An Introduction to VisiData

VisiData is a free, open-source tool that lets you quickly open, explore, summarize, and analyze datasets in your computer’s terminal. VisiData works with CSV files, Excel spreadsheets, SQL databases, and many other data sources. The interface looks like this:

  File  Edit  View  Column  Row  Data  Plot  System  Help     | VisiData 3.0.2 | Alt+H for help men
 OPERATOR           ↓count♯ percent% histogram                             ~                   
 UNKNOWN            ║ 23076 │   31.42 │ ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ ║
 SOUTHWEST AIRLINES   7752    10.55  ■■■■■■■■■■■■                            BUSINESS             5868     7.99  ■■■■■■■■■                               AMERICAN AIRLINES    4337     5.90  ■■■■■■■                                 DELTA AIR LINES      2817     3.84  ■■■■                                    FEDEX EXPRESS        2709     3.69  ■■■■                                    UNITED AIRLINES      2194     2.99  ■■■                                     US AIRWAYS           1885     2.57  ■■■                                     UPS AIRLINES         1773     2.41  ■■                                      SKYWEST AIRLINES     1769     2.41  ■■                                      JETBLUE AIRWAYS      1740     2.37  ■■                                      EXPRESSJET AIRLINES  1347     1.83  ■■                                      AMERICAN EAGLE AIR…  1041     1.42                                        ENVOY AIR             883     1.20                                      ALASKA AIRLINES       835     1.14                                        REPUBLIC AIRLINES     804     1.09                                        MESA AIRLINES         693     0.94                                        AIR WISCONSIN AIRL…   623     0.85                                        PSA AIRLINES          577     0.79                                          PRIVATELY OWNED       516     0.70                                          PHI INC               491     0.67                                         2› faa-wildlife-strikes_OPERATOR_freq|                                  Shift+F           282 bins 

Very quickly, VisiData has become the tool I reach for first when I encounter a new dataset. I think you might enjoy it, too.

About This Tutorial


This tutorial is not officially affiliated with VisiData, and is not intended as a comprehensive reference. You can learn more about VisiData from these official sources:

Tutorial Structure

This tutorial is divided into five sections:

Section Description Status
The Big Picture If you read nothing else … Draft complete
Basic Usage All you need to know to get started Draft complete
Intermediate Usage Some of the handiest power-features Draft complete
Advanced Usage How to bend VisiData to your whims Four chapters drafted
Practical Examples Step-by-step walkthroughs Two examples drafted

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Tutorial Status

Tutorial last updated 2024-03-08
VisiData version 3.0.2

About the author

Jeremy Singer-Vine is a journalist, computer programmer, and data editor based in New York City. From 2014 until early 2022, he served as the founding data editor for BuzzFeed News. He also publishes Data Is Plural, a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

Feedback / questions / corrections?

File an issue on GitHub or email the author at


Many thanks to the following people for their feedback, suggestions, and fixes: Saul Pwanson, Anja Kefala, John Templon, Scott Pham, Andrea Borruso, Felix Rosencrantz, Ram Rachum, Ezequiel Garzon, Joseph Reagle, David Wales, @rschwiebert, Martin Häcker.