The Best Excel Alternatives for 2024

The Best Excel Alternatives for 2024

Author Swathi Bhat
Author Swathi Bhat

Swathi B.

March 6, 2024

3/6/24

Mar 6, 2024

3/6/24

14 min read

Logos for alternative software to Excel
Logos for alternative software to Excel
Logos for alternative software to Excel
Logos for alternative software to Excel

Few people are excited by the notion of spreadsheets, but when you find them, their enthusiasm is undeniable. New and exciting tools are available for those who enjoy the rows and columns of spreadsheets.

Excel has been the biggest name in spreadsheets for a long time, but that’s down to the lack of alternatives previously on the market. Today, many free and premium tools offer a better user experience with cleaner, more intuitive interfaces. They also offer important collaborative features and greater flexibility.

In this article, we’re looking at seven tools that challenge Excel for its crown. Whether you’re a solo developer or part of an enterprise team, these tools can revolutionize your spreadsheets.

What should you look for in an alternative to Excel?

Moving on from Excel, or are you keen to see what else is available?

Excel, despite being the go-to spreadsheet software for many, has areas where it could improve, especially as user needs evolve. It is used daily by 66% of office workers, with 90% rating their skills as intermediate to expert. Yet, as users seek more streamlined and efficient tools, any alternative to Excel should not only match but exceed Excel's offerings in several key areas.

Excel can be cumbersome and intimidating to those who are not deeply familiar with its functionalities. Alternatives should offer a more intuitive and user-friendly interface that simplifies complex tasks without extensive training.

Here are some of the things to keep a lookout for:

  • Collaboration: First, you need to think about real-time collaboration. Are you part of a team with multiple people needing to access and edit the spreadsheets? Or are you working solo and won’t need any special collaboration tools?

  • Advanced features: Access to advanced spreadsheet features is a must. Look for alternatives that offer features like data analysis, pivot tables, and conditional formatting.

  • Cloud-based access: Cloud-based access is increasingly important for flexibility and remote work.

  • Pricing: Pricing models vary, with options ranging from one-off purchases to subscriptions. Evaluate whether the tool's cost works within your budget and whether a free plan offers enough functionality.

  • Ease of use: Look for an intuitive interface and consider the learning curve for new users.

  • Security and data protection: Since data sensitivity is often handled in spreadsheets, security measures and data protection policies are non-negotiable.

  • Customer and community support: Effective customer support and active community forums can be invaluable for troubleshooting and learning advanced features.

We’ve selected a range of options suitable for novice to advanced users. Some have special unique selling points (USPs) aiming to solve problems Excel users encounter, while others provide a more general alternative, including totally free options.

7 best Excel alternatives

Whether you’ve been using Excel for decades or jumping straight in with a modern alternative, there are plenty of options on the market.

Here are seven of the standout choices:

1. Lark - Best overall alternative

Lark is the timesaver you’ve been looking for. Built for enterprises, Lark provides you with a suite of real-time collaboration tools and enables you to automate tasks.


Screenshot of a Lark spreadsheet


Unlike Excel, which primarily offers a grid view, Lark provides multiple views of data, including list, Kanban, Gantt, and gallery views. This flexibility lets users choose how to visualize their projects and tasks.

Key features

  • Lark x OpenAI Integration: Generate content at scale with the powerful combination of Lark and OpenAI, turning your data into actionable insights.

  • One-click Excel import: Easily import data from Excel and utilize Lark's data visualization tools to transform numbers into charts, graphs, and more.

  • Industry-Specific Templates: Access a wide range of templates designed for various industries, significantly reducing the time needed for setup.

  • Embedded Databases: Create and insert databases directly into your documents and presentations, a feature not readily available in Excel.

  • All-in-One Workspace: Lark combines spreadsheets, data visualization, collaboration tools, and in-app chat into a single platform, streamlining your workflow.

