This post contains affiliate links. As a partner with Amazon and various brands, I am compensated when qualifying purchases are made through my referral links.
Despite the advent of many spreadsheet applications, Microsoft Excel is still the most widely used spreadsheet program.
According to one estimate, there were nearly 750 million excel users worldwide in 2017. But just because it is popular does not mean that it doesn’t have shortcomings.
Firstly, it costs $ 139.99; secondly, it cannot be shared and edited in real-time, making collaborations difficult.
However, there are various alternatives that you can use, and some of them are more powerful and more versatile than Excel.
We have compiled a list of popular Excel alternatives.
Google Sheets is one of the most popular spreadsheet programs out there, primarily because its design and functionality are similar to Excel. Despite these similarities, it has a few benefits over Excel.
For one, Google Sheets is free and easily accessible to anyone who has a Google account.
Secondly, and most importantly, your files and data are stored in the cloud. This ensures easy accessibility if you have multiple devices that need to view and update the same file.
Furthermore, you can share your Google Sheets file with team members or colleagues and allow them to edit it.
This means that multiple people can simultaneously work on the same file, with data backed up in real time.
Moreover, Google Sheets allows for third-party add-ons, particularly Google Tools such as Google Translate, etc.
It also allows users to import data directly from websites.
However, one thing to remember is that Google Sheets does not offer some of the more advanced tools and features available on Excel.
So, before migrating from Excel, make sure you have weighed the pros and cons and both.
Numbers (for Mac)
Numbers is essentially Apple’s answer to Excel. This program comes installed with every Mac and iOS-enabled device and can only be used by Mac users.
You do have the option of saving files in Excel form to share them with users who do not have Mac.
Numbers provides tools that are great for visualizing data in presentation or graphical form. You can find installed graphical templates that can help you turn datasets into presentations.
Numbers also has useful data analytical tools and reporting functions. You can also share your Numbers spreadsheets with other iOS or Mac devices who can then edit them simultaneously.
LibreOffice was introduced in 2010 as a free, open-source software, and since then, it has become a popular Excel alternative. The software can be used on different operating software, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
LibreOffice is essentially a suite composed of 6 different programs that are: Calc (spreadsheets), Writer (word processing), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics), Math (formula editor) and Base (databases).
The software offers powerful graphical functionality and is compatible with various other document formats. It is also beneficial for those who want to export data.
The Excel alternative offered by LibreOffice is Calc, which offers a list of functions not available on Excel.
It can compare two separate files (with Excel, you can open one file at a time). It offers more formatting choices and can import data from applications that are no longer used, such as Microsoft Works, Lotus 1-2-3, and Claris Resolve.
On the other hand, Calc’s macro recording capabilities are limited. Secondly, it cannot be linked to outside data sources, and you cannot save documents in XML format.
WPS Office Spreadsheets
WPS Office Spreadsheets is probably one of Excel’s best alternatives in terms of both functionality and features.
However, it is a freemium product meaning that you can either pay $29.99 a year or $119.99 for a lifetime license. You can get the fully-loaded free version, albeit with ads.
The ads can be annoying, but they last only 10 seconds and only pop up at certain times or when you are using specific tools.
Once you watch the full ad, the application is unlocked for 30 minutes. WPS Office can be installed and used on various platforms such as Windows, macOS, or Linux. The spreadsheets are very fast and are compatible with multiple programs, including Microsoft Office.
With WPS Office Spreadsheets, you can edit multiple files at once and use an advanced pivot table to analyze your data set.
Zoho Sheet is another cloud-based spreadsheet program that provides an alternative to Microsoft Excel.
Just like Google Sheets, Zoho allows for real-time collaboration and shareability. It also offers essential spreadsheet functions such as charts, pivot tables, etc. You can also use tools to simplify datasets and present them in graphical forms for presentations.
It is free for teams that have a maximum of 25 users.
Zoho sheets are also compatible with other document types and can be saved as Excel files as well.
If you don’t want people who have access to the same file to change your data, you can even lock cells in the spreadsheet. You can also code on Zoho by recording macros or using VBA to automate actions.
Microsoft Office Excel Online
We can’t exactly call Microsoft Office Excel Online an Excel alternative, but essentially this is Microsoft’s answer to Google Sheets.
It is a lighter version of Excel for people who want the Excel experience and the versatility offered by Google Sheets. Excel Online is user friendly and is based on Microsoft’s cloud services, OneDrive, so all data is saved.
Like Google Sheets, Excel online files can be shared and edited by others allowing for real-time collaboration among teams or offices.
However, for more advanced users who use Excel power tools, Excel Online will be quite disappointing. Many features such as external links, VBA scripting, advanced charts, and find and replace have either been stripped down or completely removed.
Hancom Cell (Previously known as Thinkfree)
Hancom Office is a paid Microsoft Office alternative that offers three alternative programs Words, Cell, and Show. You download Cell (MS Excel’s alternative) and available free trial for two months and then pay $79.99 for the enterprise version.
Cell is entirely compatible with Excel and has up to 1 GB of online storage that allows for files to be shared and edited by others.
Another advantage of Cell is that the files can be edited on your phone.
Some features include smart tags that enable automatic filling conditions, functions, and tools similar to Excel, pivot tables, and Macros and VBA script editor support.
Cell also supports many file formats.
What is the best free alternative to Microsoft Excel?
Google Sheets is the best free alternative to Excel. It is available to anyone who has a Google account. If you can tolerate ads then WPS Office Spreadsheets are a very powerful Excel alternative.
What will replace Excel in the future?
Excel has been able to keep up with the times and its competitors, and it is not going away any time soon. However, many people believe that it could be replaced with Business Intelligence tools, at least for corporations.
Can I learn Excel myself?
Yes it is completely possible to learn Excel. You can find various free online resources that will teach you basic, intermediate and even advanced excel.