How to Import and Export Data from Excel to SharePoint Lists and Vice Versa
Many users who use SharePoint Online like to use lists because SharePoint lists look just like Excel tables. For better integration, Microsoft allows you to export Excel tables to SharePoint lists and vice versa. Users usually ask: How do I import data from SharePoint to Excel? How do I extract data from SharePoint? How do I create a SharePoint list in Excel? This blog post can help you answer these questions and explains how to export tables from Excel to SharePoint lists and vice versa. Four methods of exporting data from Excel and one method of exporting data from SharePoint lists are covered.
Method 1 – How to Export Data from Excel to SharePoint Lists Manually
The idea of the first method is that you should create an empty list that contains the same columns as in the Excel table. The data format of columns must be the same to preserve data consistency. Then you should manually copy data from each column of the Excel table and paste this data to the appropriate column of the SharePoint list.
Open an XLS, XLSX, CSV file, or a file of another format that contains a table in Microsoft Excel that is installed on your computer. In my example, I’ve created a simple table for demonstration. You can see this table opened in Excel in the screenshot below.
Open a web browser and log into your Office 365 account (Microsoft 365 account). Open your team site in SharePoint Online, and create a new list. Let’s call our test list List02 and enter a description, for example, Import Excel into SharePoint list. You can also read this blog post about SharePoint Online to learn more about sites, lists, and libraries.
Once you have created a new SharePoint list, create the appropriate columns by clicking +Add column. The columns must have the same names and data format as the columns in the source Excel table.
In the window that opens, enter a name, description, and type, and define other needed parameters for a column. Then hit Save.
The list now contains all the needed columns but remains empty. To start copying data to a SharePoint list, you have to view the list as a table. To do this, click Edit in grid view. You are ready to copy data from Excel to SharePoint list.
Select data in a column of an Excel table, and press Ctrl+C to copy the selected data to clipboard. On the screenshot below you can see the data in the Name column selected.
You can move columns (left and right) after creating them in a SharePoint list. Select the empty cell in the needed column (the Names column in our case), and press Ctrl+V to paste data you have copied to the clipboard. The Name column now contains all the needed data in our example. Similarly copy paste data for the other columns.
Once you have transferred data to all columns of your SharePoint list, you can exit grid view. We have finished copying data from an Excel table to a SharePoint list. On the screenshot below you can see how our list looks after copying all the data.
The advantage of this method is that it’s easy to use when you don’t have that many tables or columns.
The disadvantage is that it’s time-consuming and inconvenient when you have too many columns and tables to copy.
Method 2 – How to Export Data Directly from Excel to a SharePoint List
The idea of this method is that you should export your table to a SharePoint list directly from Excel installed on your computer. Excel must be able to connect to your SharePoint site. You should provide your credentials, and your Office 365 account must have sufficient permissions to create a SharePoint list on a SharePoint site.
Open Microsoft Excel installed on your computer, and open the table you want to export to SharePoint Online. Let’s create a test table for our blog post with some equipment items and create columns with vendors who manufactured these items, users who are owners of the appropriate item, and the price for each item.
Convert a spreadsheet to a table before you start exporting. Click Insert > Table.
In the Create Table window, you can leave default values and hit OK.
Now the view of the table is a little bit different, as headers are marked with another color.
Select any column name in your table, go to the Design tab (Table Tools), and enter a table name, for example, TestTable01. There should be no spaces in the name.
Select the Design tab, click Export, then click Export Table to SharePoint List…
A pop-up window is displayed. There are two steps to complete.
Enter the address of your team site in SharePoint, which is the destination for the Excel table that you want to export. In my case, I’m using the following address: https://nakivo.sharepoint.com/sites/BlogTeamSite
Enter a name for your table, for example: Excel to SharePoint list. This name will be used as the SharePoint list name after export.
Enter a description, for example: Import Excel to SharePoint list.
Hit Next to continue.
Define the correct data types for each column of the exported table, then hit Finish.
Now Microsoft Excel connects to your SharePoint site you have selected as destination to export the Excel table into a SharePoint list. Excel needs to pass authentication in Office 365 to export a table to a SharePoint list. You should enter the username and password for your Office 365 account.
If everything is correct, the export process will be completed successfully, and you should see the message:
The table was successfully published and may be viewed on: <address>
Open the link provided in the window in a web browser.
Now you can see the exported Excel table as a list in SharePoint Online.
You can open this list manually in SharePoint Online by opening your team site and going to the Site Contents section in the navigation pane of the web interface.
The advantage of this method is that it’s convenient to export data directly from Excel to a SharePoint list. All you need is Excel and access to SharePoint Online. No third-party apps are required.
