I enter a lot of data that will ultimately be saved as comma separated text files (.csv). I currently use Excel but often find that it auto-formats the data inappropriately and is basically overkill for what I need.

Is there a simple spreadsheet software that will:

  • allow text entry

  • allow simple cell navigation (i.e., with arrow keys)

  • allow copy and paste to/from multiple cells

  • open and save plain text files

  • run on Linux and Mac

  • be free (beer and speech)?

I have already tried the Excel clones (Gnumeric, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice) and they suffer the same problems as Excel: much too feature rich.

3 Answers 3


I would suggest downloading the wxPython, (it is quite likely to be already installed on both Mac and Linux), and the wxPython demo and taking a look at the SimpleGrid.py in there, adding file load and save for csv is trivial given that Python comes with a comprehensive csv library and you will find how to add copy/paste/pop-up menu, etc. elsewhere in the demo.

You should end up with your own, custom, csv editor that does exactly what you need in a total of about 300 lines of code most of which is already in that demo.

Screenshot from Demo

The same code will run on Mac, Linux and Windows wherever the prerequisites are met, i.e.: Python 2.7.x (installed default on Max & most Linux distributions) & wxPython, (ditto on many), and can also be run from a USB key on Windows almost any Windows machine by using Portable Python.

Download Sizes

  • Windows 32
  • Mac OS-X
    • Python 2.7.x is a default component but if missing can be downloaded from here.
    • Carbon & Coca wxPython, if not already installed, downloads here - 40.9 MB.
    • OS-X Docs & Demos here - 36.8 MB.
  • Linux

    • Python should already be installed or can be added using your package manager.
    • wxPython - Install with your package manager, see here, or install from source - 67.6 MB source.
    • wxPython Docs (21.4 MB) HTML here.
    • wxPython Demos (4 MB) download as source here.
  • Portable Python

    • The installer for USB key is here - this will generate a USB key with python, wxPython and a if you wish a huge pile more python stuff - 237 MB download installed size: based on selected packages, between 50MB and 850MB.
    • Install to a USB key, (or hard drive), and copy on your custom editor and you are ready to go just about anywhere.

Note that there are separately downloadable libraries, (10 of kB each but included in the Portable Python), callled xlrd and xlwt that allow reading from and writing to, respectively, Excel XLSX files so you could add that as an option.

You will gain a very powerful set of tools for manipulating your data for relatively tiny downloads and you will open up a whole new world in the process, e.g.: SciPy (Scientific Library), Numpy (Base N-dimensional array package rivals Matlab), Pandas (Manipulates Huge Complex data sets), MatPlotLib (2D & 3D Plotting) and it is all FREE. Be warned you may end up abandoning Excel.


In case this sounds too much like an advert I must say I do not work for or have any financial interest in any of the projects mentioned although I have tried to make minor contributions in a couple of areas - I just use them and think that they are great!

  • Rolling your own spreadsheet program, as you go, around the Scipy extended stack, is a neat idea. Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 1:43
  • @Oxinabox - there is also the Pyspread project (manns.github.io/pyspread) where each cell is a python or scipy object that can access the other cells.... Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 6:45

When I looked for "large csv editor" on Google I found ModernCSV.

I have not tried it yet, but the free version seems to cover all functional requirements, but it's unfortunately not free/libre.

I have no affiliation with this application.


Try any good text editor with extension support, e.g.

Visual Studio Code with the "Edit csv" Extension

Visual Studio Code with the "Edit csv" Extension

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