Numbers, strictly speaking, can handle files that large, but not with acceptable levels of responsiveness. Look for an old version of Excel for Mac or use one of the Office clones for the Mac, or switch to a true database application for files of this size. If you're in the market for a new Mac, the higher speeds of state of the art processor chips might make the difference for you and let you stay with Numbers if that's a priority.
Staying with Numbers is not really a major priority for me. It just happens to be the spreadsheet I started out with a few years ago when I purchased my Mac. It has definitely served its purpose up until now.
I just hope that the document I've been working on for several years can be easily and safely exported to a new program... if that's the route I have to take.
It won't cost you much in time or money to try out the options. I believe that MS Office for Mac has a free trial, and LibreOffice is tip/donation-ware, I think. Just Export to XLS and open your XLS document in the Office apps.
Sorry, I didn't reply to your question about upgrading your OS. OS upgrades aren't necessarily going to increase your app speed. Usually the later OS releases have so many new features and background operations, assuming the presence of newer, faster, hardware, that older hardware runs slower with the newer OS. (My opinion and my observations, but no data to back that up.)
JG: Thank you for your responses. I downloaded Libre Office. I then exported my document as an xls, pdf and a csv (sp)?...
Unfortunately, none of the three will open appropriately in Libre Office. It's telling me that because I have photos in my Numbers document, it won't transfer those. I'm working on getting Excel to try that route out.
Maybe the photos are making your Numbers documents overly large and slow to run?
Could you bear the suggestion to split large documents into several smaller ones? Not an ideal solution (Numbers can not reference between documents) but a work-around if there is no pressing need to connect everything.
Anyway, I hope Excel does the job for you.
Also make sure you have enough RAM by launching the application "Activity Monitor" in the folder "/Applications/Utilities".
Look at the amount of free memory:
In my case I have 450M of RAM left. If you have less than that you may experience a slow system. Quit applications to free memory OR add more RAM
Just a quick update:
I installed Microsoft Excel but I'm still having the same problems that I had with Libre Office. Actually, it seems like the problem is with Numbers. Numbers will not allow me to export photos. Copy and paste will not work either. It gives me a message saying "Export Warning: Image fills aren't supported. The rest of the text in the document exports perfectly.
As was suggested by Yellowbox, it looks like my only option is to split the document in half hopefully gaining some speed back in the process. I have one photo in every row of data, 2415 of them...
As far as free memory, I have anywhere from 80-100 MB. That seems low so maybe it's time for an upgrade.
Thanks again for everyones help.
OK. Wow!! That has been a major hangup for me. Numbers allows me to post a picture inside of a cell and re-size it and Excel only lets me post it OVER the cells, (on the canvas). Got it.
Well, then Excel won't work for me anyway. I need the pictures to be in the cells and fully sortable with my data.