How do I open a file with a .tsv extension as a .csv file on a Mac using OpenOffice Calc


I’m new to using a Mac (no choice). The files are generated from an automated system (several hundred a day and have a .tsv extension (can’t change it for every file). The files are UTF-8 encoded text files with TAB separated content.

I need to be able to double click the file and have it open in Libre Office Calc. Even if it has to ask me to choose the delimiter to process it with.

I’ve no idea if this is possible. On Windows, I’d associate .tsv with Excel and all would be “just done”.

I can’t even find Calc for LibreOffice, only the in my Applications directory - again, this may be me - I’m VERY VERY new to Mac and the differences are sometimes confounding.

If I try to open Libre Office first and then open a Spreadsheet file, the open file dialogue doesn’t allow me to pick the .tsv files. They are all greyed out.

Really stuck. Renaming the files first, editing the content as I need, and then reversing the rename takes forever on a mac - OK I know this bit is me, I’m so used to doing everything from the keyboard and having to constantly go to the mouse to do things just beeps me off a bit.

If I get Finder to open .tsv files all the time, they open in the word processor part.

Any useful suggestions would be brilliant!

Thank you.


Do the problem files contain any non-ASCII characters? Calc seems to open those as text documents – I bet it interferes with the filetype determination somehow.

Sorry, didn’t read your question thoroughly enough the first time. So, here’s my edited and hopefully improved answer. :wink:

The general procedure to associate files and applications is this:

  1. Select any .tsv file by clicking on it once.
  2. Then press cmd + i (or ctrl + mouse click) to open its information window.
  3. In that window there’s a section “Open with:” (or something similar, I’m just guessing, as my Mac has a German UI) where you can select the application that opens the file when you double click it. Select You may have to search for it. The standard installation directory in Mac OS X is /Applications.
  4. Additionally, to apply this modification to all similar files, click the button below that, saying something like “Change all…”. is a bundle or an app in Mac OS X terminology. It’s basically a directory, and there are ways to look at its contents in Finder or in a terminal. But there’s usually no need for that and therefore Finder makes it harder to enter an app directory than other directories.

However, instead of starting Calc via you may also start Calc directly. The simplest method is to open a terminal (/Application/Utilities/ and enter

/Applications/ File.tsv &

In case you want to automate the processing of those .tsv files, you have many of the usual Unix tools available in Mac OS X out of the box, including Perl, Python and Ruby.

To install additional tools I suggest the Macports ( or the Fink ( installer. They require Xcode (including the “Command Line Tools”), Apple’s compiler for C, C++ and Objective C, which you can download from App Store for free.