I’m happy to have abandoned Windows for the oh-so-stable Mac OSX , and I’m increasingly using Google docs for basic spreadsheets and word processing. But there’s one Microsoft application I just can’t live without for more complicated spreadsheets, and that’s Excel.
I recently changed my iMac hardware and didn’t have MS Office installed on the new machine, so as a stopgap I started creating .ods spreadsheets using NeoOffice. Since then I’ve installed Office on the new machine, and so I wanted to convert my .ods spreadsheets to an Excel-readable .xls or .xlsx format. Not so easy.
NeoOffice provides a .xls ‘save as’ option, but inexplicably then drops formula content and exports the document as values only. Copying a NeoOffice spreadsheet to the clipboard and pasting to Excel causes the same problem.
Online conversion sites can help, though. I used Zamzar.com to convert the .ods file to a fully-functioning .xls file and it worked great. The site is aggressive in its pop-ups but otherwise gets a clean bill of health from SiteAdvisor (my previous startup). Simply upload the original file to Zamzar.com and they’ll email back the converted file in one of several formats. The free version of the service has file size limits and takes a good 30 minutes for the conversion, but paid versions of the software reduce these restrictions and speed conversion time.
The advantage to online conversion sites is that you don’t have to download/install software (good for locked-down corporate systems) but the disadvantage is that you’re uploading your data to a 3rd party. So clearly you shouldn’t be sending anything that’s highly sensitive. It’s also important to check the reputation of the conversion site because a nefarious site could in theory return the document with a malicious payload (embedded in a macro or visual basic script, for example) that could do all kinds of nasty things to your system. SiteAdvisor is a good place to start to check the sites’s reputation.
Side note: Prior to trying Zamzar I also tried Media-Convert.com but only got file errors when I uploaded my source file.
Bottom line: it’s not seamless to move streadsheets between NeoOffice and Microsoft Office, but Zamzar.com can help by easily converting .ods files to Office’s .xls or .xlsx formats.