Spark Read CSV file into DataFrame

Spark SQL provides"path") to read a CSV file into Spark DataFrame and dataframe.write.csv("path") to save or write to CSV file, In this tutorial you will learn how to read a single file, multiple files, all files from a directory into DataFrame and applying some transformations finally writing DataFrame back to CSV file using Scala & Python (PySpark) example.

Note: Spark out of the box supports to read files in CSV, JSON, and many more file formats into Spark DataFrame. 

Table of contents:

Example explained in this tutorial uses the CSV file from following GitHub location.

Spark Read CSV file into DataFrame

Using"path") or"csv").load("path") you can read a CSV file into a Spark DataFrame, Thes method takes a file path to read as an argument. By default read method considers header as a data record hence it reads column names on file as data, To overcome this we need to explicitly mention “true” for header option. It also reads all columns as a string (StringType) by default. 

I will explain in later sections on how to inferschema the schema of the CSV which reads the column names from header and column type from data.

val df ="src/main/resources/zipcodes.csv")

When you use format(“csv”) method, you can also specify the Data sources by their fully qualified name (i.e., org.apache.spark.sql.csv), but for built-in sources, you can also use their short names (csv,jsonparquetjdbctext e.t.c). 

Example in Python (PySpark)

Here is a similar example in python (PySpark) using format and load methods'csv').options(header='true', inferSchema='true')

This example reads the data into DataFrame columns “_c0” for the first column and “_c1” for second and so on. and by default type of all these columns would be String.

Read multiple CSV files

Using the method you can also read multiple csv files, just pass all file names by separating comma as a path, for example : 

val df ="path1,path2,path3")

Read all CSV files in a directory

 We can read all CSV files from a directory into DataFrame just by passing directory as a path to the csv() method.

val df ="Folder path")

Options while reading CSV file

Spark CSV dataset provides multiple options to work with CSV files, all these options 


delimiter option is used to specify the column delimiter of the CSV file. By default, it is comma (,) character, but can be set to any character us this option.

val df2 ="delimiter"->","))


The default value set to this option is false, when set to true it automatically infer column types based on the data. It requires to read the data one more time to infer the schema.

val df2 ="inferSchema"->"true","delimiter"->","))

This option is used to read the first line of the CSV file as column names. By default the value of this option is false , and all column types are assumed to be a string.

val df2 ="inferSchema"->"true","delimiter"->",","header"->"true"))


When you have a column with a delimiter that used to split the columns, use quotes option to specify the quote character, by default it is ” and delimiters inside quotes are ignored. but using this option you can set any character.


Using nullValues option you can specify the string in a CSV to consider as null. For example, if you want to consider a date column with a value “1900-01-01” set null on DataFrame.


dateFormat option to used to set the format of the input DateType and TimestampType columns. Supports all java.text.SimpleDateFormat formats.

Note: Besides the above options, Spark CSV dataset also supports many other options, please refer to this article for details.

Reading CSV files with a user-specified custom schema

If you know the schema of the file ahead and do not want to use the inferSchema option for column names and types, use user-defined custom column names and type using schema option.

    val schema = new StructType()
    val df_with_schema ="csv")
      .option("header", "true")

Applying DataFrame transformations

Once you have created DataFrame from the CSV file, you can apply all transformation and actions DataFrame support. Please refer to the link for more details. 

Write Spark DataFrame to CSV file

Use the Spark DataFrameWriter object “write” method on DataFrame to write a CSV file. 



While writing a CSV file you can use several options. for example, whether you want to output the column names as header using option header and what should be your delimiter on CSV file using option delimiter and many more. 


Other options available quote,escape,nullValue,dateFormat,quoteMode

Saving modes

Spark DataFrameWriter also has a method mode() to specify SaveMode; the argument to this method either takes below string or a constant from SaveMode class.

overwrite – mode is used to overwrite the existing file, alternatively, you can use SaveMode.Overwrite.

append – To add the data to the existing file, alternatively, you can use SaveMode.Append.

ignore – Ignores write operation when the file already exists, alternatively you can use SaveMode.Ignore.

errorifexists or error – This is a default option when the file already exists, it returns an error, alternatively, you can use SaveMode.ErrorIfExists.



In this tutorial, you have learned how to read a CSV file, multiple csv files and all files in a folder into Spark DataFrame, using multiple options to change the default behavior and writing CSV files back to DataFrame using different save options.


Happy Learning !!

NNK is a BigData and Spark examples community page, all examples are simple and easy to understand and well tested in our development environment using Scala and Maven.

This Post Has 6 Comments

    1. Hi Dhinesh, By default Spark-CSV can’t handle it, however, you can do it by custom code as mentioned below.

      1) Read the CSV file using spark-csv as if there is no header
      2) use filter on DataFrame to filter out header row
      3) used the header row to define the columns of the DataFrame
      4) finally assign the columns to DataFrame

      Hope it gives you some idea.

  1. Hi Team,

    Actually headers in my csv file starts from 3rd row? How can I configure in such cases?
    Your help is highly appreciated.

  2. Hello NNK,

    Huge fan of the website. I was trying to read multiple csv files located in different folders as:[“path_1″,”path_2″,”path_3”], header = True)

    and was successfully able to do that. However, when running the program from spark-submit says that spark module not found.

    Can you help.

    1. Thanks Divyesh for your comments. Could you please share your complete stack trace error? If you have already resolved the issue, please comment here, others would get benefit from your solution.

      Thanks again. Happy Learning !!

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