4 ways to open an XML file

4 ways to open an XML file
4 ways to open an XML file

Extensible Markup Language (XML) files actually do nothing. It is simply a way of storing data that can be easily read by other programs. Many of them use data stored in XML format. So you can open, edit and create an XML file with a text editor. Although it looks a lot like HTML, they are two distinct languages. XML is designed to hold data while HTML is designed to display it. HTML uses predetermined tags like


while XML allows you to create the tags you need.


Method 1 of 4: Use a text editor

Open XML Step 1

Step 1. Find the XML file you want to open

XML files are encoded in plain text, which is why you can open and read them with any text editor.

Open XML Step 2

Step 2. Right click on the file

Select Open with to open a menu of the different programs available.

Open XML Step 3

Step 3. Select Notepad (for Windows) or TextEdit (for Mac).

These are text editors preinstalled on these operating systems and you should find them directly in the list.

  • If you don't see them, you will have to go look for them in the tree structure. Notepad is located in% SystemRoot% system32notepad.exe and TextEdit is located in the Applications folder.
  • You can also use more advanced text editors like Notepad ++ and Textmate which can be useful for coloring the syntax and providing advanced options. However, you can see all the information you need using a simple editor.
Open XML Step 4

Step 4. Interpret the text on the screen

The XML file will now be opened in the text editor. The complexity of the file depends on the purpose of its creation. Use the tag labels to find the information you need. Usually these labels will be obvious and you can browse the tags to find the data you need.

  • You will probably see something like above. This indicates that the content of the file is in XML format.
  • This language uses custom tags to contain the data. Each of these tags was created by the program that uses them, so there is no standard syntax for them. For example, one XML file might present the tags and another the tags, but the two work similarly.
  • It is possible to include tags inside other tags, which creates a data tree. For example, each tag could contain other tags, for example and.

Method 2 of 4: Use an Internet browser

Open XML Step 5

Step 1. Find the XML file you want to open

Even though you can use any text editor to view an XML file (like you did above), it might be easier to navigate through it by opening it in an internet browser. Most of these browsers will nest the different tags and allow you to open and close each section of the tree.

Open XML Step 6

Step 2. Right click on the file

Select Open with to choose the program with which you want to play the file.

Open XML Step 7

Step 3. Choose the browser you want

Select the one of your choice from the list that appears, all of them allow you to view them. Often the Internet browser will already be in the list of default programs. If not, you're going to have to go get it.

Open XML Step 8

Step 4. Read the XML file with your browser

It will open in a tab of the software you have chosen. All content will be displayed on the screen and the browser will automatically create the indentation for the nested tags. This will allow you to read the data more easily.

Open XML Step 9

Step 5. Open and close the different sections

The advantage of using your browser to read XML files is that you can control what is displayed on the screen. Click the arrows or +/- buttons to expand or close the sections.

Method 3 of 4: Use Excel

Open XML Step 10

Step 1. Open Excel

It probably won't appear as a recommended program, so the easiest way to use it is to open Excel first.

It converts XML files into a table for easier viewing of data

Open XML Step 11

Step 2. Click File, then on To open.

A window should open.

Open XML Step 12

Step 3. Click the Browse button

This will allow you to find the file on your computer.

Open XML Step 13

Step 4. Open the XML file

You should be able to go to its location and see it, but if you don't see it in the folder, click the menu Type and select XML files.

Open XML Step 14

Step 5. Select As XML Table

This converts the XML file to an Excel table.

  • Excel should warn you that not all XML files follow a standard schema. Click on OK to have Excel build one for you by following the tags in the file.
Open XML Step 15

Step 6. Read the XML file

It will now be organized in a table based on the tag structure. You can then use Excel's sorting and filtering tools to customize the table.

You may have a harder time viewing complex XML files with this method. If they contain a lot of nested tags, you might be better off using an XML viewer

Method 4 of 4: Use an XML viewer

Open XML Step 16

Step 1. Download the viewer

If you need to open XML files often, you should get a specialized viewer or editor instead. They might make it easier for you to work with complex XML files. There are many, both paid and free. XML Explorer is a popular free viewer (xmlexplorer.codeplex.com).

Different programs meet different needs. If you need to create a lot of XML files, you should get a professional XML editor. It allows you to automate and collaborate on big projects

Open XML Step 17

Step 2. Open the XML file with the new software

Many of these programs will declare themselves as the default program for opening these files, allowing you to quickly open them by double-clicking. If that doesn't work, right click and select Open with. Find the program you just installed.

Open XML Step 18

Step 3. View the XML file

Some programs like XML Explorer allow you to open and close sections of the file, as well as to color (or not) the tags. More advanced programs might allow you to edit and create new entries.

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