Confused between Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel?
It all depends on your specific requirements. If you need powerful spreadsheet software for complex data management, then choose Microsoft Excel. Whereas, if you are looking for easy-to-use spreadsheet software to analyze and organize data, then Google Sheets is the perfect tool.
Both of them are similar in many areas. You may find that almost all of the formulas used in Microsoft Excel are compatible with Google Sheets as well.
Simply put, they both organize datasets in the form of a table.
But there are a few key differences.
In this article, let us unfold the mystery of “Google Sheets vs Microsoft Excel.” This is a handy guide for both beginners at spreadsheet programs and experts who deal with complex datasets to prepare reports.
Quick Comparison: Google Sheets vs Microsoft Excel
Google Sheets is an easy-to-use tool with all the bells and whistles an average user may wish within a spreadsheet program.
On the other hand, Microsoft Excel is a fully developed spreadsheet software with advanced tools for data organization and analysis.
|Microsoft Excel||Google Sheets|
|Launch||Microsoft Excel has been in the market since 1985.||Whereas Google Sheets was introduced on 9 March 2006.|
|Accessibility||It can be accessed with or without an internet connection.||Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet program that requires an internet connection.|
|User Interface||Excellent user interface but has a steep learning curve||Easy to use and intuitive user interface that can be mastered within few days|
|Collaboration||Real-time collaboration is possible but requires additional steps to setup||Best spreadsheet program for real-time collaboration. Includes live chat and version history feature|
|Formulas||Total – 512Unique – 45Common – 467||Total – 514Unique – 47Common – 467|
|Analysis||Offers a complete suit of tools and functions for advanced data analysis||Google Sheets has an extensive collection of data analysis tools but lacks a few statistical functions|
|Visualization||Ability to create charts from a complex dataset. Intelligent reporting for in-depth data analysis||Data visualization tools are excellent but not as powerful as Microsoft Excel|
|Keyboard Shortcuts||A limited number of keyboard shortcuts as Google Sheets is a browser-based spreadsheet program that can create conflicts with browser shortcuts||A Huge number of keyboard shortcuts boosts the user’s ability to handle datasets and prepare reports|
|Price||You need to pay $6.99 per month for a Microsoft or Office 365 Personal plan||Free to use|
Google Sheets is an ideal tool for people who don’t wish to spend hundreds of dollars on spreadsheet software. This free-to-use tool comes at no compromise to the spreadsheet features someone requires to perform complex calculations.
Google Sheets – (Best for Team Collaboration)
Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet program with growing demand. Within a short period, it has gained immense popularity and become the top alternative to Microsoft Excel.
It offers several benefits over Microsoft Excel, which has been in the market for a very long.
1. Real-time Collaboration
Google Sheets mainly focuses on offering best-in-class tools for team collaboration.
A Google Sheet can be shared with unlimited users. They can make changes to the spreadsheet based on their roles. Users can either edit, comment, or view a Google spreadsheet.
The program displays online users in the upper-rightmost corner of the screen. Additionally, you can view the cell which they are editing.
The “Version history” feature helps you quickly overlook all the changes made by your teammates over time. You can also undo the changes and restore a particular version of the file using this feature.
You will surely fall in love with the Live chat feature of Google Sheets. But don’t use it to hang out with teammates when you are free. I was kidding 😉
Without any doubt, the seamless collaboration tools offered by Google Sheets help it dominate Microsoft Excel.
2. Intuitive User Interface
Google Sheets offers an easy-to-use and intuitive user interface. It offers clear navigation to most of the important tools and functions.
Anyone can master this minimalistic user interface within a few days.
In contrast to Microsoft Excel, it boasts a simple-to-use main menu and toolbar section.
The toolbar section aims to allow quick access to all the formatting tools offered by Google Sheets. The toolbar is pretty straightforward. Beginners will hardly take an hour to explore and learn it.
For people who are just starting out with spreadsheet programs, Google Sheets’s intuitive user interface is going to be a lifesaver.
