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When opening standard CSV files in Excel you may find that Excel did not recognize the fields and simply displays all data in the first column.

The problem is:

  • The standard field delimiters for CSV files are commas: ,
  • And on American Windows version the comma is set as default for the “List Separator”.
  • But on European Windows versions this character is reserved as the Decimal Symbol and the “List Separator” is set by default to the semicolon: ;

So you have three solutions:

  • Change the CSV file extension to TXT (when you open a TXT file with Excel it will start the text file import wizard where you can choose the delimiter)
  • Replace all “,” with “;” in your CSV file(s)
  • Change your regional and language settings
The last solution is my preferred one. To change regional settings go to Start>Control Panel>Regional and Language Options. Click “Additional Settings”.
Enter “.” for Decimal Symbol and “,” for “List Separator”.

Now when you open a CSV file in Excel it will automatically find the data fields and open it appropriately.