What is an .ODS file?

The .ODS format is an open-source spreadsheet file that offers a free alternative to the popular Excel format (XLSX).

It gives you the opportunity to store and format data using neatly divided columns and rows. The ODS format can also include charts and graphs, with all elements organised by cells.

What does .ODS stand for?

ODS stands for OpenDocument Spreadsheet, meaning that it’s an open-source spreadsheet file. The format is often created using free LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice software.

History of the .ODS file.

The ODS file type was developed as part of the O pen D ocument F ormat (ODF) family, which provides open-source alternatives to common Microsoft files.

The .ODS format complements other ODF file types, such as ODT (for word processing) and ODP (for presentations).

ODS and other members of the ODF family were created through the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (Oasis). A range of ODF versions have been developed over the years. They include:

  • Version 1.0 in 2005
  • Version 1.1 in 2007
  • Version 1.2 in 2011.

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What are .ODS files used for?

ODS files are built to store lists and tables of data in a logical spreadsheet format. They’re compatible with a variety of apps, such as OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Excel and Google Sheets.

How to use an ODS file is up to you, but you can:

Organise and order important data.

Use different filters to sort data alphabetically or in ascending or descending order. This can make things like staff records and product details more digestible.

Track projects and budgets.

ODS files allow you to order figures, dates and names into neat rows and columns. This makes it easier to create clear timetables and calculate budgets.

Create useful charts and graphs.

Convert your raw data into scannable charts to show trends or patterns over time.

Discover more document file types and Open Doc formats, today.

Pros and cons of .ODS files.

Here are the main advantages and disadvantages to weigh up before you create or view an .ODS file.


  • Store masses of data in one location. The ODS format is designed to handle large volumes of data, all at once. This keeps everything tidy and simple.
  • Set up calculations. You can apply different equations and formulas to the data in your ODS spreadsheet, to reduce the amount of time you spend doing complicated sums.
  • Easy to convert into different formats. You have the option to convert your ODS sheet to other file types. These can include XLS, XLT and PXL.


  • Large documents can take longer to load. Files containing lots of calculations, filters and data might prove slower to open and navigate. This could ultimately make them more cumbersome to manage.
  • Risk of human error. ODS sheets can involve plenty of manual data entry when first setting them up, which may increase the chances of typos or errors.
  • Potential loss of features when converting files. Switching between ODS and other file types like XLSX could lead to formatting issues. Certain features might be unavailable in some programs also.

How to open an. ODS file.

Here’s how to view .ODS files on a Windows computer:

  1. Download a compatible programme, such as Microsoft Office or Apache OpenOffice
  2. Right-click on the ODS file.
  3. Click ‘Open with’. Then choose the software you want to open the file with.

To read ODS files on a Mac:

  1. Ensure that you have compatible software install, then open the programme.
  2. Click ‘File’ and ‘Open’
  3. Select the name of your file, followed by ‘Open’.
  4. If a dialogue box appears, click ‘Allow’.

How to create and edit an. ODS file.

ODS files are normally created using the Calc programme in LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice. You can often save a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets using the .ODS format too. Just click ‘Save as’ to see if this is an option.

Since ODS sheets contain easy-access data, it’s straightforward to edit and add to their content as you go. Font sizes, cell colours, formulas and figures can all be tweaked or expanded as and when you need to.

How to convert an ODS file to PDF.

Many file types can be transformed into a professional-looking and versatile PDF using Adobe’s free online conversion tool.

For the .ODS format, you can also first convert your file into an Excel document (see the instructions below) and then convert your Excel to PDF online in seconds.

Learn more about similar file types to .ODS.


Discover this open-source word-processing format, which comes from the same family as ODS.


Discover how to create attractive slides using this presentation file format.


Explore this alternative spreadsheet file type, which is created by Excel.


Review the differences between XLS and XLSX files using our handy guide.

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How do I convert an .ODS file to Excel?

You’ll find a range of convertor tools online to help you switch from the ODS format to both XLS and XLSX. It’s usually just a case of uploading or dragging the file into the tool. Excel can normally open ODS files too. Simply browse for the relevant file name and click ‘Open’.

What is the main difference between ODS vs XLSX?

The main difference between ODS and XLSX comes down to cost and features. XLSX is native to Excel, which you’ll normally need to buy for your computer. On the other hand, ODS documents may lack some of the functions and features of Excel files. However, they’re usually free to create with open-source software.

Can an iPhone open an .ODS file?

You’ll generally need to install a compatible app to open an ODS file on your iPhone. That’s because the ODS file format isn’t supported by iOS on its own.

Can Adobe read .ODS files?

Both Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat DC can both read ODS files. To open an ODS file in Adobe Acrobat Reader, simply navigate to the "File" menu, select "Open," and then locate and select the ODS file you wish to open. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the ODS file directly into the Acrobat Reader window.

Once the file is open, you can view and navigate the spreadsheet within the Adobe software. Note that some features of the original ODS file may not be fully supported in Adobe Acrobat, so you may experience some limitations when viewing or editing the file.

Is it free to create files in the ODS format?

Yes, you should be able to create files in the ODS format for free using open-source software. You’ll then be able to view your spreadsheet using any programme that is compliant with the Open Document Format.