Open a CSV File

by Gregory on July 2, 2010

I have a Lose It! app on my iPhone that automatically backs up data to my web account. The website makes it easy to download reports using CSV files, essentially giving you a file with the raw data.

A lot of programs export data using comma separated values, known as CSV files because of the file extension. CSV files are text files, which are comma-delimited and open directly into Excel.

Open CSV Files with a Desktop Browser

After downloading the CSV file I opened it the easy way: double clicking on the file in Windows Explorer. This action started Excel 2010 and then opened the file. Note: Windows associates the file extension .csv with a default program, which is Excel 2010 in my case.

That said, the file would open with Excel 2007 if it was open at the time I double-clicked the CSV file. The file would also open in Excel 2003 if it was running at the time.

Double clicking the CSV file in Finder on a Mac will start Excel:mac 2008 and open the file.

Open A CSV File with Excel

The following works with the different versions of Excel:

  • Select File » Open
    • In Excel 2007 select Office button » Open

In the Open Dialog Box:

  • Click drop-down for File Type and select Text Files (*.prn,*.txt,*.csv)
  • In Excel: mac 2008 click the Enable drop-down and select All Files

File Type Box Excel

  • Navigate to the directory where the CSV file is located
  • Select the CSV file and click Open

CSV Files, Before and After Excel

Here is what the CSV file looks like opened in a text editor. As  you can see below all data points are surrounded by quotation marks. The first two pieces of data, Date and Weight, have a comma between them.

CSV File in Text Editor

Here is what the file looks like after being opened by Excel. Notice the file name still has the .csv file extension.

Excel CSV File

At this point I normally save the file as an Excel workbook. That’s File » Save As and in the File Type box, choose Excel Workbook.

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