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I have a list of items in a text file separated by 1 (one) tab character like this:

item one[tab]item two

Each item doesn't have the same length in characters. So a traditional column selection doesn't work. The block selection must stop at the "tab" character at each line.

How do a do it?

I'm using Windows 7. I would prefer to use a text editor than a spreadsheet program (as i already though of that).

User "Paul Lammertsma" offered a partial solution. I'm still hoping for a complete solution. I decided to add this comment and clarify my question a lit bit.

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There are several text editors that allow for block selection. I'm not entirely sure if this would resolve your problem (if the text is wider than a tab, you will select text in other columns).

Context is a very simple editor that lets you do this by holding Alt while dragging. As a workaround for the problem above, you can set the tab width to the maximum of 32 in the Environment Options.

Notepad++ is a more flexible (and still actively developed) editor, which works in a similar way.

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Increasing the "tab size" in Notepad++ preferences allow me to achieve what i wanted. Thank you. Still i would have prefer that column/block selection would stop at the tab character at each line. – Zadat Feb 4 '11 at 2:19
Of course you could always use an advanced editor such as Vim. This related question just popped up about an hour ago, using just that. – Paul Lammertsma Feb 4 '11 at 10:53

I think the quickest way would be to use a spreadsheet program. Import it into Excel as a tab-separated file - that will give you your two columns.

In Excel 2007 you'd do it by clicking Data -> Get External Data -> From text

Choose your file, and then in the Text Import Wizard, choose Delimited, and make sure you have Tab selected as your delimiter, then click Finish.

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Yes, i knew that. I explained it in my question. The previous answer offered a partial solution. Thank you for your answer. – Zadat Feb 4 '11 at 2:21

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