How many files in a folder is too many?

Many years ago I vaguely recall that the Finder in Mac OS X would start having problems if a folder contained 2,000 - 3,000 items or more.

Apple doc says that the HFS Plus file system has a theoretical limit of a 2 billion files per folder all Mac OS X versions.

What is the practical limit?

Will having 10,000 photos in a folder be a problem?

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In 10.6 which I still use at work. the 2000-3000 problem still exists. I have not had the opportunity to use this sort of mass of files on later versions. But I suspect if the docs still say the same thing then the same limit may be a problem. I should add that I never ever have the problem of 2000-3000 on the Local drive. But only across a network drive. –  markhunte Dec 14 '13 at 10:25

You can easily try this yourself by running the following in Terminal

mkdir ~/t
cd ~/t
dd if=/dev/random of=test bs=1024 count=16
for i in {1..10000}; do cp test test.\$i; done


to create a folder containing 10'000 files with 16kB each (replace the 16 in the third line with another number for differently sized files).

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Nice empirical test. Thanks. –  Basil Bourque Dec 14 '13 at 22:36

Apple has a support document related to that:

Maximum number of files (or files and folders) in a folder (all Mac OS X versions)

Up to 2.1 billion (2)

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Yes, indeed, I did include that link and fact in my question (2nd paragraph). I'm asking about practical real-world limits. –  Basil Bourque Dec 14 '13 at 8:30