How to Convert Spreadsheets to PDF With the Push of Button

By | October 30, 2014

So you regularly create spreadsheet masterworks, but the thought of sharing the details of your genius makes you break out in hives. One way to separate the outputs from your inputs is to save spreadsheets as a PDF file. It’s not hard to do so by way of the File menu, if you don’t mind a generous helping of carpal tunnel on the side. Reclaim part of your day by creating an icon that will let you PDF any spreadsheet with ease. As an added bonus, you’ll get a keyboard shortcut that’ll help out on those bad mouse days.

The technique we’re going to rely on involves the Quick Access Toolbar. If you’re still living in the past and using Excel 2003, stop reading now and get back to your favorite AOL chat room. If you’re using Excel 2007, hold up for a minute and make sure that you can actually create PDF files first. Microsoft begrudgingly conceded that no, their beloved XPS format would never supersede the PDF format. Excel 2007 allows you to save documents as PDF files, but only if your software is patched. Your friends on the IT team have nothing better to do anyway, so call them up and demand that you want your Service Pack 3 for Office 2007 right here, right now.

Alrighty then, now that we’ve brought the spreadsheet stragglers up to speed, let’s get to the point here. For most Excel users, the Quick Access Toolbar has three icons, Save, Undo, and Redo. All three icons are redundant, as you can press Ctrl-S, Ctrl-Z, and Ctrl-Y, respectively to carry out said tasks. Regardless, we’re going to add two new icons to the collection that will enable you to PDF like a pro:

Figure 1

  1. As shown in Figure 1, click the arrow at the end of the Quick Access Toolbar, and then choose More Commands.
  2. In the Quick Access Toolbar section of the Options dialog box, change Popular Commands to File Tab.
  3. About midway down the screen double-click on Email as PDF Attachment to add this icon to your Quick Access Toolbar.

That first icon was low-hanging fruit. The second icon, which will enable you to save a document as a PDF file, is going to require a bit of gymnastics:

Figure 2

  1. Scroll further down the File Tab section until you see Save as Other Format (singular…don’t get lured into the plural version of Save as Other Formats). Double-click to add this to your Quick Access Toolbar, and then click OK to close the dialog box.
  2. As illustrated in Figure 2, click the arrow next to the Save as Other Format icon on your Quick Access Toolbar, and then right-click on Save as PDF or XPS, and then choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
  3. Clean up behind yourself by right-clicking on the Save as Other Formats icon and choose Remove from Quick Access Toolbar.

Press the Alt key to reveal the numeric keyboard shortcuts for your new icons, but make sure to use the numbers across the top of your keyboard. If you use Alt and the number pad you’ll overwrite a cell in your worksheet with some cute little icon like ♦ or ♣. Anyone up for Go Fish?