations where exporting a spreadsheet as a PDF proves beneficial, it's hard to deny how convenient it is to be able to view, share, and archive your Excel documents in this manner. Plus, since PDFs are already compatible with pretty much anything, including mobile apps, you won't have to bother with extra conversion processes.

As mentioned earlier, you can use a variety of methods to accomplish this. You can opt to install third party software like SumatraPDF or Foxit Reader, both of which offer plenty of additional functionality besides allowing users to read PDFs. Alternatively, you could use Chrome to scan documents locally and save them as PDFs. However, unless you have a high speed internet connection, the latter method takes forever compared to opening them online.

And lastly, you can use Microsoft Edge on desktop versions of Office 365 ProPlus. It doesn't matter whether you're working on a Mac, PC, iPad, Android device, Kindle Fire Tablet, or any smartphone running iOS 8 or newer—Edge can handle PDF documents natively.

So now that we've answered the question, let us know below if you found it valuable. Also, if you happen to come across any other interesting ways to utilize PDFs, please share them with us in the comments.

The ability to convert Microsoft Office documents into different formats is one of the best features that come with using Word, Excel or PowerPoint on your Mac. Saving a document as a PDF allows for easy printing, sharing, editing, and other functions in addition to letting you easily share it without worrying about losing formatting — and there are plenty of reasons why this makes sense (PDFs aren't tied to any specific software).

But sometimes converting documents isn’t enough. Maybe you want to get someone else involved in looking at data, like when you have something important from sales figures emailed to you by a client who doesn't know how to read graphs well. Or maybe you just need to make sure everything looks exactly right before sending off a presentation to clients. In those cases, you may need to send them as a DOCX instead. But what if you don't have access to their computer? Can you actually email a spreadsheet directly as a PDF? And even if you could, would they open it up properly? Let's take a look.

Can I send Excel as a PDF?

It depends on which version of Excel you're running. If you use Windows 10, then yes, you can definitely send Excel as a PDF via email. The easiest way to go about doing so is through SharePoint Online, which offers a feature called Send-to-Desktop—this lets anyone viewing the desktop view of your screen instantly download whatever file you've selected. Clicking "Send" will prompt you to choose whether to export to PDF format or not. You'll also see some options below this for adding recipients and setting permissions.

If you're not comfortable using Sharepoint Online, you can always try downloading the free app Office Desktop for Android or iOS. This program works pretty much identically to its web counterpart. To send your current excel sheet as a pdf, simply click "Download," select "File types & compression settings," and choose "Export to PDF." A new window will pop up asking for confirmation, after which you should receive a link where you can open the resulting PDF. It does all the work for you!

However, keep in mind that this method only creates a basic single page copy of your document. So if you're working on several sheets, you might find yourself creating multiple copies manually. For example, say you wanted to create two versions of your report — one with just a few charts and tables, another with many more details. With Office Desktop, you'd have to duplicate each section, delete unnecessary content, change fonts and sizes, etc., and repeat that process again and again until you had both versions created. Not ideal.

In either case, though, these tools work regardless of which operating system you're currently using. That means you can transfer Excel files to Linux, too, provided you have installed LibreOffice (which we found was able to handle our sample spreadsheet quite nicely) and have downloaded the relevant tool. As long as you follow the instructions above closely, however, you shouldn't run into trouble.

If you're having issues getting things to load correctly, check out these tips for exporting an Excel document as a PDF. Chances are good that once you figure out the proper steps to get the job done, you won't ever wish you weren't saving your files as.xlsx anymore.

How do you save Excel as PDF and send it to email?

Now let's talk specifics. We learned earlier that Office 2016 users are unable to email Excel files directly as PDFs, but thankfully recent updates allow for the same functionality in 2019. However, Microsoft 365 subscribers can now add the option to emails through, meaning you'll never have to worry about missing out on this convenience. Here's how to set it up:

First, head to, log into your account, and sign in with your usual credentials. Once logged in, click on Mail in the top navigation bar. Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and click Create New Document. Then, under File Type, click Add Existing Files. From here, pick Excel 2007 XLSM, hit Next, give your file a name and location, and finally hit Save. Now whenever you compose a message in Gmail containing an attached file, you'll see the option to save that file as a PDF. Hit Open, choose the correct file type, upload the file, and attach it wherever you please. Easy peasy! See the full guide here.

For non-Microsoft 365 users, you can use Google Drive to accomplish essentially the exact same thing — except rather than pulling files in from your inbox, you'll pull them straight from your Drive. Just navigate to My Drive " Pick stuff up " [Your Name] " Select Folder " Spreadsheet. Afterward, you should see a small button labeled Download next to each spreadsheet tab. Simply tap this button, choose the number of pages you want to include, and wait while the files are saved. Note that you'll need to enable downloads for individual tabs separately if you want to limit them to certain sections within a larger spreadsheet. Finally, drag the desired files onto your preferred browser or application, such as Chrome, Firefox, or Preview itself, to bring them up.