Google Sheets is a totally free-to-use program. All you need is a Google account.
For advanced collaboration and seamless connection between various products developed by Google, you can choose the Google Workspace business plan that starts at $6 per month per user.
However, most of the time, you don’t need to opt-in for Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) to use Google Sheets.
Google Workspace aims to provide custom emails to subscribers and offer advanced integration between various Google products such as Drive, Meet, Calendar, etc.
If you are not looking forward to integrating Google Sheets with any other Google product, then no need to purchase a Google Workspace subscription plan.
Go ahead and use Google Sheets for free!
The good news is all of the Google Sheets features and tools discussed in this article are free to use for people who have a Google account.
4. Create Filter Views
This is a helpful feature for an organization where multiple people use a Google spreadsheet that includes hundreds and thousands of rows.
For example, consider a spreadsheet containing thousands of products and respective orders generated per month.
Let us assume your sales team is responsible for a category of products.
Now, if you filter the spreadsheet by your category, others won’t be able to look at the data of their respective categories because the current spreadsheet view contains filtered data.
So, to avoid this conflict, you can create a filtered view which will be visible to an individual or group of people from your team.
This way, others who are online in the spreadsheet will be able to access it without any interruptions.
5. Google Apps Script
It is a powerful tool to develop business applications. Users can integrate their applications with various Google Workspace products.
The main goal behind this cloud-based scripting language is to extend the functionality of Google Apps.
So, this tool is for advanced Google Sheets users.
There are plenty of built-in functionalities and tools within Google Sheets. But when it falls short of your requirements, use Apps Script to create your functions to automate workflows.
6. Integration with External Data Sources
Google Sheets can be easily connected with Google BigQuery, which is one of the best enterprise data warehouses with a scalable analytics engine.
BigQuery can store all of your company’s information regardless of size and make it available to everyone for further calculations and analysis.
Google Sheets integration with BigQuery offers life-changing insights for organizations.
Apart from BigQuery, users can simply use a range of built-in functions, such as IMPORTXML, to pull data from websites.
You can pull data from both Google Workspace products as well as third-party websites with a snap of your fingers. Note that you don’t need to be an expert at Google Sheets to do this; it all boils down to your willingness to learn Google Sheets by exploring online guides and how-to articles.
- Free to use
- Beginner-friendly user interface
- Autosave to Google Drive
- A cloud-based platform that can be integrated with Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) apps for added functionality
- Built for real-time collaboration
- Live chat
- Assign different roles to users while sharing
- Version history and Restore feature
- Decent selection of data visualization tools
- Create Filter views for improved collaboration
- Google Apps Script to automate workflows
- Seamless integration with Google BigQuery
- Create charts automatically with explore
- Perfect for both individual and business use
- Supports almost all types of spreadsheet formats
- Users need to rely on Google Docs Offline Chrome extension for offline editing
- Huge data size may slow down the program
- Supports very few keyboard shortcuts
- Sharing links or access through email may leave company data vulnerable
- Sometimes, it is hard to tell who edited the spreadsheet when a huge number of people are working simultaneously
- A limited number of statistical tests and functions
Google Sheets is a free-to-use program. Users need a free Google account to access this spreadsheet software.
It is a part of Google Workspace (formerly G Guite). If you plan to connect Google Sheets with other apps from Google Workspace, then you need to subscribe to one of the following paid plans.
- Business Starter – It starts at $6 per user per month and includes business email, 24/7 customer support, 30GB cloud storage, enterprise-grade access control, advanced security, etc.
- Business Standard – It starts at $12 per user per month and boasts 2TB storage, vault, advanced cloud search tools, etc.
- Business Plus – It starts at $18 per user per month and comes with 5TB storage, advanced security and administration controls, premium cloud apps, etc.
Google Workspace plans are for business users.
You can use Google Sheets without any limitations on features for personal use.
Most of the Google Sheets users use it for free, including us!
Additionally, users will be given 15GB of free Google Drive storage, which is enough for storing thousands of spreadsheets. Note that this free storage is given to all Google account users.
