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Streamline Your Records with PayPal and Excel

Make eBay recordkeeping a snap using PayPal features

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Streamline Your Records with PayPal and Excel

Download your PayPal history and spreadsheet your eBaying to your heart's content.

Image: jannoon028 / Freedigitalphotos.net
If you've been an eBay seller for any amount of time you already know that PayPal is a great way to accept payments online—it's fast, it's easy, and PayPal keeps meticulous records of transactions completed this way. In fact, you can access these transactions in a convenient, spreadsheet-ready format to streamline your accounting practices—whether you are a buyer, a seller, or both, you don't have to use the PayPal website directly to access the record for every transaction. In combination with a spreadsheet program like Excel, this PayPal feature can make bookkeeping for small and medium-volume buyers and sellers a piece of cake—especially if you are careful to use PayPal for the majority of your transactions.

Using Excel to Access PayPal Records

PayPal makes its database of your transactions accessible to you in a format called CSV, or "comma-separated values." Most spreadsheet applications like Excel, Quattro Pro, or OpenOffice.org Calc—the same ones that you may use to balance your checkbook or do your taxes—are capable of reading and importing files stored in this format.

Because PayPal can create CSV files for you based on the date ranges, you can use PayPal to generate quick, accurate, complete accounting information (including PayPal fees, shipping and handling amounts, and other details) about your eBay transactions that you can then store on your own computer and manipulate in a spreadsheet application, for example, to sort by transaction type or get quick totals for tax purposes.

Creating a CSV File Using PayPal

To create a CSV file of your PayPal transactions, log into the PayPal website just as you would to view your account normally. Once logged in and viewing the default "My Account" page, follow these steps:

  1. Click "History." Click on the blue and white "History" link near upper center of the page. (Hint: it's located just to the right of the "Withdraw" link.)

  2. Select a date range. Use the tools at the top area of the page to select a date range for transactions to display. You can select common requests like "Last Week" (for all transactions during the previous seven days) or "Last Month" (for all transactions during the last 30 days), or you opt to display a specific date range.

  3. Click the "CSV" link. Click the "CSV" link just to the right of the word "Download:" at the upper right of the display area. A popup will appear asking you to select a download format.

  4. Click the "Download" button. Without changing the file type from "CSV," click the yellow "Download" button. PayPal will pause for a few moments to access its database before sending your web browser a file called Downoad.csv. Save this to your desktop for easy access.

Advanced users reading along with this article may already know what exactly what they want to do with the data at this stage—if this is you, feel free to download to other formats (like the Quicken or Quickbooks formats) or to deviate from the procedure outlined on the next page.

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