A Guide to Opening a Text File in Microsoft Excel

A Guide to Opening a Text File in Microsoft Excel

Opening a text file in Microsoft Excel can be a straightforward process, but it also offers options for customization depending on the structure of your text file. Here’s a guide to help you through the various steps and options available:

1. Start Microsoft Excel


First, open Microsoft Excel on your computer. You can do this by searching for Excel in your computer’s search bar or finding it in the list of applications.

2. Open the File Menu

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Once Excel is open, locate the “File” menu at the top left corner of the screen. Click on “File” to open the dropdown menu.

3. Select “Open”

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In the “File” menu, you’ll see several options. Look for the “Open” option and click on it. This action opens a new pane or window, asking you where you want to open the file from. You have options like “Recent Workbooks,” “This PC,” “Browse,” and possibly others like “OneDrive” if you’re signed into your Microsoft account.

4. Choose “Browse”

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Click on “Browse” to open the File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac), which allows you to navigate through your computer’s directories.

5. Locate Your Text File

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In the File Explorer or Finder window, navigate to the location where your text file is saved. Text files can have extensions like .txt, .csv, or others.

6. Select the File Type

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Before you open the file, you might need to select the type of file you’re looking for. By default, Excel looks for Excel files. To see your text file, click on the dropdown menu next to the “File name” text box (usually at the bottom of the window), which might say “All Excel Files” or something similar. Change this to “All Files (.)” or specifically to “Text Files (*.txt; *.csv)” if available.

7. Open the Text File

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Once you’ve located your text file, click on it to select it, then click on the “Open” button.

8. Text Import Wizard (Optional)

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Depending on your version of Excel and the type of text file, you might see the Text Import Wizard. This tool helps you specify how your data is separated and how you want it displayed in Excel. For example, if you’re opening a CSV file, you can specify the delimiter (such as commas, tabs, etc.) that separates your data into columns.

  • Step 1 of the Wizard: Choose the type of data (Delimited or Fixed Width). Most text files are Delimited.
  • Step 2 of the Wizard: Choose your delimiter (such as comma, tab, etc.). You’ll also see a preview of how your data will appear.
  • Step 3 of the Wizard: Select the data format for each column (General, Text, Date, etc.). You can also skip columns you don’t want to import.

After adjusting your settings, click “Finish” to complete the import process.

9. Adjust Your Data (If Necessary)

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Once your text file is open in Excel, you may need to adjust its appearance. This can include resizing columns, changing text formats, or filtering and sorting data.

10. Save Your File as an Excel Workbook

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After you’ve opened and adjusted your text file in Excel, you may want to save it as an Excel workbook (.xlsx) for future use. To do this, go to the “File” menu, select “Save As,” choose where you want to save it, and select “Excel Workbook (*.xlsx)” from the “Save as type” dropdown menu. Give your file a name, and click “Save.”


By following these steps, you can easily open any text file in Microsoft Excel. This process allows you to take advantage of Excel’s powerful data manipulation and analysis tools, even with data that wasn’t originally in an Excel format. Remember, the specific steps and options might vary slightly depending on your version of Excel and your operating system, but the overall process remains largely the same.

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