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Top 7 Microsoft Excel Alternatives for Every Professional

Rahul is an app enthusiast who loves scouring the web for alternatives to popular apps and websites. Monopoly mustn't prevail!

Alternatives to Microsoft Excel

Alternatives to Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel—Still the Best in the Business?

Microsoft Excel is the native spreadsheet and accounting tool in the world-renowned Microsoft Office suite. It is a very basic software tool used by all teams in the business world, but it's extremely brilliant in its ability to handle core business reporting requirements.

Microsoft Excel helps businesses of all sizes derive actionable insights from their inherent data, making business reporting simple, effective, and time-saving.

In fact, most small and medium are satisfied enough to rely on Excel alone for their business reporting regime. The program has loads of essential features, and its free availability with the Microsoft suite aligns with the needs of most cost-saving enterprises.

Unfortunately, Excel's extensive features and impressive functionality are not always enough. For very technical, data-intensive businesses or those with higher regulatory or reporting standards, more detailed programs are often needed.

8 Microsoft Excel Alternatives

Similarly, Microsoft Excel may not suit other businesses or individuals for a variety of other reasons. In such cases, there are a few free alternatives to Microsoft Excel to consider for your personal and business needs.

These Microsoft Excel alternatives include the following.

  1. Google Sheets
  2. Microsoft Excel 365
  3. Gnumeric
  4. LibreOffice Calc
  5. Zoho Sheet
  6. Smartsheet
  7. Airtable
  8. Apple Numbers

1. Google Sheets

Google Sheets is an excellent spreadsheet management software for individuals and organizations. Its greatest differentiation from Microsoft Excel is the ability to collaborate easily, with multiple people able to work on the same spreadsheet at once without any lagging or confusion.

Further, Google Sheets users can also access the spreadsheet from multiple devices at the same time without disruption. This promotes colocation, remote document access, and the ability to maintain secure business documents.

Given the easy availability and steady improvement in its set of features, Google Sheets is an extremely viable alternative spreadsheet program to Microsoft Excel. It has the capability to effectively serve both individuals and teams, has an expansive collection of quality features, and boasts greater document security thanks to its access to the Google Drive cloud.

However, Google Sheet’s real-time editing and sharing capabilities make it even more practical for organizations that frequently collaborate on spreadsheets across departments.

Google Sheets is platform-independent, unlike Microsoft Excel. The program is compatible with and can run on any W3C-compliant web-enabled device, including game consoles, smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs, or you can use it through the native web client. Users have access to the automatic saving of their progress, unlimited document templates, advanced formatting, and beautiful charts among others.

Google Sheets Pros

  • Simple, elegant interface
  • Advanced collaboration and revision-history features
  • Free to use for Google account holders
  • 15 GB of free storage
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Google Sheets Cons

  • Slower than Excel when dealing with lots of data
  • Limited range of data visualization options
  • Google sheets formulas are not as complex

2. Microsoft Excel 365

Microsoft Excel 365 is the online, cloud-based spreadsheet alter-ego product of Microsoft Excel and the corresponding product of Microsoft Office suite’s online, cloud-based iteration, Microsoft 365.

Though developed by the same company, Excel 365 is as similar to yet different from Microsoft Excel as the parent Microsoft suites are from one another. In fact, there are enough differences between Microsoft Excel and Excel 365 to give a new user a real selection dilemma, but we are here to help.

While Microsoft Excel is free forever once you buy a Microsoft Office license, users on Excel 365 have to put up with the subscription-based model of all Microsoft 365 products. Excel 365 is the better product, however, with its collaboration capabilities built atop a vast selection of premium-grade tools.

With one subscription, Excel 365 users can enjoy exquisite access to other Microsoft 365 programs, which allow for cross-usage. Therefore, the single subscription also guarantees access to Sway, the automated Microsoft 365 product for preparing interactive reports and presentations based on your Excel 365 data.

