What Is an ODS File?

How to open, edit, and convert ODS files

ODS Files
ODS Files.

A file with the .ODS file extension is most likely an OpenDocument Spreadsheet file that contains spreadsheet information like text, charts, pictures, formulas and numbers, all placed within the confines of a sheet full of cells.

Outlook Express 5 Mailbox files use the ODS file extension too, but to hold email messages, newsgroups and other mail settings; they have nothing to do with spreadsheet files.

How to Open an ODS File

OpenDocument Spreadsheet files can be opened with the free Calc program that comes as part of the OpenOffice suite. Included in that suite are some other applications like a word processor (Writer) and presentation program (Impress). You get all of them when you download the suite but you can choose which ones to install (the ODS file is only relevant in Calc).

LibreOffice (the Calc portion) and Calligra Suite are two other suites similar to OpenOffice that can open ODS files as well. Microsoft Excel works too but it's not free.

If you're on a Mac, some of those programs above work to open the ODS file, but so does NeoOffice.

Chrome users can install the ODT, ODP, ODS Viewer extension to open online ODS files without having to download them first.

No matter what operating system you use, you can upload the ODS file to Google Drive to store it online and preview it in your browser, where you can also download it to a new format (see the next section below to see how that works).

DocsPal and Zoho Sheet are two other free online ODS viewers. Unlike Google Drive, you don't need to have a user account with these websites in order to view the file.

Though it isn't super useful, you could also open an OpenDocument Spreadsheet program with a file unzip utility like 7-Zip. Doing this won't let you view the spreadsheet like you can in Calc or Excel but it does let you extract out any embedded images and see a preview of the sheet.

You need to have Outlook Express installed in order to open ODS files that are associated with that program. See this Google Groups question on importing an ODS file from a backup if you're in that situation but you're not sure how to get the messages out of the file.

How to Convert ODS Files

OpenOffice Calc can convert an ODS file to XLS, PDF, CSV, OTS, HTML, XML and a number of other related file formats. The same is true with the other free, downloadable ODS openers from above.

If you need to convert ODS to XLSX or any other file format supported by Excel, just open the file in Excel and then save it as a new file. Another option is to use the free online ODS converter Zamzar.

Google Drive is another way you can convert an ODS file online. Upload the file there and then right-click it and choose to open it with Google Sheets. Once you have, use the File > Download as menu in Google Sheets to save it as an XLSX, PDF, HTML, CSV or TSV file.

Zoho Sheet and Zamzar are two other ways to convert ODS files online. Zamzar is unique in that it can convert the ODS file to DOC for use in Microsoft Word, as well as to MDB and RTF.

More Information on ODS Files

ODS files that are in the OpenDocument Spreadsheet file format are XML-based, much like the XLSX files used with the MS Excel spreadsheet program.

This means all the files are held in the ODS file much like an archive, with folders for things like pictures and thumbnails, and other file types like XMLs and a manifest.rdf file.

Outlook Express 5 is the only version of Outlook Express that uses ODS files. Other versions of the email client use DBX files for the same purpose. Both ODS and DBX files are similar to the PST files used with Microsoft Outlook.

Still Can't Open Your File?

The first thing you should do if you can't open your file with the programs mentioned above is to double-check the file extension spelling. Some file formats use a file extension that might look like ".ODS" but that doesn't mean that the formats have anything to do with each other or that they can open with the same programs.

One example is ODP files. While they're actually OpenDocument Presentation files that do open with an OpenOffice program, they don't open with Calc.

Another is ODM files, which are shortcut files associated with the OverDrive app, but they have nothing to do with spreadsheet files or ODS files.