A BASH shell script to import a large number of CSV files into MySQL

In this article I’ll share a bash shell script I use periodically to import a directory of CSV files into MySQL tables. This script is most helpful when you need to process a large number of CSV files, and the tables have not yet been created. Of course you could use a GUI tool to accomplish this, but what’s the fun in that?

The following script will get a list of CSV files, loop through them, add each table, add each column to the table (based on the first row), and then use the mysqlimport command to load all the CSV records. There are a few caveats though: 1. the first row of each CSV file must contain the column names; 2. it works best when your column names are simple text; and 3. your MySQL user must have permission to process files (see: File_priv).


# show commands being executed, per debug
set -x

# define database connectivity

# define directory containing CSV files

# go into directory
cd $_csv_directory

# get a list of CSV files in directory
_csv_files=`ls -1 *.csv`

# loop through csv files
for _csv_file in ${_csv_files[@]}

  # remove file extension
  _csv_file_extensionless=`echo $_csv_file | sed 's/\(.*\)\..*/\1/'`

  # define table name

  # get header columns from CSV file
  _header_columns=`head -1 $_csv_directory/$_csv_file | tr ',' '\n' | sed 's/^"//' | sed 's/"$//' | sed 's/ /_/g'`
  _header_columns_string=`head -1 $_csv_directory/$_csv_file | sed 's/ /_/g' | sed 's/"//g'`

  # ensure table exists
  mysql -u $_db_user -p$_db_password $_db << eof
    CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS \`$_table_name\` (
      id int(11) NOT NULL auto_increment,
      PRIMARY KEY  (id)

  # loop through header columns
  for _header in ${_header_columns[@]}

    # add column
    mysql -u $_db_user -p$_db_password $_db --execute="alter table \`$_table_name\` add column \`$_header\` text"


  # import csv into mysql
  mysqlimport --fields-enclosed-by='"' --fields-terminated-by=',' --lines-terminated-by="\n" --columns=$_header_columns_string -u $_db_user -p$_db_password $_db $_csv_directory/$_csv_file


After creating my shell script file, and making it executable, I executed it. Since I added the line “set -x” to the script, a lot of helpful info is shown to debug.


Lastly I executed some SQL on the command line to verify the results. nice.

$ mysql -u csv_imports -pchangeme csv_imports --execute="select * from albums"
| id | band        | album               |
|  1 | band        | album               |
|  2 | black keys  | attack & release    |
|  3 | the dodos   | no color            |
|  4 | the xx      | xx                  |
|  5 | surf city   | kudos               |
|  6 | toro y moi  | underneath the pine |
|  7 | cut copy    | zonoscope           |
|  8 | twin shadow | forget              |