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OpenRefine, a Power Tool for Messy Data: Get Started

Get started with OpenRefine, a powerful application for cleaning and transforming tabular data.

Getting Started with Refine


Installing and starting a project in OpenRefine is easy!

For current information, visit the OpenRefine site and official Docs.

Setup / Install Refine

To use Refine you will need a web browser (Firefox or Chrome) and an OpenRefine kit for your operating system. In the past installing Java was required, but this is no longer necessary on Windows and Mac! Check the official installation docs for details.

Start by visiting the OpenRefine downloads page to find the package for your system.


  • Download the latest "Windows kit with embedded Java" package. This will be a .zip file.
  • Extract the package you downloaded to a permanent location on your computer.


  • Download the latest "Mac kit" package. This will be a .dmg file.
  • Drag the .dmg file from your Downloads to the Applications folder.


  • If you do not have Java, install the latest Java JRE/JDK from your distro's repositories.
  • Download the latest "Linux kit". This will be a .tar.gz file.
  • Extract the .tar.gaz to a permanent location on your computer (e.g. in your Home directory).



Start Refine

  1. Start the Java app: Opening Refine differs depending on your OS, but in all cases the app will start running in a terminal window which you can ignore and minimize (but do not close!).
    • Windows: double click openrefine.exe (You may get a warning that the publisher could not be verified, ignore it, and click Run. Once open, pin the Refine icon to your taskbar for easy access in the future).
    • Mac: click the Refine icon in the applications folder.
    • Linux: in the OpenRefine directory open terminal and type ./refine.
  2. Use the GUI: Once Refine is running in a terminal, your default web browser should automatically open with the interface. If it does not open automatically or you close the browser tab, find the GUI by typing or localhost:3333 in your address bar. The user interface is rendered by your web browser, but Refine is not a web application. No information is sent online and no internet connection is necessary.
  3. Shut down: close any browser tabs with the GUI, then stop the host terminal window with Ctrl+C (or Command-Q on Mac). This will ensure any open projects are saved.

Terminal window:

Browser window:

Please note: although Refine runs in a web browser, the application is offline. You do not need an internet connection and no data is sent over the network