(as of 2/17/2021)
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- Provides Microsoft Excel's basic features in a cloud-based application
- Saves spreadsheets automatically to Google Drive
- Allows users to share and edit spreadsheets with others over the web
- Includes up to 15 GB of free storage
- Opens .XLSX, .ODS, .CSV and other standard spreadsheet files
Google Sheets is a cloud-based spreadsheet program included in the Google Workspace suite. Anyone with a Google account can use Google Sheets to create personal and business spreadsheets, including project trackers, budgets, to-do lists, calendars, and data visualizations. Users can then save and share their spreadsheets over the web or by downloading them as .XLSX, .CSV, or .PDF files.
Microsoft Excel users will recognize the majority of Google Sheets' features. Google Sheets allows users to create spreadsheets from templates, open pre-existing XLSX, CSV, and .ODS spreadsheets, format spreadsheets' layout, add multiple, tab-based sheets, sort data, and perform calculations. Sheets also includes many of Excel's advanced features, including the ability to create pivot tables and record and utilize macros. While Sheets lacks Excel's depth (for example, Excel includes more templates and formulas), Google continually adds new features to Google Sheets. Because Sheets is a web-based program, those new features are made available instantaneously, making it simple for users to take advantage of additional and upgraded functionality.
Sheets' status as a web-first program is its greatest strength, but it is also the app's greatest weakness. Sheets' connection to Google Drive ensures users' spreadsheets are automatically saved to Google's servers, eliminating the need to manually save and store documents. Users can also easily share spreadsheets over the Internet, and multiple users can open and edit the same Sheets spreadsheet simultaneously. However, because Sheets is a web-based program, it struggles to handle large or complex datasets that Excel can process more easily. Sheets' reliance on the Internet also means users who encounter unexpected or prolonged Internet outages may struggle to access important spreadsheets unless they've previously made those spreadsheets available to edit offline.
While Google Sheets is primarily a web-based app, limited versions of the application are available for Android and iOS devices. This makes the app perfect for those who like to create, edit, or refer to spreadsheets on-the-go. Google Sheets is also free-to-use provided you do not exceed Google Drive's free 15 GB storage limit, though again, you must sign up for a Google account to use Google Sheets.
Google account users who are okay with trading Microsoft Excel's depth and reliability for web-optimized storage, sharing, and collaboration features should consider using Google Sheets. Sheets includes all of Excel's essential features at a price point that can't be beat. Just be careful not to rely on Google Sheets to manage large datasets or access spreadsheets at times when Internet access is not guaranteed.
Supported File Types
Primary file extension
Other file extensions used by Google Sheets 2021
|Supported File Types|
|.CSV||Comma-Separated Values File|
|.GSHEET||Google Sheets Shortcut|
|.TAB||Tab Separated Data File|
|.TSV||Tab-Separated Values File|
|.XLS||Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (Legacy)|
|.XLSM||Microsoft Excel Macro-Enabled Spreadsheet|
|Additional Related File Formats|
|.HTML||Hypertext Markup Language File|
|Portable Document Format File|
|.XLT||Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Template (Legacy)|
|.XLTM||Microsoft Excel Macro-Enabled Spreadsheet Template|
|.XLTX||Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Template|
Updated: February 17, 2021