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Can Numbers ’09 (part of the iWork suite) import XML files? Specifically, the format created by Excel when exporting as "XML Spreadsheet 2003."

I can't just use Excel's native format because the files are generated for our clients by a web app.

If Numbers can't handle these files, are there any other plaintext formats that could be used? I could use csv, but I would prefer to store formatting within the exported file itself.

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What's the resulting file format—.xml? Have you tried an import, and if so, what were the results? – Dori Oct 21 '10 at 4:47
The resulting format is .xls, only because I am forcing it to output like that so file associations work. As most users simply freak out with a .xml and the native viewer. – Brendan Bernard Oct 21 '10 at 5:51

Numbers ’09 supports Excel native format (.xls) but it can’t convert from an Excel XML Spreadsheet. In fact, if you rename it as “xls” and try to open it (trying to fool Numbers), you’ll probably see all the XML but not the actual spreadsheet. Which is more scary than Psychosis II back in the 80s.

Your only bet is some CVS or TEXT format, which excel can even export with Macintosh format for line endings and carrier return (if I’m not mistaken).

The big drawback is that all format and binary stuff is automagically lost in translation (certain pun intended). ;)

You’ll get the data, but not the format.

Another alternative is trying to automate the Excel XML to Excel Native format, even if your webapp outputs a XML, you could try to “transform them” before anything else.

For that, I haven’t investigated but you can start with a google query like this. There seem to be some Windows solutions, maybe something you can use/try.

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Good ideas, but I want to do something more automated for our users. – Brendan Bernard Oct 22 '10 at 6:46
@Brendan sadly, there isn’t one that I know at the moment. – Martín Marconcini Oct 22 '10 at 13:32
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I ended up changing the output to native .xls format by using the php wrapper from The files now open fine in both native windows Excel and iWorks Numbers '09.

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Could you tell me what you did for your .xls file to open up in iWorks? Currently my document is showing xml code instead of the actual date. – Pavan Jun 23 '14 at 2:52

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