What is a .tbl file and how to open it on your computer

Mduduzi Sibisi
by Mduduzi Sibisi
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How to open a .tbl file

Almost surprisingly, the .tbl file extension is fairly common. A large variety of programs use it. Despite its general ubiquity, you may still be curious about what information a TBL file contains.  In this guide, you’ll learn what a .tbl file is and how to open it.

What is a .tbl file?

As you might have guessed, TBL is a shortened version of the word ‘table’, and thus what we can ascertain from this is that it contains tabular data for programs to use. This may confuse you a bit.

Why would a program use a .tbl file instead of a database or database file? TBL files can be a lot more flexible and easier to work with than databases, especially if you’re working with a small set of data. They’re also particularly great for handling and archiving directory list data.

While software like Adobe Table, ArcView, Creo, FX AccuCharts, Chem3D Ultra, and AutoCAD Civil 3D can be used to create and access .tbl files, you can create and modify your own using Microsoft Excel. All you need to do is create a table using Excel then save it as a .csv file.

You need to make sure every entry of the table is separated by a comma (comma-delimited) before saving the file. Once the file is saved you can then convert it into a .tbl file by changing the extension.

In gaming, .tbl files are used for creating mods. Games usually save information in the form of XML and TBL files. These can be accessed and changed using a text editor or Excel.

How do I open a .tbl file?

1. Using Autodesk Civil 3D

  1. Download and install Autodesk Civil 3D.
  2. Windows should assign Autodesk Civil 3D as the default file-opener for .tbl file-types.
  3. After setting up Autodesk Civil 3D, you should be able to open the .tbl file by simply double-clicking on it.

You may have noticed that a long list of CAD (computer-aided design) programs use .tbl files. An especially popular one is Autodesk Civil 3D.

2. Using Microsoft Excel

  1. Run Microsoft Excel. Any version post-2010 should do.
  2. Excel should launch on the welcome screen. Click on ‘Open Other Workbooks‘ from the bottom right corner of the screen.
  3. Click on Computer>Browse.
  4. Use the Open dialog to navigate to your .tbl file and open it. But make sure that “All Files (.)” is selected from the file-type menu.Open .tbl using Excel
  5.  This will then open the Text Import Wizard. On the first screen of the wizard, make sure that the radio button marked ‘Delimited‘ is selected. You can leave everything as is and then click on next.Excel Text Import Wizard 1
  6.  The next screen allows you to select which delimiters separate the data in the .tbl file. In most cases, a comma or semi-colon acts as the delimiter. You can check the Data Preview to see what separates the data. Once you’re certain, you can set the list of delimiters by ticking the right checkboxes. Alternatively, you can tick all the boxes, except the one marked ‘others’. Also, make sure you tick the ‘Treat consecutive delimiters as one’ checkbox. Check that the data preview looks right and then click on ‘Next‘.Import Wizard Screen 2
  7.  On the next screen, you review the data as well as format it. If you’re unsure, leave everything as is and click on the ‘Finish‘ button.

If you can’t use Autodesk to open the file, then a good alternative is Microsoft Excel.

If neither Autodesk Civil 3D or Microsoft Excel can open the file, then you can try using a text editor to open the text. Be careful not to modify or change anything in your file, as this may stop some programs from working.

If you have any other questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to check them out.


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