Files that contain the file extension TAB are associated with more than ten programs and applications and various file types. Some of the primary programs and applications include ArcView, MapInfo, AutoDesk, and Microsoft. TAB files contain data and information related to the program that created the file.
If the file extension TAB is related to ArcView, the file is a graphics and image file type that contains maps, models, analysis data, lines, shapes, objects, layouts, and other elements which are necessary for performing spatial analysis. ArcView is a program currently called ArcGIS by ESRI; it provides a way to convert data into information that can be analyzed in a Geographic Information System (GIS).
TAB files that are associated with MapInfo are a Geographic Information System file type that contains geometric shapes and geospatial data attributes used with mapping applications. MapInfo is a mapping application produced by Pitney Bowes Software that provides a way to compare data with geographical topology.
TAB files that are created with AutoDesk are a 3D graphics file type that contains bitmap and vector images created using Computer Aided Design (CAD). This type of TAB file is known as an Autodesk TR-55 tabular hydrograph file that is used with AutoCAD Civil. AutoCAD Civil is high-end design software used in the engineering industry.
If the TAB file is related to Microsoft SQL, the file is a source code and script file type that contains table scripts used with the Microsoft SQL Server. The files are typically in a plain text format and used to run commands for SQL Server. Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database program that is used to design and manage databases that use the Structured Query Language.
How to Open TAB Files
Since TAB files are associated with multiple programs and applications, double click on the file to see if it will automatically open in a default program you have installed on your PC. TAB files can consist of different file types, so you may already have a program which will open the file.
If the TAB files are created by ArcView or ArcGIS, you can open them using ESRI ArcGIS Desktop for Windows. ArcGIS can be downloaded as a free trial version on the ESRI website and requires Microsoft .NET framework on a Windows PC. To use ArcGIS when you have Windows installed on a Mac PC, you must add BootCamp, Parallels, or VMWare in order to open TAB files using ArcGIS. You can also use GDAL, which is an open source geospatial application created by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGF) and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.
TAB files that are associated with MapInfo can be opened using the MapInfo program, which is available for download on the Pitney Bowes Software website. MapInfo is compatible with the Windows operating system.
If the TAB files are created with AutoCAD Civil, you can open them using this program, which is available for download on the Autodesk website in the USA section on Civil Engineering Design Software. AutoCAD Civil is available in a Premium and Ultimate version and is compatible with Windows and Mac OS X.
Microsoft SQL TAB files can be opened using Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft Visual Studio, which is a development environment for building relational databases. Both applications are available on the Microsoft website and are compatible with the Windows operating system. Since this type of TAB file is a source code and script file type in plain text, you can also open and view the contents of the file using any text editing program such as Notepad or WordPad for Windows or Apple TextEdit and TextMate for Mac.