You can also turn on automatic downloads in your personal settings. Go to Preferences " Downloads and toggle Automatic downloads on. Of course, this requires people receiving your attachment to accept said downloads first.

Again, remember that Office 2016 users cannot use this function. Additionally, since the latest update to this feature came last year, there's no guarantee that newer programs will support it yet. Thus, you should stick to Office 2019 or later if possible.

How do I email an Excel document as a PDF?

This part gets tricky. While you technically can send a PDF file as an email attachment, depending on your recipient's setup, most likely they won't be able to open it. There are a couple ways around this problem, but none of them are particularly elegant. One solution is to install Adobe Acrobat Reader DC on your end and instruct whoever receives your attachment to double-click on it. Doing so should launch their own default reader instead of whatever they normally use. They should hopefully be able to open the file successfully.

Another option is to use a cloud storage service like Dropbox or iCloud Photos to host your files. Email attachments count against your allotment of space, but unlike local ones, cloud links expire after 30 days unless extended. Plus, you can specify particular time limits per person for viewing purposes. This is great because you can provide your client with a link where they can access the file themselves, rather than being forced to download it immediately. Alternatively, you can use Zapier to automate forwarding incoming PDFs to whichever folder holds them.

Finally, if you really insist on sending someone Excel as a PDF, you can do so using a script. Using Python, you can write a simple command that opens up a URL and sends it to a specified user. Something like this could theoretically forward every PDF you received to your designated client. Be warned, though, that anything you put in the body of the text box will show up as plaintext. Thankfully, you can modify the code slightly to prevent this. Try installing requests library for Python 2.7 and 3.4+ along with Beautiful Soup 4.6+, and then modifying the following line:

response =

To become:

data =

Here's a quick tutorial explaining how to use the requests module. Since the responses object contains HTML markup, you can parse it further by calling soup(). From there, you can extract the actual image elements using findAll(), loop through it and print each element's url attribute. Combine this with os.system("c:/path/to/") and you're ready to roll.

Note: This tutorial uses Python 2.7, but you can replicate the same effect in Python 3.5+. Also note that this approach relies heavily on the fact that images contain unique urls, whereas PDFs generally don't. Thus, you'll probably encounter errors if you try to apply this technique to a large batch of PDFs. At least you tried, eh?

How do I save an Excel file as PDF?

Once again, there are two main methods available to achieve this goal. You can either use OCR technology or you can output your file as a series of PostScript commands. Both methods produce fairly similar results, although OCR tends to produce cleaner scans while PS produces faster processing times. Either way, you should be fine as long as you're careful with your selections.

OCR Scans

OCR stands for optical character recognition, which basically translates scanned paper into digital text. Essentially, this involves scanning a document or piece of paper and extracting the information contained therein. Though it sounds daunting, it's not hard to learn how to perform OCR tasks in general. Luckily, there are tons of free online tutorials already available to help you out. If you're interested in learning more specifically about extracting information from Excel files, this helpful video explains how to use Tesseract, an OCR engine designed especially for English language documents.

PS Commands

Post Script is essentially a programming language used to communicate between computers.

If there's one thing that Microsoft excels at doing, it's creating documents and spreadsheets for people who don't know how to use them. And if there are two things that Microsoft excels at, they're making products like Word (which is great) and Office 365 (which is also great).

But what about when your friend asks you to edit their budget on Google Docs or ask someone else for directions with Apple Maps? You want to give them something useful. Something small enough to open up quickly without having to download anything. That's where sending a document from Excel comes into play.  There are some caveats though.

So why couldn't we just save our Excel Spreadsheet as a PDF and then share it via email? Well, because of security reasons, most browsers will only display certain types of content within a web page — including images, video, audio, etc... But let's say you have no idea how to create a.PDF file, nor would you ever consider yourself proficient enough to learn how to make one. So instead, you'll need to rely on someone else to convert your workbook for you. This leaves us with 3 problems:

1. How do I attach an Excel File to my email?

2. Why can I not send an Excel File?

3. Can you embed an Excel file in an email?

These three questions aren't related necessarily. The first question deals with attaching an Excel sheet directly to an email, while the other two deal with actually sharing the file itself. However, all three relate back to each other since these issues all stem from lack of proper functionality. Let's take a look!

First off, lets talk about why you might want to e-mail an Excel Spreadsheet to a person. If this isn't clear already, here are some examples:

You've been asked by a client to write down data so that they may better understand a report, but you haven't yet created said report through Powerpoint/Word. Instead, you whip out your trusty old pen and paper and jot down everything onto a piece of scrap paper.

