Opening TAB files

Have a problem opening a .TAB file? We collect information about file formats and can explain what TAB files are. Additionally we recommend software suitable for opening or converting such files.

What is the .TAB file type?

The .tab filename extension primarily designates the MapInfo Table File (.tab) file type associated with a proprietary MapInfo format. MapInfo is an advanced commercial desktop GIS (Geographical Information System) software developed by Pitney Bowes Software (formerly, MapInfo Corp.). MapInfo natively stores data in its private dataset format, often referred to as MapInfo/TAB.

The .tab file is a regular ASCII text file that defines the dataset's table structure. It is the main file in a MapInfo/TAB dataset—a multiple-file entity consisting, besides the .tab file, of the .dat (a dBASE database), .map (map objects), .id (map bindings), and several other optional files. MapInfo native datasets (.tab, etc.) can be exported into the MapInfo Interchange Format (MIF/MID) supported by many GIS solutions. Alternatively, certain third-party GIS software allows to directly import, serve, or access such TAB datasets.

The .tab extension is also used as a generic label for files containing tab-separated values (TSV). A tab-separated values file (.tab, .tsv) is a text file of arbitrary strings (values) delimited with tabulation characters (hexadecimal code: 09). Along with comma-separated values files (CSV), TAB files are commonly used for exported tabular database or spreadsheet records that can be imported in many applications, including e-mail clients, spreadsheet processors, and DBMS. Such files may also bear the generic .txt extension, and any of them can be directly viewed or edited in a text editor.

In databasing, the .tab extension stands for the SQL Table Script (.tab) file type. SQL (Structured Query Language) is a special formalized language to manipulate databases and fetch information through queries. The .tab file is an SQL script. It is a regular text file with a set of SQL instructions specifically intended to manipulate (create, modify, or delete) database tables. Such table scripts are used in many database systems such as Oracle RDBMS, Microsoft SQL Server, and others. Any SQL table script (.tab) can be created or modified in a text editor.

With reference to TablEdit, a versatile paid tablature editor by M.Leschemelle, the .tab extension is used for both binary and ASCII tablature files created with earlier versions of TablEdit. The current TablEdit release uses its TablEdit Format (.tef) for new tablatures, while still supporting import of .tab files.

Software to open or convert TAB files

You can open TAB files with the following programs: 

Popular formats