What is Data Import?

Data Importing for Financial Software

It is possible to import data to tax software from personal finance software.
Importing Financial Data to Tax Software. Credit: Screen shots by Shelley Elmblad

Importing data means bringing information that you've saved with another source into your financial software. It might be account records from a secure bank website or data you entered into another financial software program and now you want to integrate the two. It's far more convenient to have all your information located within one application at your fingertips rather than spread out through various other applications.

Importing data depends on the particular software you're using, but the differences between applications are usually minor. 

Data Import Examples

A typical data import would come from account transactions that you've downloaded from your bank or other financial institution. Your financial software can usually convert the data so new transactions show up in the account register.

Other examples of importing data would be importing an entire account or a data file that's transferred from one software package to another to save you time when you're entering transactions.

Account data and data files can also be exported and imported between the same software title and version on two different computers.

You Must Export Before You Can Import 

You must export and save the data from an online or other source before you can import it. For example, you might want to import your old MS Money data into Microsoft Money Plus Sunset edition to be able to compare your old budget to a new one you've created.

Here's how you would do it:

  1. Most financial institutions let you export an entire statement or transactions that have cleared since your last download. If you don't want to download an entire statement, click on recent transactions or a similar option for the account you want. 
  2. Look for a link or a button to download activity. It might be off to the side or at the top or bottom of the page. Explore the links until you find what you're looking for if it's not immediately evident. It should be marked as "Download" or "Export."
  1. If you're given the option to select the date range you want to export, select the beginning and ending dates for the transactions you want to download.
  2. Now select the software format or file type that you want to export, which is usually presented in a drop down menu or other selection list. Make sure it's compatible with the software you'll be using. 
  3. Click on the "Download" button. Allow the exported data to be saved and you have successfully exported and downloaded transactions for use in your personal finance software. 

The Next Step 

Now you need to import the data into your software.

Your browser probably has a default location where it saves files you've downloaded. This is usually a folder logically called "Downloads," but check your browser options if you don't see such a file or if the export file doesn't appear to be there. You'll have to locate the data before you can import it.

Now open the software to which you want to import the data. There should be a "Choose File" option somewhere on the home page. This is the term that Quicken software uses, but it might be something different depending on your financial software application. For example, if you were importing into Microsoft Office, the tab is simply labeled "Open." In any case, you should be rewarded with a pop-up window showing all your saved files when you click on it.

Navigate to the location where the imported file is located and open or import it.

The export file should be deleted after the downloaded file is imported into your financial software.