What Is a CSV File and Complete Guide to Open It

CSV File

What Is a CSV File?

Comma-separated value (CSV) files are files that contain data from a table listed in plain text form, such as email contact details. Although CSV files can be opened with many programs, like text editors, the data they contain is best viewed using a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice Calc, or Google Sheets.

You will need to select Open from the File menu, select the CSV file, and then adjust the delimiter settings if the data is not displaying correctly. Similar steps can be used for Google Sheets, but require you to upload files to Google’s servers. Keep your data organized and tidy. This article will be dealing with different aspect of CSV file, seat back and keep reading.

The Structure of a CSV File

A CSV file has a fairly simple structure. It is a list of data separated by commas. For example, let’s say you have email contact details in a contact manager, and you export them as a CSV file. You would get a file containing text like this:

 CSV File

That is all a CSV file really is. They can be more complicated than the above structure, and can contain thousands of lines, more entries on each line, or long strings of text.

Some CSV files may not even have the headers at the top, and some may use quotation marks to surround each bit of data, but that is the basic format.

How to Open CSV File Via Microsoft Excel

One of the biggest way to open the file is using Microsoft excel, virtually all computer have this program installed. These are the steps to do it:

Step 1 ====> Launch Microsoft Excel on your computer.

Step 2 ====> Click the File menu and select Open. This menu is in the upper left corner and will open a window to browse for files on your computer. You can also press Ctrl + O (Windows)

Step 3 ====> Select a CSV file and press Open. The file will open and display in a new Excel spreadsheet.

Step 4 ====> Now click on the Data tab to access the Text to Columns wizard (optional). If Excel displays all text from the CSV file in a single column, this will allow excel to better parse the data. The Data tab is located in the top menu bar and will display a set of data-specific options. If you only want to split certain columns, click and drag the cursor to highlight the columns you want split.

 CSV File

Step 5 ====> Click Text to Columns. This button is one of the options in the data tab and will open the “Text to Columns” wizard.

Step 6 ====> Select the Delimited option, and then click on Next. A delimiter sets a boundary between data points in a text file (in this case, the comma)

Step 7 ====> Select the Comma checkbox then click on Finish. All the text that was previously separated by commas will now be placed in separate, individual columns.

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Open CSV File Via Office Calc

If Open Office has been installed on the computer, by default, CSV files should open automatically in Calc when the file is double-clicked.

If you are getting an Open With prompt when opening the CSV file choose Open Office Calc from the available programs to open the file.

Alternatively, you can open the Open Office Calc program and in the menu bar, select FileOpen, and select the CSV file.

How to View a CSV File in a Text Editor

To view the contents of CSV file in Notepad, right-click it in File Explorer or Windows Explorer, and then select the “Edit” command.

Notepad may have trouble opening the CSVfile if it is very large. In this case, we recommend you use a more capable plain text file editor like Notepad++. To view a CSV file in Notepad++ after installing it, right-click the CSV file and select the Edit With Notepad++ command.

 CSV File

You will see the plaintext list of data in the CSV file. For example, if the CSVfile was exported from a contacts program, you would see information about each contact here, with the contact’s details sorted onto a new line.

If it was exported from a password manager like LastPass, you would see different website login entries on their own line here.

 CSV File

How to Open CSV File Using Google Drive

Step 1 ====> Open Google Drive. If prompted, log into your Google account.

Step 2 ====> Then resize the window so that it is smaller (half of the width of the monitor or less works well).

Step 3 ====> Now locate the file or folder you would like to add to Drive.

 CSV File

Tip: A quick way to locate files and folders is by searching in File Explorer that is opened by pressing the Windows key + E on your keyboard.

Step 4 ====> Then drag and drop the CSV from its current location to the open space in the middle of the My Drive section. The example shows a text file, but it works just the same for a CSV.

Step 5 ====> If the file was properly added, you should see a conformation prompt in the lower right-hand corner of the browser window (shown below). Additionally, the CSV will now appear under the My Drive section.

 CSV File

How to Convert a CSVFile

Since CSV files store information in a text-only form, support for saving the file to another format is included in lots of different online services and downloadable programs.

I know for certain that all of the programs mentioned above can convert a CSV file to Microsoft Excel formats like XLSX and XLS, as well as to TXT, XML, SQL, HTML, ODS, and other formats. This conversion process is usually done through the File > Save as menu.

There are also some free file converters that run in your web browser, like Zamzar for instance, that can convert CSVfiles to some of the formats listed above but also to PDF and RTF.


Conclusively, CSV files are something most people never need to bother with. But, if you have ever needed to get information out of one application and into another, that is what they’re there for.

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About the Author: Gadgetsright

Adeola (Jasper) is someone who loves everything about technology. He devoted to everything that is tech-related and tries his best to produce useful and quality articles about mobiles, computers and other related products.

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