Use cases

Lark's feature set makes it ideal for various uses, from startups looking to scale to businesses operating globally. Lark helps you get started with plenty of templates available like our Purchase Order Management template, perfect for retail and e-commerce teams.

For startups, Lark offers a particularly enticing package: a complimentary 6-month Pro membership. This isn't just about access to advanced features; it's a gateway to exclusive mentorship and events designed to accelerate growth and operational excellence.

On the global front, Lark addresses one of the most significant challenges of international collaboration: language barriers. With real-time translation capabilities into over 100 languages and a multilingual interface, Lark ensures that teams across different countries can communicate and collaborate as if they were in the same office.

Lark vs. Excel

While Excel is a powerful tool in its own right, it often requires integration with other software to tap into its capabilities and save time entirely. On the other hand, Lark is a full suite of tools that offers an attractive and intuitive design, real-time language translation, and built-in templates, making it a superior choice for teams looking for an integrated platform.

Integrations

If you’re heading to Lark from Excel, it’s easy to bring your data along with you. Importing is as simple as a single click within Lark. Beyond Excel, Lark integrates with many other tools, which can be found in the Lark App directory.

You can connect apps like Dropbox, Jira, Asana, Zoom, GitHub, DocuSign, Zapier, Trello, Mockplus, and more.

Customer opinions

With a G2 rating of 4.6, Lark is highly regarded for its comprehensive features, ease of use, and excellent customer support. Lark also scores highly on the Apple App Store with a 4.9 rating.

Here are some reviews left by users:

“The user-friendly interface of Lark is one of its best qualities. The software is very easy to use, so team members who are not tech-savvy or tech-savvy can rapidly adapt. Our workspace is kept clutter-free because of the neat and well-thought-out arrangement, which helps us concentrate on our job without interruptions.”

Pricing

Lark offers a free tier for up to 50 users, making it an accessible option for small teams. Paid tiers start at $12 per user for the Pro tier, with custom pricing available for enterprise customers, providing scalability for businesses of all sizes.

2. Google Sheets - Best for Google Drive users

Google Sheets allows users to create, edit, and share spreadsheets online, with real-time collaboration features and cloud-based access.


Screenshot of Google Sheets

Image Source


Its integration with Google Drive ensures that users can access their spreadsheets from any device, anywhere, as long as there's an internet connection.

Key features

  • Real-time collaboration: Multiple users can work on the same spreadsheet simultaneously.

  • Compatibility: Easily import and export Excel files, ensuring smooth platform transitions.

  • Built-in add-ons and scripts: Create further functionality with scripts and add-ons directly within the Sheets interface.

  • Automatic saving: Changes are saved instantly to Google Drive, eliminating the risk of data loss.

Use cases

Google Sheets is a common replacement for Excel, as Google offers it free for individual users. However, this means it prioritizes a lightweight interface and lacks advanced functionality like functions, macros, and graph tools.

As it’s free for single users, it’s good for tasks like personal budgeting and project management for entrepreneurs. Its real-time collaboration feature also makes it a good choice for teams working on joint projects, allowing for instant updates and communication within the spreadsheet.

Sheets vs. Excel

Excel has been a flagship Microsoft product since the 80s, and Google Sheets emerged as a strong competitor in 2006. Sheets has real-time collaboration and ease of use benefits, particularly for users familiar with the Google ecosystem.

However, it may lack some of Excel's more advanced analytical tools and customization options. Google Sheets is a great choice for users who prioritize collaboration over complex functionality, especially its free individual version.

Integrations

Google Sheets integrates with other Google Workspace tools like Docs, Slides, and Forms and third-party applications through Google’s Workspace Marketplace.

Customer opinions

As part of Google Workplace, Google Sheets scores a 4.6 rating on G2. Its ease of use and team collaboration features lead to consumer praise. The most common complaints surround its lack of advanced features found in competitors, and its per-user pricing model can quickly become expensive.

