Can I edit an Excel file without Excel?

I need to edit an Excel document but I do not have Excel on this computer. When I open the doc it opens in Excel Viewer which does me no good at all.

Is there anything I can download (for free) that would let me?

I only need to insert text. Nothing fancy. But I will need to open it again later in Excel.

As I have just today discovered, yes: Openoffice will work just fine. If you don’t mind a largeish download, it seems to do most of the things that Office does, and for free. It might prompt you to save in its own format, but I believe it can save in .xls as well if you force it.

If you are a programmer, there are numerous APIs for dealing with Excel files, such as Spreadsheet::WriteExcel for Perl. If not, the best thing I could reccomend would be to download OpenOffice and have a whack at it. is free software that is a complete replacement for MS Office.

OOo reads and writes MS files (Excel, Word, Powerpoint) and includes database functionality - it will connect to any ODBC datasource out there.

Download here:

It is rather large (60 MB or larger, depending on current version and OS.) It is worth it, though.

Open Office is THE free open source alternative to MS Office. In a word, it rocks. “Calc” is its spreadsheet program. It handles opening excel docs and saving in excel format quite nicely.

Check it out here:

BTW, I hope you have some high speed internet action, 'cause it’s a little on the large side. Well worth it, though!


Hmmm, I wonder if OpenOffice is popular here on the SDMBs?

nope, not a programmer … just lost in the world of free downloads …

Thanks for the tip ! I’m halfway through installation … I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I kind of feel like I’m joining a club!

WOW ! Thanks ! You’ve changed my life !

Congratulations to the 4 simulposters. :slight_smile:

For the record, I just opened a XLS file (single worksheet) using Notepad and it was a big HTML page with just a table, table markup, and text inside the table cells. I mean I was looking at HTML, not a web page.

So if you’re in a pinch and just need to change some text, you could easily open up in notepad, search for the text and change.

Also, if you were to save the XLS file in Excel as a CSV you can open it in notepad and the values would be separated by commas and qualified with “”. Then you can send the file for editing to any machine with a text editor (such as Notepad) to be edited.

But now that you’ve got OpenOffice and your life has changed forever, forget I mentioned this :wink:

You were looking at XML, actually, which isn’t the same thing. Only relatively recent versions of Excel use XML by default, though.

I was going to suggest Sun Microsystem’s **StarOffice ** but it appears they are charging for that now. I used that a few years ago when I was working on a project that ran on OS/2. It was so nice to be able to look at Word and Excel files without having to shut down and reboot to Windows.

Star Office IS Sun supports the OOo project with money and programmers. OOo is free, and Sun sells a branded version with some extra bells and whistles that is calls Star Office.

OOo started out as Star Office. Sun bought Star Office from the German company that wrote it. Sun then open the source and got the OOo project going.