Microsoft Excel 365 Pros

  • Most powerful spreadsheet tools of any competitor
  • Available on almost all platforms
  • Smooth collaboration features
  • Elegant, user-friendly interface with extensive help features
  • All-in-one app for spreadsheet creation and management

Microsoft Excel 365 Cons

  • Problems accessing documents through web browsers
  • Automated features may give unpredictable results
  • Some advanced features can be hard to access

3. Gnumeric

Gnumeric is a very nice alternative to Microsoft Excel and other popular spreadsheet applications. It is free for all users, supports spreadsheets, office suites, and project management, and the application comes loaded with a variety of features in a manner similar to Microsoft Excel.

As part of the Gnome desktop environment, Gnumeric lacks the fancy graphical interface and presentations of Microsoft Excel. That should not take anything away from an awesome program, however, with Gnumeric compensating for the same with file format flexibility, easy operations, and hundreds of functions to boot.

It is compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows, Ubuntu, and Linux among others. With Gnumeric, users are able to import and edit any kind of spreadsheet file format. Similarly, Gnumeric documents can also be exported in the form of whichever spreadsheet file format excites the user.

While an excellent spreadsheet software in general, the strange positioning of its windows will likely leave you scratching your head. Other than that, Gnumeric is free and capable of handling the most complex spreadsheet functions you may have.

It also has a simple installation process, but some users will possibly take issue with the fact it leaves a folder behind upon removal.

Gnumeric Pros

  • Lightweight application with quick boot times
  • Has many features and functions
  • Compatible with different spreadsheet files
  • Very accurate computations

Gnumeric Cons

  • Basic graphical user interface

4. LibreOffice

Part of the LibreOffice suite of document management products, the LibreOffice Calc product is another excellent alternative to Microsoft Excel. It is also an open-source spreadsheet manager and has a real appeal for personal, business, academic, and other research-based use where accurate data processing and reporting is of utmost significance.

Unlike Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice Calc allows you to view multiple sheets at the same time within one instance of the program. It is more limited in the number of data columns one sheet can process; however, with its maximum of 1,024 columns, about 15 times less than is possible in Microsoft Excel.

What’s more? Users of the LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet software now have a community developing free extensions that give the product added functionality. As such, Libre Calc is increasingly becoming as capable as Microsoft Excel, maybe even more so, with its lower pricing a continued attraction.

Alongside the rest of the LibreOffice products suite, Libre Calc has loads of built-in compatibility with various other third-party document management systems for easy collaboration. These include SharePoint, IBM FileNet, and Domino among others, while support for and compatibility with legacy file formats means Libre Calc files can be converted to and from other file formats with ease.

However, there are some persisting differences between Excel and Calc. While most of these are minor, a few substantial differences mean Microsoft Excel remains the better spreadsheet management software.

LibreOffice Calc Pros

  • Full suite of office software
  • Compatible with all Microsoft Excel file formats
  • No restricted features for paid users

LibreOffice Calc Cons

  • Download and install extra templates manually

5. Zoho Sheet

Zoho Sheet is an outstanding substitute for Microsoft Excel in performing data entry, computational work, and any other spreadsheet-related activities previously the reserve of Excel.

Like the more popular Microsoft Excel, Zoho Sheet is a free spreadsheet software program that comes with online cloud storage and remote access. It also has exceptional document management and security features, while the ability to collaborate anytime is a welcome upgrade from Microsoft Excel.

As a spreadsheet management software, Zoho Sheet facilitates hassle-free operation and collaboration between different members of a team. The program introduces process efficiencies when handling large volumes of data, formulas, functions, and charts among others.

To enable all these purposes, Zoho Sheet is extremely feature-rich. These features are tailored for different users within an organization, with accountants, sales staff, data analysts, and administrators among others benefiting from the expansive features in Zoho Sheet.

Some of these features include support for 13 different languages, has more than 350 data analysis functions, as well as Zia, an AI-powered data analyst that scans through the latest data to help automate key operations.

