Tech

What Is an XML File?

How to open, edit and convert XML files

need to know

  • An XML file is an Extensible Markup Language file.
  • Open one with the Online XML Viewer, Visual Studio Code or Notepad++.
  • Convert to JSON, CSV, HTML and more with the same programs.

This article explains what XML files are and where they are used, what programs can open a file, and how to convert one to another text-based format like JSON, PDF, or CSV.

What is an XML file?

An XML file is an Extensible Markup Language file. They are plain text files that do nothing by themselves other than explain the movement, structure, and storage of data.

An RSS feed is a common example of an XML-based file.

Some XML files are Cinelerra Video Project files used with the Cinelerra video editing program instead. The file contains project-related settings, such as a list of previous edits made to the project, as well as paths to media files’ locations.

Lifewire / Miguel Co.

XLM files are not the same as XML files, although they seem related because the file extensions are similar.

How to open XML file

Many programs open XML files, including Code Beautify’s Online XML Viewer and some web browsers. A few popular programs also edit XML files.

Some notable free XML editors include Notepad++ and XML Notepad 2007. EditiX and Adobe Dreamweaver are some other popular XML editors, but they’re only free to use if you can get the trial version. Microsoft’s popular Visual Studio Code editor handles XML files like a champ.

Just because an XML file can be opened and viewed easily doesn’t mean it does. he is doing anything. Many different types of programs use XML as a way to store their data in a standardized way, but actually using An XML file for a particular purpose requires you to know what that particular XML file is storing data for.

For example, the XML format is used for MusicXML files, which is an XML-based score format. You could certainly open one of these XML files in any text editor to see what kind of data is in there, but that’s really only useful in a program like Finale NotePad.

Because XML files are text-based files, any text editor, including the built-in Notepad tool in Windows, can correctly view and edit the contents of the XML file. The custom XML editors mentioned above are better for editing XML files as they understand the structure of the file. A standard text editor is not that easy to use to edit XML files.

However, if you want to go that route, check out our list of the Best Free Text Editors for some of our favourites.

Cinelerra Video Project files using the XML file extension can be opened with the Cinelerra software for Linux. The program used to be split into Heroine Virtual and Community Version, but has now been combined into a single version.

If you still can’t open your file, make sure you don’t confuse it with just a file with a similar file extension name, such as an XMP, XMF, or ML file.

How to convert XML file

xml list

To convert an XML file to another format, the best solution is to use one of the editors mentioned earlier. The program that created the XML file could possibly save the same file in a different format.

For example, a plain text editor that can open a text document as XML can usually save the file in another text-based format such as TXT. However, you get nothing from this option other than just changing the file extension.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, you can try Code Beautify’s online XML to JSON converter. This tool allows you to convert XML to JSON by pasting the XML code into the website and downloading the .JSON file to your computer. You can also browse the XML file on your computer or upload a file from a URL.

Of course, an XML to JSON converter is only useful if that’s what you’re looking for. Here are other free online XML converters that might be more helpful to you:

  • XML to HTML
  • XML to CSV
  • XML to XSD converter
  • XML to PDF

Here are some free converters that convert for XML instead from XML:

  • XLS/XLSX to XML
  • SQL to XML
  • CSV to XML converter
  • JSON to XML converter

Normally, you cannot replace a file extension (such as an XML file extension) with one that your computer will recognize and wait for the new renamed file to be available. In most cases, a true file format conversion should be done using one of the methods described above. However, because XML is text-based, renaming the extension can be useful in some cases.

More information about XML files

XML files are formatted with tags similar to other markup language files, such as HTML files. You can see a sample XML file on the Microsoft website.

Since Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft has been using XML-based formats for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with indications of the respective file formats: .DOCX, .XLSX, and .PPTX. Microsoft provides a detailed explanation of the benefits of using these XML-based file types.

Some other XML-based file types include EDS, XSPF, FDX, SEARCH-MS, CMBL, APPLICATION, and DAE files.

Owned by W3Schools lots Information about XML files if you are looking for a detailed overview of how to work with them.

Common questions

  • How to open an XML file in Excel?

    In Excel, select File > Openand select your XML file. In the pop-up window below, select . as an XML table. This will display your XML file as a table in Excel. However, it will not work well when each XML file is viewed as a table.

  • How to open an XML file in Word?

    In Word, select File > Openand select your XML file. This will open the file in Word. However, XML files are rarely formatted to be useful in Word without any Word-specific conversion or design, so your mileage may vary.


