Open CSV File

Information, tips and instructions

Open CSV File

CSV file extension is used by files in comma separated values format. CSV files typically contain table information. First line of CSV file usually contains a table header and other lines contain table rows with data. Each line in CSV file consists of text strings delimited by commas. Each text string can contain any symbols except of the comma. If comma needs to be used inside the string, then string should be enclosed in quotes.

Simplicity of CSV format makes it great for cross platform data exchange. CSV file is frequently used on the internet by websites and web applications to export the data. When CSV file needs to be downloaded from the internet it is typically compressed using ZIP or GZIP application resulting in CSV.GZ or ZIP file. CSV file compression ratio is very high because it contains repeatable textual information.

Due to its simplicity you can open CSV file on any platform. CSV file are not binary thus it is possible to open them using any textual editor including Notepad on Windows, TextEdit on Mac OS and VIM on Unix/Linux. But viewing CSV file in text editor is not very efficient because this makes table information hard to read. To open CSV file it is much better to use specialized spreadsheet software including:

  • Microsoft Excel (available on Windows and Mac OS)
  • Google Sheets (available on any platform connected to the internet and capable of running Google Chrome internet browser or another compatible browser)
  • Microsoft Office Online (available on any platform connected to the internet and capable of running compatible browser)
  • Apple Numbers
  • CSV files are transferred over e-mail or internet using text/csv multipurpose internet mail extensions (MIME) type.

Open CSV File on Windows OS

  • Try double clicking on a CSV file in Windows File Explorer.
  • If the CSV file reading software is associated correctly then the file will open
  • If the file did not open you should install Microsoft Excel software
  • To open CSV file in Microsoft Excel you need to launch it and then select File->Open in the main menu
  • In the File Open dialog select CSV file and click "Open"
  • As a free alternative to Microsoft Excel you can use Google Docs or LibreOffice Calc

CSV files are frequently converted to the XLSX or XLS Microsoft Office file formats. XLSX format can contain significantly more spreadsheet related features but has limitation in software capability.