With its organizational power and number-crunching abilities, Microsoft Excel has long been an office staple. However, its high price tag and steep learning curve means many businesses are looking for Excel alternatives.
Whether your priority is security and privacy, cost, or ease of use, there are a number of choices that may be better suited to your needs. Here are the top Excel alternatives in 2021.
When you first open Notion, you’ll be greeted by a blank page. This isn’t a glitch — Notion’s lack of initial structure is a reflection of its customizability. Users can build out their Notion workspace to perfectly match their needs.
A self-proclaimed “all-purpose productivity app,” Notion allows you to set up different “blocks” depending on the way you work. You can add a task manager, finance tracker, CRM database, and yes, an Excel alternative called Tables.
With Tables, you can organize data like email addresses, numbers, images, files, and formulas. You can also sort this data using tags, filters and add visuals. And you can share access, meaning you’re able to collaborate on Tables with colleagues or clients.
In addition to Tables, you can add components such as employee directories, company or team wiki pages, project management workflows and roadmaps, notes and document systems, and a task manager. Plus, the tool offers integrations with more than 500 other apps and tools. Unito is also building a Notion integration as we speak!
Check out our beginner’s guide to Notion for more information on the tool’s features.
If you’re someone who needs structure in order to succeed, Notion might not be for you. While the UI and UX enables users to create a workspace how they see fit, some might find the blank slate intimidating and prefer an established format. Don’t worry — you’ll find that structure in different Excel alternatives.
The basic personal version of Notion is free, but they have a few different payment options for their extended versions. The “Personal Pro” version is $4 a month, and includes unlimited file uploads, unlimited guests, and version history. The next tier is their “Team” option, which is $8 per month, per member. This includes everything in their “Personal Pro” version plus unlimited team members, collaborative workspaces, advanced permissions, and admin tools. Finally, their “Enterprise” membership includes everything in their “Team” membership, plus SAML SSO, user provisioning (SCIM), advanced security, a dedicated manager, and a custom contract. You can try out their Enterprise version for free, but will need to contact their Sales Team for exact pricing. Read more about Notion’s pricing here.
Perhaps the most well-known Excel alternative, Google Sheets works within the Google Suite alongside other tools such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, and Google Slides.
Google Sheets was the first Excel alternative to focus on dynamic collaboration capabilities. Multiple team members can be working on the same Sheet and see any changes or updates in real-time. Since Google Sheets is cloud-based, you can work within Sheets anywhere, anytime, and without fear of losing your data. As Google explains, “Sheets was designed with the needs of agile organizations in mind.” And if you’re not ready to fully transition, Sheets is compatible with Microsoft Excel (including keyboard shortcuts), making it easy to work across platforms as needed.
When it comes to functionality, Google Sheets supports more than 400 standard spreadsheet functions. If you need a specific function that isn’t included, you can also create your own custom function using Apps Script.
If you’re concerned about security on a cloud-based platform, Google Sheets is protected by Google’s high-security infrastructure. You can manage different permissions (individual, group, or domain), and can disable certain options such as the ability to download, copy, or print content shared in your Sheets.
Unito is also working on a Google Sheets integration which will allow you to sync it with the most important tools in your stack.
While Google Sheets is a great solution for most individuals within an organization, if you need your spreadsheet tool to manage more complex and larger volumes of data and formulas, it might be lacking some necessary features.
Like other tools in the Google Suite, Google Sheets is free to use for anyone with a Google account.
Upon opening Airtable, you’ll be shown the default “grid view” which mimics the look and feel of a classic spreadsheet tool such as Excel. However, if you prefer to view your data in a different way you can also select “form view,” “Kanban view,” “gallery view,” “Gantt view,” or “calendar view.”
Within grid view (the closest comparison to Excel), you can structure your data and information in the familiar columns, rows, and cells. Plus, with database functionality, you can create data links between your files and records to enable additional capabilities including data entry, calculations, and formulas.
Like Google Sheets, Airtable has cloud-based syncing so you’ll see real-time updates and maximum collaboration possibilities. Besides grids, you can use Airtable as your CRM tool, task management software, project management and planning tool, and as your database.
