Understanding CSV and row limits

Now you can see the "big picture" of what CSV files are and why they're used. Before we dive into more nitty-gritty topics that you may have about using CSV, let's cover a common burning question many users have:

Does CSV have rows limit?

The quick answer is: no, with a little bit of yes.

The real answer is: it depends on what you use to open up the CSV file!

Remember, CSV is just a data format, it is not the file or program itself. So, you can open up a CSV in TextEditor, Excel, Numbers, GoogleSheets, and hundreds of other options. And you guessed it, each one of those options has it's own limitations and rules about the files it can open.

Let's review the most common scenarios where you may open a CSV file and encounter a row limit:


Probably the most commonly used program for opening a CSV. Here, you'll encounter a 1,048,576 row limit. You'll most likely receive a notification if your file exceeds this, so you'll be warned that you aren't viewing all data.


Similar to Excel, with Mac Numbers you'll see warning if you'r file exceeds 1,000,000 rows.

Google Sheets

This one can be misleading and catch you off-guard if you're dealing with large files. While they do not have a specific row limit, they do enforce a cell limit of 5 million cells. So, the cells across all columns and all rows combined cannot exceed this limit. You'll also receive a warning here once you've reached this limit.

OpenOffice and LibreOffice

These free alternative office suite programs also have the same limit as Excel, which sits at 1,048,576 rows.

Text Editors (programs like WordPad, TextEdit, etc.)

These, although not as commonly used to open spreadsheet data, are more foolproof for bigger files. They do not have specific row limits, so you can open large datasets without errors or limit warnings.

Now, it's important to remember that with any of these options, you'll still be limited by what your computer is capable of handling. With all programs, your file size may push the limit of your computer's memory (RAM), and you may experience issues opening large files anyway. But, as long as your computer's memory can handle it, and you choose the program that fits your file size requirements, you will have no problem opening any CSV file!