As a part of Microsoft’s Office productivity suite of software, Excel is wildly popular with both individuals and companies for spreadsheet work. Excel makes it very easy to organize, track and curate large amounts of data with options for customized formulas that are perfect for making simple graphs, charts, records, bookkeeping, statistical analysis and the like. While Excel is extremely popular for spreadsheet work, it has the same disadvantages as any of Microsoft’s major products in that it is closed source and usually somewhat costly whether purchased alone or as part of a Microsoft Office product. There are some fine alternatives available in web-based and desktop versions that serve as highly capable substitutes. Give these recommended Excel alternatives a try.
No, they’re not what you spread on your mattress. Google Sheets is a web-based app that does nearly everything with spreadsheets that Excel can. Furthermore, it leverages Google’s strength with the cloud and allows for multiple people to edit and access a spreadsheet in real time. You can also import spreadsheets from other apps like Excel and work on them.
Numbers is Apple’s very own spreadsheet app and is available on iOS and for Mac OS X. Like most Apple products, Numbers has a slightly different philosophy and you don’t necessarily have to manage multiple columns and rows of data to work with your data. Numbers also has the collaborative cloud features of Google Sheets so you can upload, edit and share your work with others in real time.
Microsoft is often charged with having expensive software that is less accessible but lately they’ve been offering a lot of quality free apps as well. Microsoft Office Online is completely free to use once you make an account and you also get access to Excel’s web-based version. This version is nearly identical to the desktop one and is great for those accustomed to working with Excel. You can also use Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage to save and manage your data.
4. Zoho Sheets
If you want to try something that’s not from Google or Microsoft, Zoho Sheets offers many of the same spreadsheet capabilities and is also completely free unless you require a large volume of data storage. Zoho Sheets lets you create and save spreadsheets to the cloud, has a desktop client for offline work, and a clean and usable interface.
OpenOffice is a much respected free and open source alternative to Microsoft Office. Calc is the equivalent of Excel in Apache OpenOffice and has many of the same features and functionality you’d find there. It is missing a few of the advanced features that Excel has, but for the most part it goes toe to toe with Microsoft Office and is completely free. Apache OpenOffice Calc is highly recommended if you’re a fan of open source software or just want a very able spreadsheet app.