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What is a CSV file & How to open a .csv file?

What is a CSV file and how to open .csv file? Computers, phones, etc. are great for storing different types of files which are in different formats according to their use. For example: The files in which you can make changes are in .docx format, files which you can only read and not allowed to make any changes are in .pdf format, if you have any tabular data, such data files are in .csv format, if you have any compressed file it will be in .zip format, etc. All these different formats files open in different ways. In this article, you will get to know what is a CSV file and how to open a file which is in .csv format.

What is a CSV file & How to open a .csv file

What is a CSV file?

CSV stands for Comma Separated Values. CSV files are plain text files separated by a comma and contain only numbers and letters. All the data present inside the CSV file is present in tabular or table form. Each line of the file is called a data record. Each record contains one or more fields which are plain text and separated by commas.

CSV is a common data exchange format that is used to exchange data usually when there is a large amount of data. Almost all the databases and consumer, business and scientific applications that store a large amount of information support this CSV format. Its best use among all the uses is moving data between programs in tabular form. For example: If any user wants to extract some data from database which is in proprietary format and want to send it to some other program which can accept a spreadsheet which uses a completely different format, then the database can export its data in CSV format which can be easily imported by the spreadsheet and can be used in the program wherever you want.

These files sometimes may call Character Separated Values or Comma Delimited files but whatever they are called, they are always in CSV format. They mostly use comma to separate values from each other, but sometimes also use other characters like semicolons to separate the values. The idea behind that is you can export complex data from one application file to CSV file and then you can import that CSV file in another application where you need that complex data. Below is given an example of a CSV file which is opened using Notepad.

Example of CSV file when opened in Notepad

The above shown CSV file is very simple and contains very less value. They can be more complicated than that and can contain thousands of lines.  

A CSV file can be opened in any program but for better understanding and for most users, CSV file is best viewed through a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc, and Google Docs.

How to open a CSV file?

CSV file can be viewed through Notepad as you have seen above. But in notepad, the values are separated by commas which is very difficult to read. So, there is another way to open a .csv file using a spreadsheet program which will open the CSV file in tabular form and where you can easily read them. There are three spreadsheet programs using which you can open a .csv file. These are:

  1. Microsoft Excel
  2. OpenOffice Calc
  3. Google Docs

Method 1: Open a CSV file using Microsoft Excel

If you have Microsoft Excel installed on your computer, then by default any CSV file will open in Microsoft Excel when you double-click on it.

To open CSV file using Microsoft Excel follow below steps:

1.Right-click on the CSV file you want to open.

Right click on the CSV file you want to open

2.Select Open with from the menu bar appear.

Click on Open with from the right-click context menu

3.From the “Open with” context menu, choose Microsoft Excel and click on it.

Under Open with, choose Microsoft Excel and click on it

4.Your CSV file will open up in a tabular form which is very easy to read.

CSV file will open up in tabular form | What is a CSV file & How to open a .csv file?

There is another way to open a .csv file using Microsoft Excel:

1.Open Microsoft Excel by searching for it using the Windows Search bar.

Open Microsoft Excel by using search bar

2.Click on the Microsoft Excel search result and it will open up.

From search result click on Microsoft Excel to open it

3.Click on File option available at the top left corner.

Click on File option available at top left corner

4.Click on Open available in the top panel.

Click on the open button available at the top panel

5.Navigate to the folder which contains the file which you want to open.

Browse through the folder which contains the file

6.Once in the desired folder, select the file by clicking on it.

After reaching that file, select it by clicking on it

7.Next, click on the Open button.

Click on the Open button

8.Your CSV file will open up in the tabular and readable form.

CSV file will open up in tabular form | What is a CSV file & How to open a .csv file?

So, by using any of the above methods, you can open CSV file using Microsoft Excel.

Method 2: How to open a CSV file using OpenOffice Calc 

If you have OpenOffice installed on your computer, then you can open the .csv files using OpenOffice Calc. If no other source is installed on your computer then your .csv file should automatically open in OpenOffice.

1.Right-click on the .csv file you want to open.

Right click on the CSV file you want to open

2.Select “Open with” from the right-click context menu.

Click on Open with from the menu bar appear

3.Under Open with, choose OpenOffice Calc and click on it.

Under Open with, choose Open Office Calc and click on it

4.Your CSV file will now open.

Your CSV file will open up | What is a CSV file & How to open a .csv file?

5.There are many options using which you can change how you want to view the .csv file content for example like using a comma, space, tab, etc.

Method 3: How to Open the CSV file using Google Docs

If you do not have any installed software on your computer to open the .csv files, then you can use online Google Docs to open the csv files.

1.Open Google Drive by using this link: www.google.com/drive

Open Google Drive by using the link

2.Click on Go to Google Drive.

3.You will be redirected to the login page. Enter your Gmail email address and password.

Note: If your Gmail account is already logged in then you will not redirected to the login page.

4.After logged in, you will be redirected to my-drive page.

After logged in, you will be redirected to my-drive page

5.Click on My Drive.

Click on My Drive

6.A dropdown menu will appear. Click on Upload files from dropdown menu.

Click on Upload files from dropdown menu

7.Navigate to the folder which contains your CSV file.

Browse through the folder which contains your CSV file

8.Once inside your desired folder, select the .csv file and click on the Open button.

Select the file and click on the Open button

9.Once your file is uploaded on the Drive, you will see a confirmation box will appear on the lower left corner.

A confirmation box will appear on the lower left corner

10.When the upload is completed, double-click on the .csv file you just uploaded to open it.

Double click on the CSV file you just uploaded to open it | How to open a .csv file?

11.From the “Open with” dropdown menu, select Google Sheets.

From the top Open with dropdown menu, select Google Sheets

12.Your CSV file will open up in tabular form from where you can read it easily and clearly.

CSV file will open up in tabular form | What is a CSV file & How to open a .csv file?

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I hope this article was helpful and you can now easily Open any .csv file using any one of the above methods, but if you still have any questions regarding this tutorial then feel free to ask them in the comment’s section.

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Aditya Farrad

Aditya is a self-motivated information technology professional and has been a technology writer for the last 7 years. He covers Internet services, mobile, Windows, software, and How-to guides.

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