When you think of spreadsheets, the first programs that come to mind are likely Excel and Google Sheets. But what are the best spreadsheet alternatives?
As part of Microsoft Office, Excel is the most popular spreadsheet program in the world. In 2016, Microsoft said more than 1.2 billion people use Microsoft Office.
Google Sheets made a big splash when it debuted in 2006, as one of the first popular cloud-based spreadsheet programs to allow collaboration from multiple parties. In 2017, Google announced that Google Drive had 800 million active users.
But believe it or not, there are several other spreadsheet alternatives to Google Sheets and Excel. The one that’s best for you will depend on your spreadsheet goals.
Apple’s answer to Sheets is called Numbers. This spreadsheet service also allows for collaboration, and you don’t have to have an Apple product to participate. While you can join in on the spreadsheet fun with a Mac, iPad or iPhone, you can also contribute to a Numbers sheet with a PC if you are working from the iWork for iCloud portal.
Apple’s products are built for design capabilities, and that is evident within the Numbers program. You can insert images, pull up trendy graphics, and work in resolutions that would typically slow Google Sheets down.
However, if you’re working with complex formulas, you’ll want to stick with the tried and true programs you’re used to like Sheets and Excel; pretty tables are Numbers’ strength—not advanced computing power.
Where Numbers lacks computing power, Coda has it in droves. This new program allows you to create a doc and sheet all in one—without switching back and forth between two programs. Multiple people can work off the same set of data and do very different things with it—from plotting routes on maps to calculating the costs of different transport options.
Coda is incredibly powerful and allows you to do pretty much anything you could dream of with your data. The only problem is that you will have to learn Coda’s unique formula language in order to use it to its fullest capacity.
Zoho Sheet is very similar to Google Sheets, though it has several different features. You can add some of these missing features on to Google Sheets, but with Zoho they’re built in:
- Activity monitoring
- Audit trail
- Data encryption
- Document tagging
- Full text search
- Multiple format support
- Multiple user accounts (up to 25 on the free version)
- Summary reports
- Third-party integration
- Version management
The free version of Zoho comes with up to 25 users. If you’re collaborating on a bigger project, you can opt to pay $5/month per user—which does add up quickly. However, this enhanced version of Zoho Sheet also comes with higher levels of encryption and security than the free version of the program or Google Sheets.
Apache OpenOffice Calc
Apache OpenOffice’s spreadsheet program—known as Calc—was the first of its kind: a free alternative to Microsoft Excel. It’s highly compatible with all versions of Excel, but you won’t be able to do much extra with it. That includes real-time collaboration as this program does not natively come with cloud storage.
Gnumeric is a free and slender program. It doesn’t have all the fancy, easy-to-use graphics of Numbers—or even Excel, for that matter—but because of this, its calculations are done at a much faster speed than its competitors as the smaller program runs as a quicker pace. Your device is less likely to freeze up when you’re using Gnumeric compared to other programs like Google Sheets because it requires less memory.
While there is a portable version which you can transfer from computer to computer with a USB drive or other like device, those looking for cloud storage should look elsewhere.
WPS Office Spreadsheets
WPS Office is China’s powerful answer to Microsoft Office. Its parent company—Kingsoft—has recently broken into the US and European markets, and has created a spreadsheet interface nearly identical to that of Excel.
Why go with WPS Office then?
Because it’s free. They support this business model by attaching ads to certain features, such as turning a doc into a PDF.
Where WPS Office falls short, however, is its cloud-based storage, which makes it difficult to use for collaborative efforts. While Kingsoft has added a cloud storage option in the recent past, it’s only 1GB worth—hardly enough to manage all of your projects with multiple team members. If you have several sheets you want to work on solo, you may also encounter trouble accessing these sheets across devices with the low cloud storage levels.