Method 3 – How to Export Data from Excel to a SharePoint List with an App
The idea of the third method is that you should use a special SharePoint App to import spreadsheets from Excel to SharePoint lists. You need the Import Spreadsheet app and a web browser that supports ActiveX controls, for example, Internet Explorer.
Open your team site in SharePoint Online, click the Settings icon, and, in the menu that opens, hit Add an app.
In the window that opens, you can see a list of different SharePoint apps. Type “import” in the search field on this page. When the Import Spreadsheet app is found, click it.
On the page that opens, you should enter a name and description of the new SharePoint list that is created after import with the app.
Name: Excel to SharePoint list
Description: Import Excel to SharePoint list
Click Browse, and select the XLSX file (or another Excel file format that is supported by the app) that you want to import to SharePoint as a list.
ActiveX controls must be enabled in your web browser. If ActiveX controls is not enabled, you will see a warning message in your web browser. Refer to documentation for your web browser to learn how to enable ActiveX controls. ActiveX controls is a piece of software allowing you to interact with content you browse in the web. They can have access to your computer and may lead security issues. ActiveX controls are also known as plug-ins for Internet Explorer.
The advantage of this method is that it doesn’t take much manual intervention.
The disadvantages of the method are that you need to configure ActiveX controls that can be difficult or not supported in your web browser and that you need to use a special web app for SharePoint.
Method 4 – How to Export Data from Excel when Creating a New SharePoint List
There is one more method that allows you to import an Excel table to a SharePoint list when creating a new list in SharePoint Online. You don’t need Excel or other applications to use this method. Just open your web browser and log in to SharePoint Online with your Office 365 account (Microsoft 365) credentials.
Open you team site in SharePoint Online, click the Settings icon, and hit Site contents.
On the Site contents page that opens, click New > List.
A new page opens suggesting that you create a list. On the left side of the page, select From Excel to create a list from Excel. Enter a name for your new list, for example, SharePoint import Excel. Click Upload file, and select an Excel file (XLS, XLSX, or other supported formats) you want to import as a SharePoint list to SharePoint Online. As an alternative, you can select a file that has been already uploaded to a SharePoint site. Hit Next to continue.
A table in the file we have uploaded is recognized. Check the column types and make sure that the data format is correct to preserve consistency. Hit Create when ready to finish.
A SharePoint list has been created successfully and data has been exported from an Excel table to a SharePoint list.
The advantages of this method is that you don’t need to install Excel on your computer to export a table to SharePoint as a list and you don’t need to use a SharePoint app.
How to Export SharePoint List to Excel
You can export a SharePoint list to an Excel table with a few clicks by using a web interface of SharePoint Online.
Open your team site in SharePoint Online, then open the SharePoint list you want to export. Click Export to Excel.
A window notifies you that query.iqy must be opened in Excel. Select Excel as an application to open the downloaded query.iqy file, and hit OK. A Microsoft Excel security notice is displayed when you open a file downloaded from the internet in Microsoft Excel. The purpose of this notification message is to reduce risks of ransomware attacks and infection with other viruses. Click Enable to open the SharePoint list you are exporting to an Excel table.
Now a table opens in Excel and the export of the SharePoint list is finished. Save the table as a file in the needed format, for example, XLS or XLSX.
Refreshing data in Excel
If changes are written to your SharePoint list stored on a team site in SharePoint Online, you can refresh data in the table you have imported to Excel and update your table without the need to perform a new export/import operation. The data in Excel is not refreshed automatically right after changes are saved in a SharePoint list; you should perform one manual operation to do this. You should know how to connect Excel to SharePoint lists in this case.
Let’s add a new Switches line in the SharePoint list.
As you can see, the Excel table we have imported before is not updated automatically with the data we added to our SharePoint list (the Switches line). We need to update it by going to the Data tab and clicking Connections in Excel.
The Workbook Connections window opens. Click Refresh to refresh the data in your Excel table, then you can close this window.
Data has been updated in Excel, and the Switches line is added in the bottom of our Excel table without the need to re-export all data.
Be aware that data is refreshed only in one direction. If you change data in your Excel table and click Refresh, the SharePoint list is not updated.
If you don’t need to update data in the current Excel table, go to Data > Connections, select a query, and click Remove.
Microsoft provides good integration between SharePoint Online and Excel as they both are Microsoft products. There are at least four methods to export data from Excel tables to SharePoint lists. Methods covered in this blog post have advantages and disadvantages you should be aware of when selecting a method that is suitable for you. Select the right method depending on whether you want to do it manually, use Excel, or use another app. Data export from a SharePoint list to Excel is straightforward and affordable for all SharePoint Online users.
When you use SharePoint Online and Office 365 in general, don’t forget to back up your data. NAKIVO Backup & Replication supports Office 365 data backup for Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint Online. Download the latest version of the product, and back up all needed data in your environment.