Google Sheets vs Excel: Which One is Best For You?

Microsoft Excel has been the most popular spreadsheet program for over three decades regarding the systematic arrangement and display of various data. It is still the go-to spreadsheet program for billions of data enthusiasts. However, as an alternative, Google Sheets emerged with some unique features. In this article, we will make an in-depth Google Sheets vs Excel comparison.

If you are completely new to the spreadsheet world, it is easy to get confused about what may fulfill your needs. Excel is a top program with well-tested features and functions. On the other hand, Google Sheets comes as a cloud-based choice for spreadsheets. As things stand now, both Sheets and Excel bring something exclusive for users.

Our goal for this article is to include everything you possibly want to know about Google Sheets and MS Excel. By the time you reach the end, you will find out which spreadsheet program best suits your work.

Let’s start!

A Quick Overview of Sheets and Excel

Google Sheets and Excel may be spreadsheet programs, but they have unique appearances and come with noticeably different features. Before we get straight into a head-to-head comparison, we would like to discuss some important things about these two programs.

What is Google Sheets?

Google Sheets is a free online spreadsheet program by Google. It is a part of the Google Doc Editor package. Although it has been around since 2006 in different styles and names, it started getting noticed in early 2013.

Software and programs that allowed users to collaborate started gaining traction in the late 2000s. Google Sheets picked up that flow and never looked back. This availability of collaboration is undoubtedly one of its most attractive features.

Google Sheets has a simple interface and is easier to work with. For a new user of spreadsheets, it is more than enough. The tricky bits of this program are inside the menus. It may pose as both a blessing and a curse simultaneously.

The image below shows the picture of a new worksheet in Google Sheets. The marked area contains options and menus.

What is Google Sheets

For everyday work, Google Sheets offer adequate options. However, it gets a bit complicated when we are talking about advanced work. The comparison table in this article will give you a more distinct idea.

Regarding supporting various systems, Google Sheets has its own app, available for Android and Apple. But it does not have any desktop application or package.

What is Excel?

It is hard to find anyone who has not heard about Excel. It is the most-used spreadsheet program in the world. Since its initial release in 1987, it has led the data industry with its amazing features. Macros and VBA, Pivot Table, etc., turned Excel into the most definitive choice for many analysts.

Before Microsoft introduced its cloud service with Microsoft 365, Excel was a completely offline spreadsheet program. Even right now, Excel is available in many forms. You can buy an Office package for a lifetime (offline) or get a Microsoft 365 subscription (online, cloud-based) per your requirement.

In a standard Excel program, there are around 500 functions for you to work with. Microsoft 365 offers some more exclusive functions as well. The talk of almost half a thousand functions may seem intimidating. However, the availability of this huge number of functions has helped Excel become the one to beat in the spreadsheet game.

Any user can follow the interface of Excel. You can find a plethora of options inside each ribbon. The picture below shows the default interface of Excel. The area we have marked is called the Ribbon, which was introduced with Excel 2007. Earlier, it was about only drop-down menus and small icons.

What is Excel

MS Excel has been an industry flagship also due to its stability. It can handle datasets bigger than you can even imagine. Excel supports 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns of data. A simple multiplication of these two numbers tells you the exact number of cells Excel has: a whopping 17,179,869,184 cells!

In our comparison table, you will find more interesting features of Excel. Although the table will contain comparative information, it will also tell you about the programs we discuss in this article.

Google Sheets vs Excel: The Showdown

In this section, we will directly compare Google Sheets and Excel. We believe that it would be faster and easier to understand everything about these two programs through this table instead of individual, lengthy discussions.

We will compare the most defining 27 features of Google Sheets and Excel here. Depending on your type and level of work, you will get a clear picture of which program to use later on.

CategoryGoogle Sheets Excel
CostFreeOffice package: ~$150 (one-time payment)
Microsoft 365 Subscription: At least ~$5/month
Cloud Service Cloud-based Offline for Office package, cloud-based for Microsoft 365 Subscription
Security Strong cloud security Updated strong security
AvailabilityBrowser only, no desktop software package
Applications for Android and iOS
Desktop software packages for Windows and Mac
Free Android and iOS Applications
Customization Not available Highly customizable interface
Extremely limited shortcuts are available Shortcuts available for all the options
Storage Space 15GB Free Unlimited computer storage for desktop packages
UpdatesNo downloadable updates Frequent software and security updates (downloadable)
Auto-Saving Option Available for all Available for Microsoft 365 Subscriptions only
Collaboration Available for all through the browser and mobile applications Available for Microsoft 365 Subscriptions only
Data Visualization Limited features Advanced features
Formatting Data as TableNot available Available (makes adding and updating data easier)
Available Cells Just over 5 million cells Over 17 billion cells
Version Control Available for all Available for Microsoft 365 Subscriptions only
Handling Large Datasets Not capable Highly capable
Data Processing Power Slow Fast
Functions & Formulas Around 500 functions & formulas (with some Google Sheets-exclusive functions) Around 500 functions & formulas (with some Excel-exclusive functions)
Macros & VBA Not available (Apps Script is the Sheets alternative) Available
Pivot Tables Auto-Update Available Not available
Chart Auto-Update Not available Available
Flash Fill (CTRL E) Not available Available
Selecting Multiple Special Cells Not available Available (with the Go To Specials option)
Searchable Drop-Down List AvailableNot available
Importing Non-Table Data from Web Available (ImportXML function) Not available
Splitting Texts with Function Available (SPLIT function) Available only in Microsoft 365 Subscriptions (TEXTSPLIT function)
Translation with Function Available (with GOOGLETRANSLATE function) Not available
Cloud Service Google Drive (Free) OneDrive for Microsoft 365 Subscriptions only

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this penultimate section of the Google Sheets vs Excel article, we will answer some of the most asked questions. These answers will help you get some more ideas about Sheets and Excel.

Q: Are Google Sheets And Excel Compatible?

A: No, there are noticeable differences. Some features and functions like XLOOKUP in Excel or SPLIT in Google Sheets do not work in the other program.

Q: Will Google Sheets Open Excel Files?

A: Yes, Google Sheets will open the default Excel file format XLSX without a problem. However, some Excel functions and features may not work in Sheets. Power Pivot, Power Query, VBA, XLOOKUP, etc., are some of these features and functions.

Q: Can I Open Google Sheets In Excel?

A: Yes, you can. Google Sheets offers an option to download a worksheet in XLSX format. It is Excel’s default format. So, there should be no problem opening the downloaded XLSX file.

Q: Can I Convert Google Sheets To Excel?

A: Absolutely! Just go to the File menu in your Google Sheets worksheet. From there, click on Download and then click Microsoft Excel (.xlsx). That’s it!

Q: Can I Link Google Sheets To Excel?

A: Yes, you can. However, it is a complex procedure that needs to be discussed in a separate guide.

Q: Can Google Sheets Run Excel Macros?

A: No, it cannot. If any Excel file with Macros is imported into Google Sheets, the Excel Macros will need to be created again by using Apps Script inside Google Sheets.

Last Words

Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are excellent spreadsheet programs. Both offer unique features but with certain limitations. Subjecting to your needs and expertise, you can choose your preferred program. The comparison table in this article gives you a complete idea of what each program comes with.

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