See more

What Is an XML File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert XML Files

What to Know
An XML file is an Extensible Markup Language file.
Open one with Online XML Viewer, Visual Studio Code, or Notepad++.
Convert to JSON, CSV, HTML, and others with those same programs.

This article describes what XML files are and where they’re used, which programs can open one, and how to convert one to another text-based format like JSON, PDF, or CSV.

What Is an XML File?

An XML file is an Extensible Markup Language file. They are plain text files that don’t do anything in and of themselves except describe the transportation, structure, and storage of data.

An RSS feed is one common example of an XML-based file.

Some XML files are instead Cinelerra Video Project files used with the Cinelerra video editing program. The file holds project-related settings like a list of past edits made to the project as well as paths to where the media files are located.

Lifewire / Miguel CoWhile they do appear related because their file extensions are similar, XLM files aren’t the same as XML files.
How to Open an XML File

Many programs open XML files, including Code Beautify’s Online XML Viewer and some web browsers. Several popular programs edit XML files as well.

Some notable free XML editors include Notepad++ and XML Notepad 2007. EditiX and Adobe Dreamweaver are a couple other popular XML editors but they are only free to use if you can manage to get a trial version. Microsoft’s popular Visual Studio Code editor handles XML files like a champ.

Just because an XML file can easily be opened and viewed doesn’t mean that it’ll do anything. Lots of different types of programs use XML as a way to store their data in a standard way, but actually using an XML file for a specific purpose requires that you know what that particular XML file is storing data for.

For example, the XML format is used for MusicXML files, an XML-based sheet music format. You could certainly open one of those XML files in any text editor to see what sort of data is there, but it’s really only useful in a program like Finale NotePad.

Since XML files are text-based files, any text editor, including the built-in Notepad tool in Windows, will be able to properly display and edit the XML file’s contents. The dedicated XML editors mentioned above are better for editing XML files because they understand the file’s structure. A standard text editor isn’t quite as easy to use for editing XML files.

However, if you want to go that route, see our Best Free Text Editors list for some of our favorites.

Cinelerra Video Project files that use the XML file extension can be opened with the Cinelerra software for Linux. The program used to be split into two, called Heroine Virtual and Community Version, but they’re now combined into one.

If you still can’t open your file, make sure you’re not confusing it with a file that just has a similar file extension name, like an XMP, XMF, or ML file.
How to Convert an XML File

The best solution to converting an XML file to another format is to use one of the editors mentioned already. The program that’s creating the XML file is more than likely able to save the same file to a different format.

For example, a simple text editor, which can open a text document like XML, can usually save the file to another text-based format like TXT. However, you gain nothing from this switch other than just changing the file extension.

If you’re looking for a quick solution, you can try the online XML to JSON Converter from Code Beautify. That tool lets you convert XML to JSON by pasting the XML code into the website and then downloading the .JSON file to your computer. You can also browse your computer for the XML file or load one from a URL.

Of course, an XML-to-JSON converter is only helpful if that’s what you’re after. Here are some other free online XML converters that might be more useful for you:

XML to HTML
XML to CSV
XML to XSD
XML to PDF

Here are some free converters that convert to XML instead of from XML:

XLS/XLSX to XML
SQL to XML
CSV to XML
JSON to XML
You cannot usually change a file extension (like the XML file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place in most cases. However, since XML is text-based, renaming the extension might be helpful in some situations.
More Information on XML Files

XML files are formatted with tags, similar to other markup language files like HTML files. You can see an XML sample file on Microsoft’s website.

Since Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft has been using XML-based formats for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, indicative in their respective file formats: .DOCX, .XLSX, and .PPTX. Microsoft offers a detailed explanation of the benefits of using these XML-based file types.

Some other XML-based file types include EDS, XSPF, FDX, SEARCH-MS, CMBL, APPLICATION, and DAE files.

W3Schools has lots of information on XML files if you’re looking for a detailed look at how to work with them.

FAQ

How do you open a XML file in Excel?
From within Excel, select File > Open, and choose your XML file. In the following pop-up, select As an XML table. This will display your XML file as a table within Excel. Though, not every XML file will work well being displayed as a table.

How do you open a XML file in Word?
Within Word, select File > Open, and choose your XML file. This will open the file in Word. However, XML files are rarely formatted to be useful in Word without any kind of conversion or design specifically for Word, so your mileage may vary.

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