Microsoft Excel – (Best for Visualization and Complex Data Organization)
Microsoft Excel has been the go-to tool for nearly every office employee over the last few decades.
Excel is one of the most used Microsoft Office apps.
It is helping business owners make informed decisions using data. The spreadsheet program lets users perform complex calculations to prepare annual growth rates, monthly sales and future performance, ROIs, etc.
At some point in your life, you may have heard of VLOOKUP and Pivot Tables. Both of these are at the heart of Microsoft Excel.
Microsoft Excel is popular for the range of formulas it offers. They are used for performing various calculations.
When you click on any cell and find that it starts with the “=” symbol, then it means that the cell contains a formula.
There are a total of 512 formulas in Microsoft Excel. It includes mathematical, text, financial, lookup, conditional, statistical, and more types of functions. Most of them are available in Google Sheets as well. But, Google Sheets lacks a few critical ones, such as statistical and test formulas.
In contrast to browser-based Excel, the desktop version includes more formulas and allows complex calculations.
Microsoft Excel uses the Flash Fill feature to insert the formula for hundreds and thousands of cells within a few minutes.
2. Advanced Data Organization and Visualization Tools
When it comes to Data Visualization, nobody can beat Microsoft’s Excel.
It is the best spreadsheet program with a range of tools and functions that lets users turn complex data into useful insights.
Google Sheets is also taking big leaps in this area, but still, to this date, Microsoft Excel has an extensive collection of formulas and tools for advanced data analysis.
From using Pivot tables to summarize large datasets to forecasting features for finding annual growth rates over the next few years, Microsoft Excel is the favorite tool of millions of corporate employees across the globe.
Users can manage large datasets in various ways using Excel’s built-in formulas.
3. Comprehensive range of Charts and Graphs
It is a part of data visualization, but we have put it separately as Microsoft Excel offers a comprehensive range of charts and graphs. Apart from the standard column, bar, and line charts, users can create the following charts:
- Waterfall charts
- Pie Charts
- Stock Charts
- Gantt charts
- Kanban boards
- Pivot charts
- Stock Charts
Note that most of the advanced charts mentioned above need to be prepared manually using built-in functions and tools.
On the other hand, for beginners, the Excel Recommended Charts feature is a lifesaver. It prepares basic yet powerful reports to impress their boss or manager within a few minutes.
Simply put, a range of visually appealing Graphs and Charts available in Microsoft Excel lets it standout amongst its rivals.
4. Keyboard Shortcuts
This is a benefit of choosing Microsoft Excel over Google Sheets.
A range of useful keyboard shortcuts empowers well-developed software, and Microsoft Excel is no exception here.
It offers a multitude of keyboard shortcuts to boost your data organization and analysis speed. Users can perform tasks quickly and more effectively.
In contrast to Google Sheets, which can create conflicts with browsers when it comes to keyboard shortcuts, Microsoft Excel boasts several hundreds of keyboard shortcuts to help users with data entry, basic mathematical calculations, adjusting cell formatting, and much more.
Note that it will be impossible for you to remember all of them. However, it is really helpful to practice and master the most common ones.
5. Unlimited Storage
Unlike Google Sheets, users need to shell out $159.99 per desktop and purchase a standalone license to use Microsoft Excel.
It comes with several benefits at this price tag. One of them is unlimited OneDrive storage. You can store an unlimited number of spreadsheets in OneDrive.
Additionally, Microsoft Excel automatically saves all your files within OneDrive.
6. Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications
Users can leverage VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) to automate various tasks in Microsoft Excel. Beginners can master the VBA language within a few days.
It can be used with other Microsoft apps, including Word and PowerPoint.
If you have ever heard of macros in Excel, then VBA lets you create those macros to automate repetitive tasks, generate reports, and prepare graphs.
From routine tasks to developing complex business applications, the VBA is a powerful programming language for advanced Microsoft Office users.
Both Apps Script by Google Sheets and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) by Microsoft Excel boast an easy-to-use and intuitive user interface for beginners.
