I have a large CSV file with a total size of 214 MB.

When I try to open this CSV file with Numbers, Number apps hangs.

I have a mac m1 machine with 16 GB RAM.

Can any one please tell me how to open a CSV file of this size in mac?

  • 1
    What do you want to do with the contents once you open the file?
    – Alper
    Aug 24, 2022 at 5:41
  • Can you open Teminal, type wc -l, press the space bar, then drag&drop the CSV into Terminal and press Enter? And then copy/paste the result into your question? This will count the lines in the CSV.
    – nohillside
    Aug 24, 2022 at 5:51
  • I also have a Mac M1 with 16 GB RAM. LibreOffice takes ~10 s to open a 220 MB CVS file (1E6 rows × 10 columns × 21 characters). The file contains only numbers and these characters . , ` \n. If this file is saved in Excel format (xlsx), LibreOffice takes ~8s to open it. Curiously, in the native ods format, it takes 66s to open.
    – nico
    Feb 23 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


Limits in spreadsheet apps are usually defined by maximum number of rows and cells, rather than file size. And some spreadsheet programs (in particular Numbers) may slow down significantly before the limits are reached.

For Numbers the limits in 2015 were 65536 rows by 255 columns - I can't find a recent reference to this but it is larger. I found on my disk a CSV with 300,000 rows by 3 columns (188MB). Numbers does open it, but takes a long time (~4 minutes).

Recommend: Excel which has limits of 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns. See Excel limits.

You may need ~2 GB RAM for Excel for your 214 MB file (just an estimate). When I open my 188MB file, Numbers consumed 4.6 GB real memory!


LibreOffice has, I understand, similar limits to Excel. You could also try that though it is a little slower than Excel with my 188 MB test file. Memory usage was almost exactly the same as Excel.

Depending on what you want to do with the CSV, you may find it is sufficient to open it with a text editing app. For that I recommend BBEDit, though TextEdit is likely sufficient.

  • is there an app that is open source and not paid?
    – Exploring
    Aug 24, 2022 at 5:27
  • 1
    I have added LibreOffice.
    – Gilby
    Aug 24, 2022 at 5:30

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