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The Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Excel – View Geek

  Microsoft Excel Alternative Hero

Spreadsheets are ubiquitous: people use them every day to track inventory, budgeting, data tracking and a million other things. And while Microsoft Excel has been the spreadsheet of choice for years, there are other (free) alternatives you might like more.

Whatever your reason for using a spreadsheet, chances are you've ever used Microsoft Excel. And while the software is more than capable of tackling anything you throw at it (even Grandma's knitting patterns and your little brother Minecraft's building plans), Excel is expensive and even lacks a few features that make it more useful would make. Fortunately, there are plenty of free alternatives available, many of which are equally powerful and easy to use.

What to Look for in a Microsoft Excel Alternative

Free spreadsheet software should be as powerful as paid options and come packed with all the tools you need to spread your heart out. Here are the main features that good spreadsheet software should provide and why they are important:

  • an intuitive interface: spreadsheets are designed to handle complex tasks, but that doesn't mean the software itself should be clunky or difficult to use. The best Excel alternatives have a sleek modern look and smart tool organization and are filled with a ready-made artillery of built-in formulas, functions and templates. The software must also have cross-platform support so that you can access it from anywhere.
  • Live Collaboration Support: If your team needs to collaborate through a spreadsheet, it is imperative that the software support concurrent collaboration. Likewise, the program should also be able to keep track of who makes what change and when and allow you to lock individual cells (or the entire document) so that no unwanted changes can be made. It should also allow you to set the spreadsheet as read-only and enable other permissions for users.
  • Powerful Functions and Formulas: Whether you keep stock inventory, handle accounting for your department, or graph data for an upcoming presentation, your spreadsheet software must have a wide variety of formulas ready. Basic options for simple math are a given, but if you need something more advanced, such as statistical or logic functions, or the ability to create a custom function, the software should be able to handle that too.
  • Dynamic images: Not that it's not much fun looking at thousands of cells with text and numbers, but graphs and charts are a little easier on the eyes. Visuals show you data at a glance and are an indispensable item for presentations. Good Microsoft Excel alternatives support dynamic charts and graphs that are updated in real time as your data does and should allow for extensive customization so that you can make your images look and work exactly the way you need them.
  • Advanced Features: Most people will probably never bother with the advanced features of most spreadsheet software, such as custom macros, filters, pivot tables, conditional formatting, or the ability to calculate large data sets and to analyse. However, it's nice to know that those features are there when and when you need them.

Best cloud-based Excel alternative: Google Sheets

  Google Sheets website

Google Sheets (free) has become as well known as Microsoft Excel. Google users already have access to this app, and the ability to integrate with other Google products (such as Google Forms and Google Data Studio) makes it easier to stay on track while working on your projects. Spreadsheets also stores everything you create in the cloud, so you can access your spreadsheets from any desktop, iOS or Android device.

The software is easy to navigate and use with its sleek and minimal appearance. Simultaneous collaboration support is great for teams, and it even has a built-in group chat room where everyone on your team can talk about the document while working. You can comment on cells and set specific user rights for individual cells or the entire document. A robust Help section for Sheets is also ready to help if you have any questions.

Spreadsheets has plenty of built-in formulas, as well as plenty of pivot tables, conditional formatting options, and templates that can save you time and effort. It includes robust customizable graphs and charts for visualizing your data, which are dynamically updated like your data. Google Sheets also stores detailed documentation of changes and supports version control.

Best for Apple Users: Apple iWork Numbers

  Apple iWork Numbers website

Apple's version of Excel, iWork Numbers (free), is available to anyone with an iCloud- account (including PC users), but the mobile app is only available for iOS users (sorry, Android). Numbers, of course, supports the Apple pencil, so if you're working from your iPad, you can take notes and draw diagrams manually. The app also supports real-time collaboration, shows you real-time operations, and lets you save and export documents as Excel files if you need to work with anyone using Excel. If you want to keep an important document safe in Numbers, you can lock it with a password, Touch ID or Face ID.

In the true minimalist form of Apple, the standard of Numbers is a blank sheet instead of a grid (as Excel and its alternatives offer), and the features are sparse and minimally represented. If needed, you can easily add charts, tables, and other content or choose a template to get started. Numbers has over 700 customizable shapes that you can shape for data visualization, as well as plenty of options to customize the display of fonts, tables, and cell borders. The app's tools can handle complex functions and formulas, and the Smart Categories feature provides table layout and summaries for deeper insight into your data.

Best open-source Excel alternative: LibreOffice Calc

  LibreOffice Calc Spreadsheet
LibreOffice [19659003] Calc (free), part of LibreOffice, is a robust spreadsheet program for Windows, macOS and Linux users . While the software doesn't have the beauty and flash of the other alternatives, it is open source, meaning you have access to much more functionality and the freedom to customize just about anything. If you don't want to start with a blank document, choose a free template to work with.

LibreOffice Calc has native support for Excel files. You can also customize the look so that you only see the tools and features you want to work with, and the handy keyboard shortcuts allow you to quickly navigate the interface. The software's built-in wizard helps you create visualizations of your data and use other advanced features, making it easy to use for both new and experienced users.

Calc has a handy tool called DataPilot that allows you to import raw data from external databases and manipulate it in your own spreadsheet. You can also create dynamic charts and graphs that display updated data in real time. The software offers flexible cell formatting and robust customization options for text, cells and charts. In addition, multi-user collaboration in Calc is also possible, but this feature is not as robust as in almost any other alternative.

Closest to Microsoft Excel: WPS Office Spreadsheets

  WPS Office Spreadsheets website
WPS Office

If you are looking for an Excel alternative that still largely looks and functions like Excel, then WPS Office Spreadsheets (Free) is the one to choose. In addition to a similar layout to Excel, WPS is also compatible with XLS, XLSX and CSV files, so you can import files from (or export to) Microsoft Excel without any problem. WPS Office is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android and also on the internet (but only as the whole suite); if you just want access to Sheets, you're still stuck with the whole suite, including the word processor.

WPS has a beautiful modern interface that is easy to use. It supports track changes and comments, as well as multi-user collaboration with WPS and Microsoft Office users, and it has over 50 keyboard shortcuts for easier navigation. The software supports advanced pivot tables, contains over 100 formulas you can use with your data, and has a what-if analysis that you can use to find solutions to complex data problems. Paying to upgrade to the Premium plan ($ 29.99 / year) eliminates ads, gives you cloud storage, and gives you access to the program on up to nine devices (instead of three on the free plan).

Best for Serious Data Analysis: Zoho Office Sheet

  Zoho Office Sheet Spreadsheet

Zoho Office Sheet (Free) is great spreadsheet software for many reasons, the first of which is the AI-powered tool for data analysis, Zia, is who analyzes your data and provides insights to help you better understand it. Zia removes inconsistencies and duplicates and automates pivot tables and charts that you can then add to your spreadsheet. You can also ask the tool questions about your data, or analyze this data with certain filters, and it will help you find an answer.

Zoho also has no shortage of other features, such as real-time collaboration for up to 25 users or a chat panel where users can discuss a document. The audit trail tool allows you to see who made a particular change to the document, and Zoho backs up every document with standard version backups so you don't have to worry about data loss. You can lock the entire document or just certain cells with a password, set read and edit rights, and publish part or all of your spreadsheet on the Internet.

The app supports more than 350 functions, in addition to advanced functions such as pivot tables and conditional formatting. It can automate certain tasks, create validations for data entry, collect data with forms, and import data from external sources such as a web page, an RSS feed, or an external file. The app also allows you to create custom functions and record macros. Zoho is cloud-based and can be accessed from anywhere.

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