Your boss wants to see specific information regarding your weekly reports, but he doesn't have time to read your entire Powerpoint presentation. He'd rather get his hands on a copy of your notes.

Your friends' wedding invitation lists several different locations. Rather than printing out every single map, you decide to just print out an Excel spreadsheet containing addresses & phone numbers for everyone.

In each case above, you could simply print out a hardcopy of whatever you were working on, but wouldn't you prefer to just send it over the internet? Saving a few trees definitely sounds good too. Plus it allows for much faster distribution and access. Now that we have the basics covered, lets go ahead and tackle those limitations.

Why can't I email my Excel spreadsheet?

Excel offers many ways to export data, which includes both "hard copies" (such as PDF exports) and "soft copies" (like CSV exports), but unfortunately none of these options allow for the exporting of actual Excel sheets themselves. While there is technically nothing wrong with any of these methods, they are all limited in terms of the type of data that they support. For example, CSV exports cannot contain charts or graphs, which means that anyone trying to view an Excel chart using a text editor such as Notepad won't be able to. On top of that, PDF exports often come with multiple pages per sheet, thus taking forever to load depending on the size of the file.

The best way is to export the spreadsheet as an image (.PNG format works well), then insert the image into an email message. Once opened in another program, users should be able to read the contents easily.

To accomplish this task, you can try searching online for tools that offer free conversion services. One website called Imgur even provides a tool that converts PNG images into JPG images, converting your spreadsheet into a smaller version that takes less space during transit.

Once you receive the converted file, just right click on it and select Save As. Then choose JPEG under the Format menu. It will ask you whether you want to include transparency effects, set the background color, add a border around the image, etc.. Just leave everything blank unless you want to change it later, otherwise the default settings should suffice.

Then once saved, drag the new icon onto your desktop and double click on it. A window should pop up asking you to name the file. Give it a meaningful title, and hit Open. After opening the newly named picture, find its location in Windows Explorer, and drag it into your favorite photo editing software.

Here are some popular programs that integrate perfectly with importing pictures from external sources:

Adobe Photoshop


Photoshop Elements

When finished, press Ctrl + S and head over to to send the image attachment to whoever needs it.  This method will probably end up being slower than just uploading an image manually, but it's worth mentioning due to its simplicity.

Can you embed an Excel file in an email?

Yes! In fact, there are several places that you can upload an Excel file and embed it within an HTML email. Here are 2 common sites used for this purpose:

Embed Files [No longer available]


As mentioned earlier, Embed Files makes it easy to upload files directly into emails. Simply visit the site, select Upload Your Workbook, browse to your desired file, and paste the URL into the appropriate field. From there, you can either preview the embedded file locally or link it straight to the source webpage.

Downloads does a similar job except it doesn’t provide direct links to websites. Instead, you must first download the browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer 9+, Maxthon, and Yandex. Navigate to Downloads and search for your file. Clicking “Open” will automatically launch the downloaded file.

Note: To prevent accidental downloads, be sure to check the box next to “Show Details” before clicking “Save Link / Attachment".

Why can I not send an Excel File?

Alright, now we've gone over how to attach Excel files to emails, but what happens if you forget to attach your Excel sheet altogether? What if you forgot to enter your contact details into the Mail Applet prior to sending the email? Or maybe you accidentally clicked Send instead of Schedule? Are you getting frustrated yet? Don't worry, you're far from alone. These little oversights happen quite frequently.

Luckily, Outlook 2010+ has added built-in features to help solve this problem. With Outlook 2007 and older versions, you had to resort to third party solutions which required additional fees or registration processes. Fortunately, Microsoft realized that allowing users to schedule outgoing messages was highly beneficial, so they included the feature into Outlook 2011+. Unfortunately, Outlook 2003 and below didn't get this same upgrade.

Outlook 2013 and newer users can utilize the Scheduled Email function found under Options - Trust Center - Security Tips - Control Who View Information About My Computer. Users on Outlook 2003 and below will need to turn on Info Rights Management Settings and set the Allow Full Automation option to Yes.

How do I attach an Excel File to my email?

Okay, so hopefully you've learned a bit about attachments today. Hopefully, you're feeling confident in your ability to attach Excel spreadsheets to your emails. Before you continue learning more tricks, however, keep in mind that a lot of companies block the transmission of sensitive data over unencrypted channels. Be cautious of potential interception attempts.

For instance, if you live in Canada, you must ensure that your computer sends information securely. Otherwise, your company may deny liability for any illegal interceptions. Thankfully, there are plenty of encryption methods that protect sensitive data from prying eyes. Some of these methods include SSL certificates, PGP keys, and SSH keys. Even with strong encryption, however, many companies insist that employees use VPN servers for extra protection.  With that said, if you really value privacy and anonymity you may wish to avoid encrypting your traffic entirely. If you're interested in more info about this topic, please refer to this article on anonymous browsing.



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