I have a bunch of tabbed (for columns) txt files that I made in TextEdit.

TextEdit is a very simple application though and can't really do a whole lot.

I want to be able to manipulate my columns:

  • order alphabetically

  • move column 1 to column 2

  • add column 3 in between columns 1 and 2


  • what software can I use to modify my tabbed txt files?

2 Answers 2


LibreOffice Calc


This answer assumes the format is a .txt file with tab-separated values.


  • Available on OS X ✓
  • Order according to values ✓
  • Insert or move columns around ✓


  • Free ✓
  • Available on Windows and Linux ✓


Let's start with a file named tsv.txt:

CHOP    1985-10-24
DOE 1942-04-20
SANTA   1337-12-25

Open the file

First, I need to open it in LibreOffice Calc. Trying to open it from LibreOffice will trigger the Writer. Instead, I had to right-click the file and choose Open with1.

Calc came up with this window, I only made sure the tabs were checked as separators.

Open TSV file

Insert a column

Right click the header of the column where you want to insert one and click Insert Columns Left.

Right click the header

A new column is added. Fill it and save (Ctrl + S). Now tsv.txt's content is the following:

CHOP    Cyrille 1985-10-24
DOE Jane    1942-04-20
SANTA   Nick    1337-12-25

Sort data

Select the range to sort, go to Data > Sort and set your parameters:

Sort parameters

Save again, and admire your file:

SANTA   Nick    1337-12-25
DOE Jane    1942-04-20
CHOP    Cyrille 1985-10-24

Other functions?

Basically any data manipulation you can do with a spreadsheet, you can do with Calc on your TSV file. This should meet all your needs.


I think most of the commonly used spreadsheet tools can do just as well. Excel has similar functionalities.

1 I made the demo using Ubuntu, but I guess most of it is easy to transpose to OS X. This link shows how to open a TSV txt file in Calc.


Any spreadsheet with an csv import feature (which allows you to use tabs as the separator rather than commas) will sort you fine. This is the vast majority of spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice Calc, OpenOffice Calc etc.

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