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Top Excel Alternatives For 2021 (Features, Pros, Cons, Pricing)

Top Excel Alternatives For 2021 (Features, Pros, Cons, Pricing)

Looking for some brilliant Excel alternatives?

For more than 30 years, this spreadsheet software has been used by almost everyone: from high-school students to the scientists at NASA. 🚀

However, the way we work continues to change at light speed, and Excel has been slow in catching up.

Because of this, many professionals (just like you 😉) are looking for Excel alternatives that can do a whole lot more. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at six advanced alternatives to Excel, along with their key features, pros, cons, and pricing.

Let’s jump right into it.

Why Do You Need A Microsoft Excel Alternative?

There’s no doubt that Microsoft Excel is an iconic spreadsheet program. 

You might have used it at least once to calculate stuff, store sales data, or to create a masterpiece! 🎨

mario in an excel sheet

But just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. 

Excel always had a few problems, but they’ve become more visible now that there are tons of Microsoft Excel alternatives to take its place. This new spreadsheet software can patch up the issues you might face while using Microsoft Excel. 

Take a look at some of these issues:

A. Unable to customize

When it comes to customization, the best Excel can do is provide templates. 

Templates are like a store-bought suit. If they fit your purpose well, great. But in most cases, templates may not have everything you need to manage specialized tasks.

The best Excel alternatives are like fancy tailor-made suits; they’ll be a perfect fit for your business. 😎

B. Limited reporting features

Sure, Microsoft Excel offers charts, diagrams, and graphs about your project. But they only visualize the data that’s on your screen.

There’s no way of knowing how long it takes to finish a task or how much work a team member has on their plate. 

Due to this, setting up a project management plan in Excel is as tricky as assembling Ikea furniture for the first time!

C. Expensive

Want to buy Microsoft Excel? 

You’ll need to shell out the big bucks; $139.99 to be exact. 

With this hefty price, we’d expect this Office software to enlist Clippy to do all the work for you!

microsoft's clippy character

You can also get Excel as a part of the Microsoft 365 package for $6.99 per month. 

However, you’ll also have to buy it alongside other tools like MS Word, Powerpoint, and Outlook even when you don’t want them.

The 6 Best Microsoft Excel Alternatives In 2021

Now that we have seen why Excel isn’t as great as it used to be, here are the best six Microsoft Excel alternatives that you can use today:

1. ClickUp

clickup devices 2021

ClickUp is the world’s leading project management software and productivity suite.

It’s used by 100,000+ teams in promising startups to huge businesses like Nike, Airbnb, and Google.

ClickUp offers almost every spreadsheet solution in the book, and not only that, it also offers powerful task management features to make the most of your spreadsheet data.

Let’s see why ClickUp is one of the best free alternatives to Excel:

A. Table view

While an Excel spreadsheet is a great way to manage, edit, and organize raw data, what if you could do the same thing for your tasks?

Well, now you can.

The Table view arranges all your tasks along with their details (assignees, status, due date, etc.) in a cool grid like so:

table view in clickup

Fortunately, you don’t need x-ray specs to see everything. 

The Table view allows you to determine the progress of each project task in a blink of an eye.

Here are a few more things you can do with this view:

  • Copy-paste your table into another spreadsheet like an Excel file or Google sheet 
  • Pin a column you’d like to see at all times while you browse through your table 
  • Autosize your columns to prevent the text from cutting out
  • Share your tables with literally anyone via a personal link  

B. Formula Fields

Sure, ClickUp can organize tons of data, but…

simpson character asking to do math

You bet!

With ClickUp, you can make simple and complex calculations in numeric Custom Fields within your task. 

Let’s break this down:

A numeric Custom Field can store task details such as hours, numbers, budgets. You can add up all these numbers with the help of Formula Fields.

But why?

By doing these calculations, you can figure out things like the cost of an advertising campaign, numbers of hours worked, etc. 

formula fields in clickup

Want to use that old Excel formula that served you well?

You can create your own advanced formulas from a list of 70 unique functions in ClickUp!

C. Column Calculations

Speaking of quick maths, ClickUp can also help you find the sum, average, or range for an entire column.

calculating in clickup

This way, you can quickly determine project budgets, Scrum points, time estimates, etc.

D. Flexible Views

If you use any MS Office app, like Excel, you’re stuck with one boring view of all your data.

ClickUp does the exact opposite. 

It can shapeshift to adapt to your working style. You can view your projects and tasks from different angles with just a click. 