7. Integration with Power Query
Power Query has brought a revolution to data analytics using spreadsheet programs.
It is an application embedded within Microsoft Excel to help users transform complex data into useful reports.
You can collect data from sources, including cloud services, websites, text files, spreadsheet programs, PDFs, etc. and shape it into reports that communicate insights effectively for data-driven decision-making.
All you need to do is set up a query once. Then, you can fetch and transform fresh data any time you wish.
However, this is one of the underutilized features of Microsoft Excel that has lots of potential.
It is one of the most powerful automation tools of 2024. So, make sure to install this free add-on and start exploring it in your free time.
Note that the Power Query offers an easy-to-use interface. Beginners can learn to use Power Query within a few days with consistent efforts. It has an incredibly short learning curve.
8. Windows-oriented Program
Microsoft launches Windows-focused programs. That being said, Excel aims at Windows users only, for the most part.
Don’t get confused! All of the basic tools and functions work seamlessly within both Windows and Mac PCs.
However, anyone who is willing to explore the full powers of Microsoft Excel should choose Windows as the primary operating system.
The Mac version of Excel is missing lots of keyboard shortcuts and powerful features such as Pivot Charts, Autosave, and advanced VBA code capabilities.
As a Windows user, you will get early access to Excel updates, leverage advanced data visualization tools, and so on.
- Powerful formulas and tools for advanced data visualization
- Faster computational speed
- A multitude of keyboard shortcuts
- Users can create a wide range of charts and graphs
- Recommended Charts feature lets users create basic insightful charts in a moment
- It is pretty straightforward for basic data entry
- Flash Fill tool to insert formula in an entire column
- VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) for automating repetitive tasks
- Free Power Query add-on
- Offers unlimited OneDrive storage
- Steep learning curve
- Different versions of Excel return errors while collaboration
- Not a budget-friendly choice for personal use
- Troubleshooting is cumbersome
- Most of the powerful tools are hidden within the navigation menu and are represented by small icons
Excel is a part of Microsoft Office suite apps.
You can purchase it separately as a standalone license for the price of $159.99 per desktop. It will give you lifetime access to the tool.
On the other hand, you can purchase monthly or yearly Microsoft or Office Subscription to access Excel.
Family and Personal Use Plans,
- Microsoft 365 Personal – $6.99 per month and $69.99 per year
- Microsoft 365 Family – $9.99 per month and $99.99 per year
The Family plan includes access to 6 users and 1TB of storage per user.
You can choose any of the above plans on a monthly and yearly basis. If you choose a yearly plan, it will save you up to 16.5%.
- Basic – It starts at $6 per user per month
- Business – It starts at $8.25 per user per month
- Standard – It starts at $12.50 per user per month
- Premium – It starts at $19.80 per user per month
All Business plan subscriptions come with a custom email and 1TB of cloud storage per user. For their added price tags, you will get advanced security, cyber threat protection, control access, priority customer customer support, etc.
To Summarize: Who’s the Winner?
Microsoft Excel is the winner here if you are looking for a spreadsheet program with powerful computational and data visualization tools.
However, Google Sheets have come a long way. So, don’t think that Google Sheets is inferior to Microsoft Excel.
There is no chance!
From calculating a company’s annual growth to forecasting future performance, almost anything that can be done using Microsoft Excel is possible within Google Sheets.
Microsoft Excel costs $6.99/month or $69.99/year per user, which is a significant investment if you are just starting out or a part of a small organization.
So, in that case, we suggest going for Google Sheets, which is free to use without any compromise to the features for complex data organization.
Here’s a list of frequently asked questions when it comes to choosing Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel for performing various calculations and preparing reports.
Q. Is Google Sheets the same as Microsoft Excel?
Both Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are the top spreadsheet programs in the market. They look similar to beginners.
However, there are key differences.
Microsoft Excel is the best tool for Windows users, and it is a perfect fit for complex data analysis. It comparatively holds more data with added rows and columns. Users need to pay at least $6.99 per month per user to own an Excel.
