Exporting files

The flip side of importing files is, of course, exporting them.

In some ways, importing files from another format is easier. If you mess it up, you know right away. With exporting, however, you won’t know until you try to open it in the other program whether it worked or not. However, if the program you’re trying to open it in can’t recognize and convert the format you’ve currently got it in, then exporting is the only way to go.

Not all programs can convert to every other program. Older programs, for example, are not likely to be able to export into newer versions…and why should they? After all, if the coders of Excel 97 knew exactly what format Excel 2007 would need, they’d have been coding Excel 2007 instead of Excel 97. Likewise, Microsoft isn’t likely to go out of their way to make it easy to export to an open-source competitor like Open Office. However, if you don’t need to save the formulas then it’s worth remembering that pretty much everything can convert to and from CSV format.

If you do need to store formulas, there’s still a way to do it! Just do a global search and replace = with ‘=, and that will convert all of your formulas to text. Then export to CSV, import to the new program, and replace ‘= with =. You’ll also have to re-define any names, and if one of your programs uses commas in functions and the other one uses semicolons, you’ll have to change that as well. It’s clunky, but it’ll work with just about everything.

As a matter of fact, names will often not transfer correctly. That’s why I went over how to recognize the name error before discussing this topic.

Anyway… how you go about exporting and what options are available depends on what program you’re exporting from. I won’t address which programs offer which options, because the lists are usually pretty long. Just remember when you look through the list that they aren’t necessarily in any sort of order that will make sense to you, and you might need to read carefully to find what you want.

In Excel 97, in OpenOffice Calc, and in Microsoft Works Spreadsheet:

  1. Click on the File menu header (or type alt-f).
  2. Click on “Save As…”.
  3. At the bottom of the dialog box, change the drop down menu labeled “Save as type:” to the appropriate option.

In Excel 2007:

  1. Click on the Office button (it’s the circle in the upper left corner, with the colored squares in it) or type Alt-F.
  2. In the menu that appears, click on “Save As” or type “A”. (If you click on the arrow or type “F” it will take you to a submenu with a smaller number of choices, and you’ll have to click on “Other Formats” to get the full list.)
  3. At the bottom of the dialog box, change the drop down menu labeled “Save as type:” to the appropriate option.

In Google Spreadsheet:

  1. Click on the File menu header
  2. Click on “Download As”
  3. Click on the option you want.