Years ago, it was common for businesses and individuals to reconcile their financial records against a paper copy of their monthly or weekly bank statement. Today, however, many people receive their bank statement via e-mail. While the earliest versions of these e-mailed files arrived as spreadsheets, currently most banks rely on PDF files that they can encrypt for security. PDF files are handy, but cannot be read by personal accounting software, which uses CSV files.
The ubiquity of PDF financial files
PDF, or Portable Document Format, was originally designed by Adobe for transferring a variety of file types to computers using many different file formats, retaining the file’s original appearance and layout. The first programs that converted files into PDF format were priced so that only businesses could own them, but the software program needed to read these files was free for everyone. This made it possible for just about everyone to be able to read and print PDF files, but very few people could convert files into this format. It was also very rare for individuals to have the ability to convert PDF files to any other type of format.
As technology evolved, more software programs began to offer users the option to convert their files into PDF format. This allowed software users of common programs such as Microsoft Office and Apple’s Pages the ability to share a static copy of documents they created among a wide range of users. It also made the documents difficult to edit — a good solution for information that needed to be distributed, but not changed.
This is why most banks send statements as static PDF files; it’s easy for them to produce this type of file regardless of the type of accounting and spreadsheet programs they use. The files can be opened on just about any computer, smartphone, or tablet, making them almost universally accessible. However, personal accounting programs cannot easily integrate these PDF files into their databases, since the data is not accessible as discrete bits of information since CSV (Comma-Separated Values) files are the common format for many financial accounting software programs. Until now, laboriously printing out these PDF documents and then manually entering the information into the files of financial accounting software program has been the solution.
Information, not format
There is no longer any need to handle data this way; there are now software programs available that can convert PDF to CSV files. MoneyThumb offers a great program that can convert your PDF bank statements into the CSV files that can be read by most accounting software programs. Instead of wasting time manually entering data, you can easily convert that information into a CSV file that your accounting software can read. This simple conversion almost magically presents your financial information exactly where and how you want it.