When it comes to integration and syncing with your existing tools, Airtable lets you connect and automate your workflow with hundreds of other tools. Unito’s Airtable integration connects it to Asana, Jira, Trello, and other essential work tools. Plus users can choose from over 50 prebuilt, click-to-add apps from Airtable’s marketplace.
Check out our beginner’s guide to Airtable for more information on key features.
While providing an attractive UI, mastering Airtable might require more effort than other Excel alternatives. Figuring out how to link tables, create formulas, and troubleshoot any issues with integrations can be difficult at first, and the UX isn’t entirely intuitive. However, their support resources are comprehensive and there are countless YouTube tutorials available if needed.
There are both free and paid Airtable subscriptions. The free version gives users 1,200 records (ie. items you can keep track of) per base (Airtable’s project equivalent), 2 GB of space per item, and a revision history of two weeks.
The cheapest paid option (Airtable Plus) can be tried for free, and then is $10 per person, per month after that. You get everything included in the free option, plus 5,000 records per base, 5GB of attachments per base, six-month revision history, a synced table per base, and automatic table syncing.
For $20 per person per month, you can get Airtable’s Pro version. You get everything included in the Plus version, in addition to unlimited apps, 50,000 records per base, 20GB of attachments per base, one-year revision history, personal and locked views, and field and table editing permissions.
Finally, Airtable’s Enterprise offering is meant for companies with “advanced security, control, and support needs.” While you need to contact their sales team for pricing, this version includes unlimited workspaces per organization, 100,000 records per base, 1000 GB of attachments, three-year revision history, SAML-based single sign-on, Salesforce external source syncing, and more.
For more information on Airtable’s pricing, see here.
Zoho Sheet is an online Excel alternative that is trusted by more than 60 million users around the world.
Zoho Sheet has an extensive list of features that make organizing and analyzing your data fairly easy.
Instead of simple, one-dimensional spreadsheets, Zoho Sheet lets you create interactive tables with the addition of checklists, data entry validations, and extensive automation options. And with auto-save and version history features, you can feel safe knowing you won’t lose your data.
Declaring itself the “spreadsheet software for collaborative teams,” Zoho Sheet also lets your team add data, discuss, react, and resolve comments in real-time, right in the app. All Zoho Sheet files are compatible with Excel, plus you can even move your spreadsheets between different cloud drives such as Google Drive and Dropbox — without impacting your formatting.
Like other web-based Excel alternatives, experienced Excel users might not find that Zoho Sheet has every advanced function they need.
Zoho Sheet is included within Zoho’s Docs suite of tools, and free for users (or teams of up to five people) that need 5GB or less in terms of storage. If you require more than 5GB of storage, their 100GB plan is $5 a month (per user) and includes other features like unlimited file versions, advanced analytics, and audit trails (which lets you see each individual team member’s activity).
Their most expensive plan is $8 a month per user, and gives you 1TB of storage, robust admin controls, single sign-on, and more.
LibreOffice is an open-source alternative to the Microsoft Office Suite, with Calc being their Excel equivalent. When you first open Calc, you’ll notice that it’s very similar in look and feel to Microsoft Excel.
Calc’s advanced DataPilot technology feature lets you import, organize, and manage data from your corporate databases. It saves spreadsheets in the native Open Document Format (.ods) but can open, save, and export files in Excel format for easy sharing and collaboration.
One of the handiest features of Calc, however, is their drag and drop capability. Instead of having to click on a cell and wait for it to be highlighted before you can drag (like in Excel), you can simply drag and drop data between cells in one swift movement. This saves valuable time and makes the user experience feel very intuitive.
If you often present your data, LibreOffice’s Calc program provides dynamic charts that are both visually appealing, and update automatically when your data updates. No need to go back and forth to edit your information in multiple places; Calc does it for you.
While some Excel users love that it’s a downloadable computer program, those who prefer a cloud-based, web-based tool probably won’t find LibreOffice’s Calc to be their perfect solution.
LibreOffice’s Calc tool is a completely free Excel alternative.
With so many Excel alternatives on the market, spreadsheets are now more intuitive and accessible than ever. From user experience, to functions, to integrations, the best Excel alternative is always the one that works for your business.
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