← Back

The Apple Numbers Row Limit

2023-11-07 // Nick End, Founder

Open Free Row Zero Workbook

The Apple Numbers row limit is precisely 1 million rows. The Apple Numbers column limit is 1000 columns. If a csv file with greater than 1,000,000 rows is loaded, only the first million are imported. In the below post, we explain why the limit exists and what to do about it.


  1. What is Apple Numbers
  2. Why does Apple Numbers limit rows to 1,000,000
  3. The top 3 methods for resolving the Apple Numbers row limit
  4. Conclusion

What is Apple Numbers?

Apple Numbers is a spreadsheet application built by Apple and available for use on all apple computers. The program is a competitor to Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets but is far less popular. Proponents love the user interface, data table presentation, and graphing capabilities. Critics are generally loyal Excel users who have become familiar with the shortcuts, tools, and application behavior, making it hard to switch.

Why does Apple Number limit rows to 1,000,000?

Apple Numbers is a software application that runs locally on a personal computer. The application has a hard limit of 1,000,000 rows but, like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, the program starts slowing down long before a data set reaches 1,000,000 rows. When trying to edit the sheet, you may see screens, like the following:

calculating modal Apple Numbers updating model Apple Numbers

The reason for slow performance is in order for Apple Numbers to support the interactive visual user interface, it must store all the data in memory, of which there is only a limited amount on a personal computer. As more data is added to the spreadsheet, more memory is consumed and less is available for other actions like updating cells, transforming data in columns, or formatting the spreadsheet. Apple Numbers users report the application taking several seconds to update the value in one cell when their spreadsheet has close to 1,000,000 rows. Performing bigger operations like filling a column down 1,000,000 rows can take a long time to execute and may potentially crash the program. If you try to load a file that has more than 1,000,000 rows, the application will show the following modal and only load the first 1,000,000 rows of the dataset.

Apple Numbers row limit error screen

Apple numbers isn't the only spreadsheet program with a row limit. Microsoft Excel has a well known limit of 1,048,576 rows and Google Sheets has a limit of 10,000,000 cells. Both spreadsheets suffer performance issues because, like Apple Numbers, they run on local computers and can easily use up all the memory.

How to open a big CSV?

If you are trying to open a big CSV, check out the post titled Open a Big CSV File

Top 3 Methods for resolving the Apple Numbers Row Limit

1. Use a more powerful spreadsheet.

Row Zero - Row Zero is a blazingly fast spreadsheet that is designed to have the same functionality as Apple numbers, MS Excel, and Google Sheets but can handle multi-million row data sets. Row Zero runs in the cloud and is not hamstrung by the hardware on a user's computer, supports real-time collaboration, and can ingest data from a csv upload, S3 import, database query, API connection, or a connection to any other cloud data source.

Row Zero image

2. Use a different application that is better at handling large amounts of data.

  • Jupyter Notebook - Jupyter is a tool best suited for software engineers, data scientists, and analysts that know how to code. The application enables manipulation of large data sets with commands written in code cells and can handle millions of rows, though it runs locally and is dependent on the hardware on a personal computer.
  • SQLite - SQLite is an easy to install lightweight database that can be installed and run on a user's computer. The database can store millions of rows of data, which can be accessed by writing SQL queries to transform and analyze data. Once transformed to a smaller subset, the data can be opened in a spreadsheet.

3. Open in a notepad file and truncate

Open the large data set in a notepad file, like notepad++ and delete all the rows over 1,000,000 so it can be opened in Apple Numbers. Notepad++ screenshot


Apple Numbers is a good application for small data sets but the program enforces a 1,000,000 row limit. If a data set larger than 1,000,000 rows is loaded into Apple Numbers, only the first 1,000,000 will be shown. Lastly, the application will run slowly on large data sets that are less than 1,000,000 rows. There are a number of different options for working around Number's row limit. Most of them require learning some new skills, downloading programs, or file manipulation. If you are comfortable writing code or SQL a jupyter notebook or SQLite database might be best for you. In our opinion, the easiest option is to simply use a better spreadsheet. Row Zero, a blazingly fast spreadsheet designed to work with large data sets, that runs in the cloud, and doesn't require a download.

Another solution to a slow spreadsheet would be the use of a BI tool, like Microsoft's PowerBI or Tableau business intelligence tools. Both tools are feature rich and powerful visualization and BI tools. These tools are very different from the spreadsheets most people are familiar with and for that reason, were not reviewed in this post.