Converting Word & Excel to PDF in FileMaker

Document storage is a crucial capability of a FileMaker database. Microsoft Word and Excel files are among the most commonly stored files, and PDF has become the go-to format for file sharing.

It’s helpful to preview and share Word and Excel files in PDF format in order to avoid sharing the original file. There’s also a need to display these files without having to install Office apps for all FileMaker users.

AppWorks has developed a lightweight tool to accomplish this task, as demonstrated by the GIF above. No FileMaker plugins or 3rd party APIs are being used; this is all accomplished using native OS and FileMaker scripts.

Use case:

For example, you can modify an invoice in MS Word and upload it to the database. FileMaker can then automatically convert the file to PDF and send it to the desired recipient. A copy of the sent PDF file is stored in FileMaker for auditing purposes. Automating this workflow can be a great timesaver.

Manual workflow:

  • Modify the Word document
  • Export as PDF
  • Upload the Word document
  • Upload the PDF file

Automated workflow:

  • Modify the Word document
  • Upload the Word document

While plugins exist for this very purpose, this method does not require any plugins, thus alleviating issues around maintaining plugin updates. This method relies entirely on native Windows or MacOS tools to accomplish the same task quickly and reliably.


  • Reliable and accurate conversions
  • Fast
  • Easy to manage and modify
  • No recurring or upgrade fees
  • Supports MS Office versions as old as Office 2003
  • Supports bookmarks based on headings or bookmarks in Word
  • Quick implementation into FileMaker databases using FileMaker Server 18 or later (Upgrades are easy, please contact us if this is a challenge for you)
  • Smart logic to detect if a file was already converted and if a new PDF file should be generated if the source file changed
  • Human readable logs

Supported conversions:

  • .doc to .pdf
  • .docx to .pdf
  • .xls to .pdf
  • .xlsx to .pdf

If you’re interested in converting files to PDF in your FileMaker database, we’re happy to help implement this functionality in your solution. You can contact us here. Please note that implementing this technique requires FileMaker Server 18 and above, and that the maximum supported file size is 64 MB.