On the other hand, Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet program that has powerful team collaboration features. It is easy to use and can be mastered within several days.
Q. Can I replace Microsoft Excel with Google Sheets?
Yes, of course. They both can be used for data entry and basic reporting.
You can use Google Sheets if you have just started. It contains lots of functions and tools that are similar to Microsoft Excel.
I suggest that users start with Google Sheets and use Apps Script in case they don’t find any feature or function to perform the given task.
But please note that Microsoft Excel’s data visualization tools are unbeatable. If you need a solid spreadsheet program for data transformation and organization, then stay with Excel.
Q. What can Google Sheets do that Microsoft Excel can’t?
Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel share many common features. But Google Sheets team collaboration features are incredibly powerful. It comes with live chat and version history features.
As an online spreadsheet program that can be accessed using a browser, Google Sheets offers the same features and tools for both Windows and Mac owners.
Beginners can easily access all of the Google Sheets functions and tools using the main menu and toolbar section that sits right below the main menu.
It comes with a short learning curve.
Q. What can Microsoft Excel do that Google Sheets can’t?
Microsoft Excel has been in the market for the last few decades. It can hold a large volume of data due to added rows and columns compared to Google Sheets.
The data organization and visualization tools offered by Microsoft Excel are unparalleled. It boasts a few powerful functions that are missing in Google Sheets.
A seamless integration between Excel and Power Query allows users to transform and analyze datasets quickly and effectively.
The program supports hundreds of keyboard shortcuts for quick data organization and analysis.
Q. Can I import an Excel file into Google Sheets?
Of course. You can export an Excel file into Google Sheets without losing any data.
We suggest importing an Excel file to Google Sheets. You can follow the steps below:
- Open a new Google Sheet by clicking here
- Hover to the main menu and click on “File” tab
- Select “Import” from the popup
- A new dialog box will appear
- Now, you can either drag and drop an Excel file or select it from your drive or local folder
- Once you drag and drop an Excel file, Google Sheets will let you choose if you wish to replace the current spreadsheet or create a new one
- Next, click on the “Import data” button
It is pretty straightforward to import Microsoft Excel into Google Sheets.
Q. Can I edit Google Sheets offline?
If you are using Google Chrome as your browser, you need to install the Google Docs Offline extension to edit Google Sheets offline.
Click here to install the extension from the Google Web Store.
Q. Does Google Sheets have the same functions as Microsoft Excel?
Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel share a lot of common functions.
Microsoft Excel boasts 512 formulas. In comparison, Google Sheets comes with 514.
Almost 467 out of them are common between Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel. An average user may never notice any significant difference between the formulas of these spreadsheet programs.
However, advanced users will find that a few statistical and testing functions available in Microsoft Excel are missing in Google Sheets.
Q. Which is best for team collaboration: Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel?
Obviously, Google Sheets is the best-in-class spreadsheet program for team collaboration.
It dominates every other spreadsheet program on the market with an excellent combination of functions and team collaboration tools.
The web version of Microsoft Excel can be used for team collaboration, but it is not as effective and efficient as Google Sheets.
Q. Do companies use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel?
Microsoft Excel is a decade-old spreadsheet program which is popular amongst organizations of all sizes.
On the other hand, Google Sheets is continuously launching new tools and features to withstand the needs of people who deal with data and reporting.
To this date, Microsoft Excel boasts powerful tools for data visualization compared to Google Sheets. So, it is the top choice of most of the companies that have a huge volume of datasets.
Q. What are the limitations of Google Sheets?
Google Sheets is one of the best spreadsheet programs, without any doubt.
However, you need to consider the following drawbacks before getting started.
- A limited number of statistical functions for advanced data analysis
- Slow loading time when the data size is huge
- Fewer keyboard shortcuts
- Sometimes, it is hard to find the person who made specific edits
The above drawbacks may not bother the beginners. However, advanced users may get overwhelmed by fewer keyboard shortcuts and slow loading time while performing various calculations on large volumes of data.