Convert Excel (XLS, XLSX, XLSM, XLSB) To CSV, TSV (any character delimited)

If you have trouble running these examples please see Using the Command Line and Helpful Hints For Creating a Command Line.

The first example shows how to convert a single worksheet within an Excel file to the most popular form of a CSV file, a comma delimited file as well as a Tab Delimited File (TSV). It can be easily modified to convert from an Excel file to any character delimited CSV file. Also in the first example we’ll show how to specify a specific range of cells within a sheet(s) to convert.

The second example shows how to convert multiple sheets within a single Excel file. Creating a single and multi-file output is illustrated.

The third and final example shows how to convert one or more sheets within many Excel files within a folder (and subfolders).

Each switch shown in blue is described in detail below the examples. It is highly recommended you review each switches description before implementing the example, thereby giving you the full power of ‘Convert XLS’.

Although not shown in the examples below, the /H switch could have been added to include values in addition to formulas when converting the Excel file. Furthermore, you can easily change the examples below to handle XLSX or XLSM files by changing all instances of “XLS” to “XLSX” or “XLSM” and changing all instances of “/F-4143” to “/F51” or “/F52” respectively. For XLSB files use the /M1 switch instead of /M2.

Example 1 (Single Sheet Conversion)

To convert a single XLS file, C:\in\B.XLS (Sheet named "LastSheet") to a comma delimited CSV file, C:\out\B.CSV using MS Excel conversion method, the following syntax would be used:


ConvertXLS.EXE /S"C:\in\B.XLS" /F-4143 /N"LastSheet" /T"C:\out\B.CSV" /C6 /M1 /V


To do the same using the 'Convert XLS' conversion method (extremely fast and MS Excel not required) simply change the /M1 switch to /M2 as shown below:


ConvertXLS.EXE /S"C:\in\B.XLS" /F-4143 /N"LastSheet" /T"C:\out\B.CSV" /C6 /M2 /V


If you want a tab (ASCII 9) delimited file instead of a comma delimited file simply adjust the /N switch:


ConvertXLS.EXE /S"C:\in\B.XLS" /F-4143 /N"LastSheet^^9" /T"C:\out\B.CSV" /C6 /M2 /V


Change the 9 (tab character) in the example above to any character you want. Look at the ASCII chart for numeric character equivalents.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Choosing the delimitation character is only possible when using the ‘Convert XLS’ (/M2) conversion method.

Building on the last example, say you want to specify a range, say A1:B10 within a sheet to convert. No problem, simply modify the /N switch as shown below:

ConvertXLS.EXE /S"C:\in\B.XLS" /F-4143 /N"LastSheet^A1:B10^9" /T"C:\out\B.CSV" /C6 /M2 /V


Specifying ranges can be very powerful. For example if you want to only extract column N you can use “N:N” for the range.


Example 2 (Multiple Sheet Conversion)

In example 1 we saw how the /N switch is used to specify the sheet/range to convert and what delimitation character to use in the character separated CSV file. Here we build upon that and show how to specify more than one sheet to convert.

To convert a single XLS file, C:\in\B.XLS (Sheets named "LastSheet","FirstSheet", and "MidSheet") to one CSV file, C:\Out\B.CSV, the following syntax would be used:


ConvertXLS.EXE /S"C:\in\B.XLS" /F-4143 /N"FirstSheet,LastSheet,MidSheet" /T"C:\Out\B.CSV" /C6 /M2 /V


After completion of this example the following file will be created containing all the data of the 3 sheets specified:



To create several output files you can add the /U switch like so:

ConvertXLS.EXE /S"C:\in\B.XLS" /F-4143 /N"FirstSheet,LastSheet,MidSheet" /T"C:\Out\B.CSV" /C6 /M2 /U /V


After completion the output would be several files:





VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The /U switch is only applicable to the ‘Convert XLS’ (/M2) conversion method. Using the ‘MS Excel’ (/M1) Conversion method always produces a multi-file output.

If FirstSheet, MidSheet, and LastSheet were indexed 1,2 and 4 respectively, the same results can be attained by setting /N To /N"1-2,4".


Example 3 (Multiple File/Folder Conversion)

Say you wanted to convert the 2nd sheet (/N"2") regardless of what the sheet name might be, of all the XLS files within the “C:\in\” folder and subfolders (/R for recursive subfolders). To do this the syntax would be:


ConvertXLS.EXE /S"C:\in\*.XLS" /F-4143 /N"2" /T"C:\out\*.CSV" /C6 /M2 /R /V


The example above can be modified to have the resulting files placed in the same folder as the input files. By specifying the /G switch and removing the /T switch as shown below:


ConvertXLS.EXE /S"C:\in\*.XLS" /F-4143 /N"2" /G /C6 /M2 /R /V


In the last two examples, you can also use the /M1 switch to specify the ‘MS Excel’ conversion method.


·      The /S and /T switches above specify Source (input) and Output (output) path respectively and are both required when converting a single file. It is always a good idea to use double quotes around the path especially if there are space characters within the path.

·      The /C6 switch specifies that the output file to be a CSV file whereas the /F-4143 switch specifies the input file is a XLS file. See Excel Conversion File Type Constants for all possible values for /C and /F.

·      The /M2 switch tells it to use the ‘Convert XLS’ conversion method which is exceptionally fast. Note the /M1 switch could have been used to specify the ‘MS Excel’ conversion method which is a bit slower and requires MS Excel.

·      The /R switch tells it to search the input folder and its subfolders for files to convert.

·      /G switch can be used to tell ‘Convert XLS’ to simply place each output file in the same folder as each input file.

·      /N"{Sheet^Range^DelimChar }" Is used when converting to/from an Excel, CSV or fixed width text file. It specifies which Sheets to convert, what Range to convert and what delimitation/separation character to use, and the method to import export to a fixed width text file. The syntax for this parameter is critical, the items are separated by a carrot character "^". If you do not include Sheet, Range or DelimChar by leaving them blank they will default to all sheets, all used ranges and the comma delimitation character. Be certain to include the double quotation character around this parameter like: /N"Apples,Oranges^A2:B20^9"


Sheet: Only used when an Excel file is the input file. Use "*" or "" for all sheets. You can use names of sheets, or the numeric index. If using numeric indices, you can specify ranges of sheets (i.e. "1,4,10-20" and "4-10,9" etc.). Range and DelimChar are optional.

Range: You could optionally specify a range, say if you only wanted to convert a portion of the input file. Use the same syntax as an Excel range (e.g. A1:B10).

DelimChar: is for specifying the ASCII value of the delimitation character used in a CSV file. 44 for comma, 124 for Bar “|”, 9 for the tab etc.

FixedWidth: Here you can specify how to import/export a fixed width text file. Not used in this example.


·      /H If converting from XLS to something else and using the ‘Convert XLS’ conversion method (/M2) you can optionally specify to include values along with formula, much like "MS Excel" conversion method does.

·      /U If converting an XLS file with multiple sheets specified, the /U switch will generate multiple files instead of a single file.

·      The /V (for Verbose) switch is used to give instant feedback by having the program report the status of the conversion with a message box. You can remove this once you have perfected your command line specification. You can also (or instead of /V) create a Log file that will contain the results of the conversion by using the /L switch.

Note: It is highly encouraged that you use the Verbose (/V) switch initially to see what the status of your conversion is and to help you perfect your command line. When in verbose mode the program will tell you what went wrong or right with your command line using message boxes.