Here’s a review left on G2 about Google Workspace:

“Customization options might seem limited compared to competitors, specially the spreadsheets and presentations. Some users may find the interface overly simplified, lacking advanced features.”

Pricing

Google Sheets is free as part of Google Drive's suite of productivity tools, with no cost for personal use. For businesses, it is included in the Google Workspace subscription, which starts at $6 per user per month, offering Sheets and access to the entire range of Google's productivity and collaboration tools.

3. Equals - Best for SQL editing

Equals is one of the newest apps on the spreadsheet block. It's designed to bring the traditional spreadsheet into the modern data-driven world, blending the familiarity of a spreadsheet interface with the power of SQL editing.


Screenshot of Equals spreadsheet

Image Source


Key features

  • SQL integration: Directly write and execute SQL queries within your spreadsheets.

  • Real-time collaboration: Like Google Sheets, Equals allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously.

  • Advanced data analysis: Utilize SQL queries for advanced data analysis and manipulation without leaving the spreadsheet.

  • Data import: Easily import data from various databases and cloud services for real-time data analysis.

Use cases

Equals is particularly suited for data analysts, financial analysts, and developers who require the ability to perform complex data manipulations and analyses. It's ideal for creating dynamic reports, analyzing large datasets, and automating data workflows.

Equals vs. Excel

Equals distinguishes itself from Excel with its SQL editing capabilities. This feature allows users to leverage the full power of SQL within a spreadsheet, offering a more efficient and powerful way to handle data analysis and manipulation. For users who require advanced data analysis capabilities beyond what Excel formulas and functions can offer, Equals provides a leading alternative.

Integrations

Equals includes many integrations with popular databases and cloud services, including PostgreSQL, MySQL, Google BigQuery, and Snowflake.

Customer opinions

Equals has received a 4.7 rating on G2. It’s not as heavily reviewed as its competitors, as it’s a new product. Users praise Equals for its modern approach to spreadsheets but have noted a lack of features some would like to see implemented.

Here’s what the reviewers are saying:

“Equals is built like a spreadsheet, its as easy to use as Excel or Sheets but made for the way businesses work today. You can easily connect multiple data sources and automate reports/dashboards to be sent to executive steams, stakeholders etc.”

Pricing

Equals costs $39 per month per seat. This unlocks full access to the tool with unlimited workbooks. Users can add connectors like MySQL, BigQuery, and Xero for an additional monthly cost per connector. Prices start at $99 per connector.

4. OpenOffice Calc - Best for free users

Calc is part of the Apache OpenOffice suite, and it offers a wide range of features that cater to basic and advanced spreadsheet users. It's designed to be an accessible, open-source tool that provides a familiar spreadsheet environment without the associated costs of premium software.


Screenshot of OpenOffice Calc spreadsheet

Image Source


Key features

  • Formula and function library: Calc comes equipped with a wide array of built-in formulas and functions, rivaling those found in Excel.

  • Pivot tables and DataPilot: These features allow users to easily summarize, analyze, and present large datasets, similar to Excel's pivot tables.

  • Macros and scripting: For advanced users, Calc supports the creation of macros and scripts to automate repetitive tasks and customize functionality.

Use cases

OpenOffice Calc is versatile enough to serve most users, from individuals managing personal finances to businesses analyzing sales data. Educators can use Calc to grade and track student performance, while researchers might find its data analysis capabilities useful for their projects. Small businesses can benefit from its budgeting and financial forecasting tools without incurring additional software costs.

OpenOffice Calc vs. Excel

Calc provides enough features to handle complex spreadsheet tasks, though it may lack some of the more advanced analytics and visualization tools available in the latest versions of Excel.

Integrations

As an open-source platform, OpenOffice Calc integrates well with other OpenOffice suite applications, such as Writer and Impress. However, its integration with external applications and cloud services is not as extensive as Excel, which may be a consideration for users requiring specific workflow integrations.