Zoho Sheet Pros

  • Excellent data storage and preservation
  • Lots of features, functions, and formulas
  • Huge collection of specialty document templates
  • Easy to switch to from other spreadsheet programs
  • Collaboration, interactivity, and security features

Zoho Sheet Cons

  • Premium plans are very pricey
  • The web interface can lag
  • Lacks some standard spreadsheet functions and templates
  • The offline mode is too stripped-down of features

6. Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a complete project management tool for collaborating, integrating workflows, and tracking project progress. It uses a variety of simple spreadsheets and exquisitely pre-built templates to help manage your projects easily and efficiently.

Smartsheet’s work execution platform and collaboration tool are easy for users already familiar with spreadsheet-like interfaces and work tools but can be torturous for those just getting started.

The program helps team members to plan, track, and manage their projects in real-time using a range of built-in Smartsheet features as well as more than 70 third-party integrations.

The main Smartsheet features include varied project management tools such as document and resource management, project reporting, task management, file sharing, and timeline tracking among others.

Smartsheet is not free. And while there is a free trial for 30 days, users must put up with prices higher than most similar products, with the cheapest plan starting at $14 per user, charged every month.

For this hefty price, however, Smartsheet users enjoy one of the most comprehensive spreadsheet programs on the market. The software is especially suited for project management, IT and Operations, marketing, and sales team management, among other process-based tasks.

Smartsheet Pros

  • Interactive spreadsheets with cross-department data support
  • Automated workflows using pre-built templates
  • 70+ app integrations
  • Resource tracking reports assist in scheduling
  • Proofing, approval, and task dependency tools
  • Conditional formatting to highlight deliverable dates

Smartsheet Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Changes don’t sync automatically
  • Pricier than most spreadsheet tools

7. Airtable

Airtable is a different alternative to Microsoft Excel than any other software on this list. For once, Airtable is not exactly a spreadsheet program but rather a hybrid between a spreadsheet and a database.

As such, it comes with many features and functionalities that you simply don't get with your traditional spreadsheets, making it a better spreadsheet manager than Microsoft Excel for most people already using spreadsheets.

For the experienced user, Airtable boasts the power and functionality of a database but is as easy to use as a spreadsheet. It is an easy program for new users to learn; the database feature is much easier than contemporary database software, while its step-by-step onboarding process suits even a beginner database user.

New users can learn the ropes with a free account, but a monthly subscription at $12 per user allows access to more and better features. These include more storage space, better collaboration, and a refined user permissions system. Airtable is also very user-friendly. Thus, the premium features do require any more learning or requirements but give users increased functionality to meet their project requirements.

Airtable Pros

  • Flat learning curve hence easy to use
  • Great free plan
  • Visually appealing user interface
  • Flexible task-tracking systems
  • Lots of project templates to choose from

Airtable Cons

  • Clunky task date functions
  • Potentially confusing without instructions
  • Limited user permissions
  • The feature set is a bit sparse

8. Apple Numbers

Apple Numbers is a useful solution for creating spreadsheets and organizing data for iOS and Mac devices. It gives users the same flexibility and functionality away from their desktops without compromising the quality of work.

With its impressive variety of tables, charts, and other reporting images, Apple Numbers makes it possible for users to create beautiful spreadsheets, data charts, and visually present data in a simplified fashion.

The Numbers program also comes included in most Apple devices, removing the need to buy and install manually. However, iPad users can still add diagrams and colorful illustrations in their documents using the Apple Pencil, while real-time collaboration enhances teamwork to boost productivity.

Significantly, Apple Numbers has been completely free to use since 2017. In fact, you can now use your Numbers program across devices with ease, while users enjoy several free document templates to ease the creation process.

Today, Apple Numbers has just as many features as Microsoft Excel, except that Numbers has access to cloud storage and much more advanced document security features. It supports hundreds of functions, enjoys intuitive controls to perform complex calculations, and users can easily explore patterns and trends in their data using the Pivot Tables data analysis tool.

Apple Numbers Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Free on Apple devices
  • Not just about tables

Apple Numbers Cons

  • Fewer functions than Microsoft Excel
  • Limited reach
  • Not very popular outside of Apple

Did I miss out on any other Excel alternatives? Let me know in the comments section.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Rahul Pandey

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