What is a CSV file and how to open it?

What Is a CSV File?

open csv fileCSV (comma-separated values) file is a plain text file that includes a list of data. These files are mostly used for exchanging the data between different applications. For example, databases and contact managers usually hold back the CSV files. These files may often be called Character Separated Values or Comma Delimited files.

They mostly use the comma character for separating (or delimit) data, but sometimes they use other characters, like semicolons. The idea is that you can export complex information from one application to a CSV file, and then import the same data in that CSV file into another application.


Structure of a CSV File

A CSV file has a fairly simple structure. It’s a list of data separated by commas. For example, let’s say you have a few contacts in a contact manager, and you export them as a CSV file.

That’s all a CSV file is. They can be more complicated than that 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’s the basic format.

That simplicity is a feature. CSV files are mainly designed to be a way to simply export the data and import it into another program. The resulting data is human-readable and can be easily viewed with a text editor like Notepad or a spreadsheet program.


How to Convert CSV to Excel?

There exist 3 ways for converting CSV to Excel: you can also open a .csv file directly into Excel, just double-tap on the file in Windows Explorer, or import any CSV file into Excel as external data.


how to open csv file


Method 1: How to open CSV file in Excel?

If you had generated a CSV file in another program, you can still open it as an Excel worksheet in the normal way by using the Open command.

  • With your Microsoft Excel open head over to the File button and tap on “Open”.
  • The Open dialog box appears and then choose the Text Files (*.prn,*.txt,*.csv) from the drop-down menu in the lower right-hand corner.
  • Navigate the CSV file and open it as usual by the double-tap on it.
  • If you have selected a text file (.txt), Excel will start the Import Text Wizard. See Importing CSV to Excel for full details.
  • To get Excel for launching the Import Text Wizard, you can either change the file extension from .csv to .txt extension before opening the file, or you can import the CSV file to Excel as explained further.


Method 2: How to open a CSV file using Windows Explorer?

This is the fastest method to open a CSV file in Excel. In Windows Explorer, just double-tap on a .csv file and have it open as a new worksheet. However, this technique works only if you have Microsoft Excel set as the default program for .csv files on your computer. 


csv file


If Excel is not set as  the default program, you can set it in this way:

  • Right-tap on any .csv file in Windows Explorer, and then choose the  Open with… > select the default program from the context menu.
  • Tap on Excel on the desktop under Recommended Programs, just assure yourself that you select the  “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” and click on OK.


Method 3: How to import CSV to Excel?

Using this technique you can import data from a CSV file into the existing or a new Excel worksheet. Unlike the previous two methods has been described,

  • With the required spreadsheet open, click the cell where you wanted to import the data from a .csv file or .txt file.
  • On the Data button, in the Get External Data group, click on  “From Text”.
  • Navigate to the CSV file you wish to import, choose it and tap the Import button.
  • The Text Import Wizard will appear and you will have to follow their steps.

Hopefully, this will help you in understanding the much better way that why we choose these settings with this example.

Step 1:- Select the file type and the row number to start importing the data. normally, you select Delimited and row 1, respectively. Select the file type and the row number to start importing the data from CSV to Excel.

Step 2:- In this step, you choose a delimiter(s) and text qualifier. The delimiter is the character that separates the values in your .csv file. If your CSV file uses some character other than the character that is available in the pre-defined list, then select the Other checkbox and type your custom character.

Step 3:- If you are satisfied with the Data preview, then just tap on the Finish button.

  • select the destination for the imported data, either an existing or a new worksheet, and click on OK to finish the importing of your CSV file to Excel.


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