How to open a CSV file.

CSV fileA comma-separated values (CSV) file is any file containing text that is separated with a comma, but can also be a file separated with any other character. A CSV file can be opened in any program, however, for most users a CSV file is best viewed through a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc or Google Docs.

Tip: If you do not have a spreadsheet program installed on your computer, consider using an online Spreadsheet such as Google Docs or a free Spreadsheet program.

Microsoft Excel
Open Office Calc
Google Docs

Microsoft Excel

If Microsoft Excel has been installed on the computer, by default CSV files should open automatically in Excel when the file icon is double-clicked. If you are getting an Open With prompt when opening the CSV file, choose Microsoft Excel from the available programs to open the file with.

Alternatively, you can open Microsoft Excel and in the menu bar, select File, Open, and select the .CSV file. If the file is not listed, make sure to change the file type to be opened to Text Files (*.prn, *.txt, *.csv).

If after opening the CSV file the text is all in a single column instead of being separated at each comma into individual columns, opening the file from within Microsoft Excel (as mentioned above) may result in the Text Import Wizard opening, asking you how you want the text separated. Choose the Delimited option, then on the next screen choose the Comma option. This should result in the text being separated at each comma and being placed in individual columns.

Text Import Wizard

Note: If you don't see the Text Import Wizard and all text is still placed in a single column in Microsoft Excel, there may be an issue with how the text in the CSV file is formatted. If there are double quotes around each line of text, Microsoft Excel will treat that as a single record and not separate the text at each comma. Open the CSV file in a text editor, like Notepad, to see if there are double quotes around the lines of text.

Open Office Calc

If Open Office has been installed on the computer, by default, CSV files should open automatically in Calc when the file icon 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 with.

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

Google Docs

Open Google Docs, click the Upload icon Google Docs Upload icon, select Files, and browse to the directory containing the .CSV file and select it. If an Upload settings window appears, check the Convert documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and drawings to the corresponding Google Docs format checkbox and click Start Upload.

Additional information

  • See our CSV definition for further information on this term and related links.