Here’s a list of useful views you can flip through at any time:

reordering columns in clickup list view

E. Gantt View

Gantt Charts lets you visualize and schedule all your project tasks in a neat little timeline.

While Microsoft Excel doesn’t have an explicit Gantt Chart feature, you can technically create one with the help of a stacked bar chart or you can just slap on an Excel template.

There’s one problem, though. 

Each time you need to reschedule or add a new task, you’ll have to manually edit the timeline yourself. If you’re managing a project timeline that’s rapidly changing every day, we won’t be surprised if you feel like this:

simpson character pushing computer into trash

With the Gantt View, you don’t have to lose your hair over timeline edits.

Here’s what’s this Gantt chart automatically does:

  • Re-adjusts dependent tasks after changing the project schedule
  • Determines the sequence of tasks that are critical to the success of the project (critical path)
  • Shows the progress of the project in real-time 
  • Creates Task Dependencies when you draw a line between two tasks
linking tasks in a gantt chart

F. Dashboards

ClickUp is one of the best alternatives to Excel because it’s filled to the brim with useful charts, diagrams, graphs, and metrics

You can choose from:

  • Line Chart
  • Battery Chart
  • (Pie) Chart 🥧
  • Calculations

You name it, ClickUp’s got it. Arrange all these Custom Widgets to create a virtual command center or Dashboard. 

clickup dashboard

With the Dashboard, you get comprehensive insights into tasks, sprints, projects, team members’ performance, $$$ (profits), etc.

ClickUp Pros

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Comments and Chat View make it possible to collaborate in real-time
  • Offline Mode makes it possible to work even without an internet connection
  • Create dynamic customer survey forms with the Form view
  • Tons of Keyboard Shortcuts to help you zip through your work
  • Ability to track time spent on tasks with the Global Timer
  • Offers a built-in word processor for office documents called Docs (similar to a Google Doc but better!)
  • Never forget an important comment, task, or meeting with Reminders
  • Offers lots of integrations with popular work tools like Zoom, Salesforce, Time Doctor, and more
  • More than 50 Automations to help you automate repetitive tasks

ClickUp Cons

  • Can’t export Dashboards

ClickUp is working at hyper speed to address these issues with new and exciting features. Check out the product roadmap here.

You can even vote on the ClickUp feature you’d like to see next!

ClickUp Pricing

ClickUp’s free plan is jam-packed with features and supports unlimited users. Its paid plans start at $5/user per month.

ClickUp Customer Ratings

G2: 4.7/5 (2000+ reviews)

Capterra: 4.7/5 (2000+ reviews)

2. Google Sheets

google sheets homepage

Google Sheets is a spreadsheet tool that has almost the same capabilities as Excel. 

This tool operates online and offers cloud storage. That means multiple team members can work on the same Google sheet at the same time.

But since MS Office Suite has its own internet-based spreadsheet app (Excel Online), is Google Sheets still a worthy Excel alternative, or has Microsoft put it to bed for good?

Let’s find out:

Key Features

  • Supports macros, which can be used to automate repetitive tasks
  • Auto-save feature preserves the Google spreadsheet data
  • Comments can be used to leave quick feedback
  • Functionality can be extended with add-ons

Pros

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Allows real-time collaboration
  • Integrates well with Google tools (Google Docs, Slides, etc.)

Cons

  • Offers fewer data visualizations, charts, and graphs than an Excel file 
  • Spreadsheet program can slow down when managing a lot of data
  • Doesn’t have enough keyboard shortcuts like Microsoft Excel and Excel Online
  • Hard to configure alerts and reminders in a Google sheet

Pricing

Unlike the Microsoft Office Suite, G Suite tools, including Google Sheets, are available for free.

Customer Ratings

  • G2: 4.6/5 (1100+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (11100+ reviews)

3. Gnumeric

gnumeric homepage

Gnumeric is an open source spreadsheet program for any UNIX-based operating system (like Linux.) 

It boasts advanced analytic features and superior accuracy, which makes a good choice for scientists, engineers, students, and Homer here:

simpson character thinking

However, Gnumeric’s web page, and interface looks like it’s stuck in the 2000s, but are its features as outdated as they seem? 

