Tuesday, April 06, 2010

How to copy a HTML table to Excel-my new favourite Firefox Add-on

In these recessionary times I thought it would be a good idea to get a better grip on our household budget. As a starting point I decided to download a full years worth of expenditure and income into Excel for analysis. On-line banking provided a quick way of getting the data but there was a problem. Our main bank provides the data in a pretty inflexible web table. You cannot easily grab data from a HTML table using copy and paste as all formatting is lost. If you try to paste into Excel the columns become completely jumbled.

Happily it turns out there is a very useful extension for Firefox called Table tools which allows one to manipulate HTML tables and copy them with all formating intact to another programme such as Excel. After installing table tools you just need to highlight the table, right click and then select "copy as tab-delimited text" to get a version that can be pasted straight into Excel. Superb, this will actually be very useful to me in work as well as at home.


I should point out that this add on has not been reviewed by Mozilla but I have had no difficulties with it and I am entirely impressed.

It's just typical isn't it? Barely a week after deciding to move to Opera as my main browser I discover an excellent reason to use Firefox. I guess I always knew that Firefox was the more powerful more extensible browser but Opera does the day to day things I want to do better. For the moment I will keep using Opera and go back to Firefox when I really need the added functions I cannot do in Opera.

3 comments:

Cap'n John said...

I hate, Hate! HATE! copying a table of data from Firefox then pasting it into Excel, only to have everything get pasted into the A1 cell.

I also hate how I'll start typing a comment on a Blog before the page is fully loaded, only to have the page finish loading and see everything in the 'Comment' box get deleted...and I have to start typing again...and Ctrl-Z's 'Undo' doesn't work.

Table Tools sounds great for my first problem. Any ideas (other than 'Wait') to solve my second?

mbp said...

Hi Cap'n John have you tried pressing the stop button before you start typing. That should prevent new content being downloaded to overwrite your comment. You may find that the comment box isn't complete yet but even then you should be able to copy your text into the paste buffer before refreshing the page.

Anton said...

Oh, Web browser gripes, I have a few of those, haha. But I guess I just get used to them and forget about them for the most part even though I'm dealing with them every day.

The one that gets me every time, is when I open a new tab, then click the google search bar...start typing something to search for, and suddenly my curscor jumps to the address bar 3-4 keystrokes in and the rest ends up in the address bar.

So awesome.

And I use Internet Explorer. Lame, I know.