CSV File

A CSV file is an MS Excel file format that is the standard for storing tabular data in text form. CSV files are often used to exchange data between different software applications.

What is A CSV File

Comma Separated Values files, or CSVs, are plain text files with each piece of data on its own line, and each line is delimited by commas or semicolons. They aid with moving information from one application to another. Tabular spreadsheet data from one program is converted into a CSV file, which is then used to import the information into another program.

In Microsoft Excel, CSVs function as a type of external data source that can be used to import and export data from spreadsheets. The CSV file format is compatible with all the major programming languages, including Python, Ruby, and JavaScript, which have built-in functions for reading and writing CSVs.

Favored for their flexibility, CSVs can be opened in a text editor such as Microsoft Notepad or Apple TextEdit, making it easy to view and edit datasets. They are also simpler to manipulate and analyze when opened in spreadsheet programs like Google Sheets or Apple Numbers.

Common uses for CSV files include:

  • Storing tabular data
  • Exporting and importing database information
  • Transferring large fields of data between software applications

How to Open a CSV File

The best way to open a CSV file is in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Try these quick guides to get started using CSV files in your preferred program.

How to Open a CSV File in MS Excel

Double-click on the file, which will open it in MS Excel by default.

How to Open a CSV File in Google Sheets

  • Open Google Sheets
  • Choose “File” → “Import” → “Upload” → “Select a file from your computer.”
  • Choose your CSV file from your Documents or Desktop folder.
  • Choose “Import data.”

Important Considerations:

  • You can’t directly import a CSV file from a URL, you’ll need to download it to your device and upload it to get the CSV to Google Sheets.
  • There are two types of CSV files: those with commas (,) and those with tabs (\t). The file extension for both is .csv. When exporting data from a database, you can specify which delimiter to use.
  • If you’re working with a CSV file that was created on a Mac, you may run into problems opening it in Windows because the two operating systems use different character encodings. To avoid this, you can use a free online converter.

How to Convert a CSV File

You might need to convert a CSV file to another format for several reasons. You may need to open the file in a spreadsheet program that doesn’t support CSV files. Or you may want to share the data with someone who doesn’t have a CSV reader. In these cases, converting the CSV file to another format is the best solution.

When you need to convert a CSV file to another format, such as XLSX or TSV, you can use a file converter like Zamzar or File ZigZag. These online tools let you upload your CSV file and choose the output format. Then, they’ll email you when the conversion is done.

CSV vs XLSX: What’s the Difference?

Both files are used to store tabular data, the primary difference is that .csv files store tabular data in plain text, while .xlsx files store tabular data in a binary format. Consequently, .csv files are easier to work with programmatically, while .xlsx files can only be opened and edited in Microsoft Excel.

Learn more about the difference between CSV and other file formats.

Exporting CSVs from

If you need to export data from your dashboard into a CSV file, you can do so from any dashboard page. When you log into your Dashboard, select “Export” from the top right-hand corner of any listings page to download the underlying data.