CSV is a very common format for sharing large amounts of data, mostly because it’s so simple– you can view the contents almost anywhere, at least in theory.
You may not always have a full-featured spreadsheet on hand, of course, but fortunately there are some excellent free tools around to help you work with your files.
NirSoft’s CSVFileView is “just” an editor, but the program still delivers far more than you’d expect from its 125KB download.
It’s able to open CSV or tab-delimited files, for instance. The data is displayed in the usual NirSoft grid where you can sort, hide or rearrange columns as required.
Surprise extras include SQL where-like filters, as well as options to export the file as tab or comma-delimited, an HTML report, XML and JSON formats.
CSVPad also opens CSV files almost regardless of the separator type, automatically detecting the correct format on its own.
Editing tools include options to add and remove columns and rows, copy and paste data and edit individual fields.
Unusually the program can also export your data in ODS and XLS formats, as well as CSV, HTML and XML.
Ron’s Editor Lite is probably the most polished viewer here. Drag and drop a CSV file onto Editor, it’s displayed in a spreadsheet-type view, and you can scroll through it, select files, lines or columns, sort the document by specific fields, copy selections to the clipboard, and more.
A filter system and powerful search tool (with regular expression support) helps you drill down to the data you need.
The editor is so capable it feels like a full spreadsheet, but beware: the Lite edition can only save a maximum of 1,000 lines. Still, that might be enough for some people, and the program’s viewer is so good we’d keep it around just for that.
ReCsv is an open-source Java-based CSV editor built for more demanding technical users.
You don’t just have to hit File > Open and hope the program detects your format correctly, for instance. ReCsv gives you manual control over data and quote characters, row setup and more, particularly handy for decoding awkward files which other apps can’t read.
Other advanced features include scripting support, enabling you to automate just about any data processing task.
CSV Buddy is much more basic, but still offers some file-handling flexibility – you can choose delimiter and quote characters, encoding and more – and is much easier to use.
The program allows editing fields, columns or rows, and has basic (like, very,very basic) search and filtering tools.
When you’re done you can save the file using the same CSV settings (characters, encoding etc), tweak them as required, or export them to HTML, XML and more.
All of these tools run on Windows, but reCsv also has builds for Linux and Mac.