Let’s find out:

Key Features

  • Offers all Excel workbook functions + 200 other unique functions
  • Extensive random number generation can be used for statistics and cryptography
  • Linear and non-linear solvers for advanced mathematical calculations

Pros

  • Highly accurate functions make it great for data analysis
  • Can import almost any file format, including Microsoft Office formats,  Lotus 1-2-3, HTML, and more
  • Since it’s an open source tool, Gnumeric can be modified to suit your needs

Cons

  • Bare-bones user interface might not be appealing for some users
  • Lacks a pivot table feature to summarize spreadsheet data
  • No macros to automate tasks
  • Advanced functionality is overwhelming for new users

Pricing

Since it’s open source, Gnumeric is a completely free Excel alternative. 

Customer Ratings

  • G2: NA
  • Capterra: NA

4. Numbers

numbers homepage

Numbers is Apple’s answer to Microsoft Excel. It’s a part of the iWork suite (a Microsoft Office alternative.) 

This spreadsheet app is super simple, which makes it great for beginners and casual users.

But does that mean Numbers is not the sharpest spreadsheet tool in the shed? 

Let’s find out:

Key Features

  • Vibrant charts and diagrams to visualize information
  •  Smart categories can be used to organize and summarize data
  •  Embed online videos (Youtube, Vimeo) within the spreadsheet 

Pros

  • Sleek and user-friendly interface; great for touch screen devices like the iPad
  • Allows team members to collaborate in real-time
  • Compatible with Microsoft Excel files and functions (VLOOKUP, TRANSPOSE, etc.)

Cons

  • Doesn’t support advanced formulas, equations
  • Lacks advanced data analysis features
  • Veteran Excel users might take time to get used to new functions 

Pricing

Numbers is a free Office or Excel alternative.

Customer Ratings

  • G2: 4.3/5 (90+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.3/5 (1700+ reviews)

5. Smartsheet

smartsheet homepage

Smartsheet is part project management tool, part spreadsheet application. It can help you manage and track projects right out of its signature ‘grid’ view.

But how well does this Microsoft Excel alternative stack up against the real thing? Let’s take a look:

Key Features

  • Multiple views like grid view, calendar view, Gantt view, and more
  • Interactive dashboard to see the project progress in real-time
  • Set alerts and reminders for deadlines
  • Automated workflows to cut down on repetitive tasks

Pros

  • Dedicated resource management features
  • Pre-built project templates (similar to an Excel template)
  • An app for every mobile device such as Android, iOS, tablets, etc.

Cons

  • Limited conditional formatting and advanced Excel formulas 
  • Not a fully-fledged task management solution
  • No in-built time tracking features
  • Costlier than other Microsoft Excel alternatives

Pricing

Paid plans start at $14 per month for an individual and $25/user per month for businesses.

Customer Ratings

  • G2: 4.3/5 (2300+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.4/5 (1500+ reviews)

Looking for a ‘smarter’ Smartsheet alternative? This list of Smartsheet alternatives has got you covered.

6. Zoho Sheet

zoho homepage

A part of the Zoho Office Suite, Zoho Sheet is a cloud-based Excel alternative. 

This spreadsheet tool allows remote teams to organize project data and create detailed reports from any device.

But how good is it really? Let’s find out:

Key Features

  • Visually appealing conditional formatting with color scales and in-built icons
  • Audit trail to see who has made changes to the sheet
  • Data cleaner removes duplicates, prevents data mismatches, and more.

Pros

  • Large range of predefined Excel formulas  
  • Ability to lock certain cells in the spreadsheet app to prevent accidental edits
  • Supports almost every file format, which includes Microsoft Excel formats, .csv, .ods, .tds, .html and .pdf  

Cons

  • No offline mode
  • Unable to link data in two spreadsheets
  • Mobile app can’t be used offline.

Pricing

Zoho Sheet is a free excel alternative.

Customer Ratings

  • G2: 4.6/5 (50+ reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.4/5 (30+ reviews)

Setting The Record Straight 📀

Microsoft Excel is like a vinyl record player. 

It’s excel-lent at what it does and has many die-hard fans. 

However, Excel faces the same issues as a record player; it’s bulky, hard-to-use, and doesn’t offer quite as many features as its contemporaries.

And just like how vinyl is playing second fiddle to streaming services, many new tools have taken Excel’s place.

The best alternatives to Excel have all the features Excel has and a few more. And while each tool we listed here has something to offer, there’s nothing like ClickUp!

It’s got a Table view to organize data, Formula Fields to calculate stuff, Dashboards to create super-detailed reports, and even macro-like Automations to breeze through repetitive tasks!

So, why not get ClickUp for free today, and pump up the tempo of your business today!

michael scott dancing

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