Customer opinions

Calc, as part of OpenOffice, achieves a 4.3 rating on G2. Most of Calc's commendations are for its no-cost solution and capability to rival products like Excel. Users complain about feature availability compared to premium tools.

Here’s what people are saying about Calc:

“What I like most about openoffice is that it is very practical, and similar to microsoft office, it is easy to learn, it fulfills its purpose of replacing the premium office for free, it has almost the same characteristics, its spreadsheet performs very well.”

Pricing

OpenOffice Calc is completely free to download and use. There are no hidden costs, subscription fees, or premium versions. OpenOffice Calc is an excellent choice for a powerful, free tool.

As OpenOffice Calc is open-source, there’s no customer support to refer to if you need help. Support is community-driven, which means it may take a while to get the answers you need.

With Lark, everyone can access our customer support team, including users on our free tier. Technical support is on hand five days a week to help troubleshoot any issues you may have.

5. Numbers - Best for Apple Users

Numbers is Apple's answer to Microsoft Excel. It's designed with the elegance and simplicity characteristic of Apple products. Tailored for Mac and iOS users, Numbers offers a clean interface and integration with other Apple applications and devices.


Screenshot of Numbers

Image Source


Key features

  • Interactive charts and tables: Numbers allows users to create beautiful charts and tables that can be easily modified and updated, making data visualization a breeze.

  • Templates: A wide array of professionally designed templates gives users a head start on creating spreadsheets for various purposes, from personal budgeting to business reporting.

  • iCloud integration: Numbers is fully integrated with iCloud, automatically updating all documents across all devices.

Use cases

Numbers is particularly well-suited for users who prioritize design and presentation in their spreadsheets. It's ideal for small businesses, educators, and individuals who need to create visually appealing reports, budgets, and plans.

Numbers vs. Excel

Numbers offers a more visually appealing interface, making creating and presenting data compellingly easier. It’s the top choice for Apple users who value aesthetics and simplicity, though power users may still prefer Excel or a different alternative for complex data analysis tasks.

Integrations

Numbers integrates with other Apple applications, such as Pages and Keynote, allowing for easy sharing and editing across the iWork suite. It also supports importing and exporting Excel files, although compatibility issues may arise with more complex Excel functions and formatting.

Customer opinions

Numbers has achieved a 4.2 rating on G2. People enjoy using Numbers for its simple and user-friendly interface. They also appreciate the built-in templates that help save time when getting started.

This is what G2 users have to say about Numbers:

“Definitely not as powerful as Excel with things like Pivot Tables. The form is mainly convenient on mobile, on Mac it might seem far too basic. The spreadsheet is still not as convenient to fill with very few shortcuts.”

Pricing

Numbers is free for all Mac and iOS users, making it an accessible option for anyone within the Apple ecosystem. The software can also be used on PCs through iWork for iCloud.

6. Airtable - Best for database visualization

Airtable allows users to organize work, projects, and ideas in a visually appealing and highly customizable manner. Unlike conventional spreadsheets, Airtable enables users to create links between datasets, offering a more dynamic way to manage and visualize information.

Key features


Screenshot of Airtable

Image Source


  • Customizable views: Airtable offers various views, including Grid, Calendar, Kanban, Gallery, and Form views, allowing users to visualize their data in the most appropriate way for their needs.

  • Rich field types: Beyond standard text and number fields, Airtable supports checkboxes, dropdowns, attachments, and links to records in other tables, enhancing the depth of data capture and organization.

  • Blocks: Airtable's blocks (now called "Apps") provide additional functionalities like Gantt charts, pivot tables, and custom block development for tailored needs.

Use cases

Airtable's flexibility suits various applications, from content and project planning to event organization and customer relationship management (CRM). Its ability to handle complex data relationships and present them in an accessible manner also makes it ideal for inventory tracking and product planning.

