.CSV File Extension

Comma-Separated Values File

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What is a CSV file?

A CSV file is a comma-separated values file commonly used by spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice Calc. It contains plain text data sets separated by commas, with each new line in the CSV file representing a new database row and each database row consisting of one or more fields separated by a comma.

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Screenshot of a .csv file in Microsoft Excel 365
CSV file open in Microsoft Excel 365

The CSV data exchange format is supported by many personal, business, and scientific programs. The format is especially useful in transferring tabular data between programs and databases because of its wide support.

The file is also helpful for transferring data saved in a proprietary format, such as an .XLSX file, into another program that does not support the XLSX format. For example, you can export financial data in an XLSX file opened in Microsoft Excel to a CSV file to upload it to an online financial management service. Or, you can export thousands of contacts from an email service to a CSV file then import the file into an address organizer or another email service.

How to open a CSV file

You can open CSV files with a large number of applications, including Microsoft Excel (multiplatform), OpenOffice Calc (multiplatform), Corel Quattro Pro (Windows), and Apple Numbers. You can upload CSV files to Google Sheets and view, edit, save, and convert the files. And you can open CSV files with various mobile apps, including Microsoft Excel (Android and iOS), Apple Numbers (iOS), and Google Sheets (Android and iOS).

Since CSV files are saved as plain text you can open them with a plain text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad (Windows) and Apple TextEdit (macOS).

How to convert a CSV file

Several applications, including Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, and LibreOffice Calc, can convert CSV files to other formats.

For example, you can select File → Save As in the Windows and Mac versions of Microsoft Excel to convert CSV files to one of the following formats:

  • .XLSX - Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
  • .XLS - Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (Legacy)
  • .XLSB - Microsoft Excel Binary Spreadsheet
  • .ODS - OpenDocument Spreadsheet
  • .DIF - Data Interchange Format
  • .PDF - Portable Document Format
  • .RTF - Rich Text Format
  • .TXT - Plain Text
  • .HTM, .HTML - HTML Webpage
  • .XML - Extensible Markup Language
  • .MHT, .MHTML - MIME HTML Archive
  • .XPS - XML Paper Specification (Windows only)
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Programs that open CSV files

Updated March 17, 2022

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