Airtable vs. Excel

Airtable's approach to data as interconnected records rather than rows and columns allows for a more intuitive setup for database-like applications. For users needing advanced database features with the ease of a spreadsheet, Airtable is the better choice.

Integrations

Airtable, through its API and services like Zapier, allows users to connect with over 1000 web services, including Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Salesforce, automating workflows and data exchange.

Customer opinions

Airtable achieves a G2 rating of 4.6. Many users find Airtable easy to use and enjoy the flexibility and customization options. However, it’s been found to require an initial learning curve and is expensive compared to other pieces of software.

Here’s what users think:

“There is room for development in the forms part to make them more configurable in their design; if this were the case, I would be more inclined to embed an Airtable form on a website. It may be difficult to get everyone on the same page about how to use the systems Airtable provides, so additional documentation to assist optimize the tools available would be nice.”

Pricing

Airtable offers a free tier with limited features, suitable for individuals and small teams just getting started. Paid plans start at $20 per user per month (billed annually) for the Team plan. For larger teams, the Business plan is $450 per user per month.

7. Zoho Sheet - Best for automations

Zoho Sheet is a cloud-based spreadsheet application that forms part of the Zoho Office Suite. It stands out particularly for its automation capabilities, allowing users to streamline their workflows and reduce manual tasks.


Screenshot of Zoho Sheet

Image Source


Key features

Smart data cleaning: Zoho Sheet can automatically detect and suggest corrections for duplicates, inconsistencies, and data anomalies.

Built-in AI assistant: Zia, Zoho's AI assistant, helps users quickly create charts, pivot tables, and gain insights from their data.

Extensive formula library: With support for over 350 functions and formulas, Zoho Sheet caters to a wide range of data analysis needs.

Use cases

Zoho Sheet can be used across various fields, from managing financial records and analyzing sales data to planning events and tracking inventory. Its automation features make it particularly useful for businesses looking to optimize their operations, reduce errors, and make data-driven decisions efficiently.

Zoho Sheet vs. Excel

Zoho Sheet's cloud-native approach ensures that users can access their spreadsheets from anywhere, collaborate in real time, and use automated data cleaning and analysis tools.

Integrations

Zoho Sheet has standard integration with other Zoho apps, such as Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects, and Zoho Books, creating a unified platform for managing business operations.

Customer opinions

Zoho Sheet scores a 4.4 rating on G2. The most praised feature of Zoho Sheet is its automation capabilities, helping individuals and teams use macros to finish complex tasks. Loading times become a common issue when working with large spreadsheets.

Here’s what Zoho Sheet users are really saying:

“It is a great spreadsheet tool to work with, especially with teams in real-time. Sharing files with the team and keeping everything updated has been very easy with the ZOHO sheet. I use it daily to find leads and their info.”

Pricing

Zoho Sheet is available for free with basic features. For more advanced features and integrations, it is included in the Zoho Workplace bundle, which starts at $3 per user per month (billed annually) for the Standard plan and goes up to $6 for the Professional plan.

Conclusion

Excel faces real competition in the spreadsheet game. It’s expensive, not user-friendly, and not optimized for collaboration. These are the features modern businesses need, so it’s time to start looking elsewhere.

Free tools might be appealing for their cost-effectiveness, but they often fail to provide the advanced features that make a real difference.

It’s Lark you need to consider for your spreadsheet and collaborative needs. It’s specifically designed for teams that prioritize real-time collaboration, automation, and an intuitive user experience. Lark isn’t just a spreadsheet application; it’s a comprehensive suite that integrates Docs, Minutes, Meetings, Emails, and more, facilitating a seamless workflow across your organization.

Why settle for less when you can take your team's productivity and collaborative efforts to the next level?

Lark is free to try for up to 50 users, giving you ample opportunity to explore its capabilities and determine the best fit for your needs. Experience the difference and consider a custom demo to see how Lark can transform your daily operations.

Interested in Lark?

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