What To Look For In Free Spreadsheet Software

Free spreadsheet software
There are many free spreadsheet software options out there – here’s what to keep an eye out for when making your choice.

There are plenty of free spreadsheet software options out there that will help you to create, edit, and manipulate data in a tabular format. Whether you’re trying to budget, create a holiday plan, schedule study sessions or do some good ol’ number crunching, having spreadsheet software can help you get the job done.

However, not everyone needs to (or wants to) spend too much on commercial solutions, so they’ll seek free spreadsheet software online that will fulfil their professional or personal needs. But, of course, if something is a free alternative, it might not be quite up to par with expectations. Here’s what you should expect from free spreadsheet software.

1. Compatibility with other spreadsheet file types

One of the main features that you should expect from your free spreadsheet is compatibility with major file formats, such as those you’d find from Microsoft, Apple, and other software suite apps. This means that you’ll be open open, edit, and save files without losing any formatting, formulas, or data.

This is especially important in a world where many organizations use Office Excel or Apple formats, and you don’t want to encounter any compatibility issues or errors when working with them. And of course, this works the other way round. If you’ve done some work on a free spreadsheet software platform, you’d expect to be able to send it to friends, partners or colleagues without any worries.

2. A clean and user-friendly interface

Another feature that you should expect from your free spreadsheet software is a clean and user-friendly interface that lets you navigate and use the product easily, without any clutter or confusion. There are many free solutions out there that might get the job done, but simple tasks are usually hidden behind a messy or confusing UI that is trying too hard to differentiate itself from the commercial solutions.

There’s a reason why corporate apps have things in a certain why, with years of experience and some of the best designers in the business having created them. That’s why it’s super important to make sure that your free spreadsheet software has that clean and familiar look, meaning that you won’t have to completely re-learn where everything is.


Being able to work without visual noise goes a long way to help your productivity


3. Regular updates in free alternatives

Free spreadsheet software may not be as regularly updated as commercial solutions, so do make sure to check when your choice was last updated, and if possible, how often it happens. By using a reputable free product, you’ll be able to take advantage of optimum performance, functionality, and security, as well as the latest features, bug fixes, and enhancements.

Companies that regularly update their free spreadsheet software are often more receptive to user feedback, so go ahead and choose one that seems to have an active and responsive customer service team who can help you with any technical issues, or even pass on feature requests.

4. Cross device and cross platform spreadsheets

Just like with file compatibility, your free spreadsheet software should work cross device and cross platform to make sure that you can access and edit your files on the go. For instance, some apps might not let you work across iPhones and Android devices, or Windows and Mac. When choosing your software, take a look at the features to make sure that you’ll be able to freely work across devices and platforms. Imagine spending all that time creating an awesome pivot table, only to find that no one can open it!

5. Is it part of a bundle?

Having spreadsheet software as part of a wider package comes with a bunch of benefits. Not only do you have software tools that are compatible with each other, it’s simply more convenient. But, which one should you get? Check out our in-depth article on the best Microsoft Office alternatives for info on the competition, and what you need to think about when making your choice.

6. Frequent sales and offers

Free spreadsheet software products often have premium options which open up more features for productivity such as  so when you choose the one you want to work with, its worth looking at how often the premium versions go on sale.
While the full-price might not be of interest to you, a half-price sale might just sweeten the deal. Keep an eye on the social media channels and website of your chosen free spreadsheet software for announcements, especially around black Friday, Christmas, and other major shopping events.
Keep your eyes open for premium upgrade deals for your free spreadsheet software


7. What are the best free spreadsheet alternatives to Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel has long been the undisputed king of spreadsheet software, offering users a great tool for data analysis, financial modeling, and various other spreadsheet tasks. It was a trailblazer for ease of use, with a clean interface and full set of features that makes it the go-to for both personal and professional uses. But, just like anything else, Excel isn’t perfect – especially when it comes to the cost. The good news is, with the information above, and the following list of free spreadsheet software options, you’ll always have a good choice.


OfficeSuite Sheets:

We’ve already looked at what elements make for great spreadsheet software, and no list wouldn’t be complete without OfficeSuite Sheets. With a strong focus on collaboration and compatibility, it really is one of the best choices you can make. Available for a whole range of devices and platforms, it enjoys frequent updates and fixes, making it an active choice for millions of spreadsheet users around the world. While it may not have all the features of Excel, it more than makes up for it thanks to it’s flexibility and freedom.


Google Sheets:

Google Sheets is another household name and is a cloud-based spreadsheet tool that has gained immense popularity for those who like seamless collaboration at all times. A great features is that users can edit spreadsheets offline and have changes automatically sync once they regain an internet connection, making it an excellent choice for teams of multiple people who are all working on the same project, even if at different times or in different places.


Zoho Sheet:

Zoho Sheet is part of the Zoho Office Suite and is known for having good automation capabilities. In other words, it allows users to automate repetitive tasks, create custom workflows, and integrate with other Zoho applications. This makes it an ideal choice for businesses looking to streamline their processes and improve efficiency through automation. However, this one has a steeper learning curve and you’ll need to spend a decent amount of time with it to get the most from the app.


Apache OpenOffice Calc:

Another free spreadsheet software that is well-known, is Apache OpenOffice Calc, which stands out for its high level of customization. This means that users can tailor the interface and functions to suit their specific needs, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a personalized spreadsheet experience. However, unlike some other free spreadsheet software apps, updates for this one are a little less frequent, and the overall functionality is also not on par.


LibreOffice Calc:

LibreOffice Calc, another open-source alternative, has an extensive set of features that can be considered as comparable to Microsoft Excel. It includes advanced functions for data analysis, charting, and formatting. It is generally seen as a good option for users who need a spreadsheet software to do their work, but without the heft price tag that can come with proprietary software. Another downside is that while this option certainly gets the job done, the user interface may take some getting used to, especially if you’re coming from Microsoft Excel.


WPS Office Spreadsheets:

WPS Office Spreadsheets is another mainstay for those looking for free spreadsheet software that offers most of what they need. This option comes with a friendly user interface and an easy-to-use design. In fact, the look and feel is very close to Excel, meaning that anyone making the jump to free spreadsheet software will find the transition to be easy. But, of course, the free version does come with limited advanced features.


Tablet work illustration
It’s important to make sure your option lets you work on different devices


8. Which one should you get?

The above are just a few of the main options you have for when it comes to free spreadsheet software. There are plenty of alternatives to Microsoft Excel to choose from, and like most things in life, your choice will depend on your individual needs. But, whether it’s collaboration, automation, customization, or feature-rich functionality, there’s a suitable alternative for every user.

We recommend trying out the different options to see which one is best suited for your needs – and because they are free, you don’t really have too much to lose. Just make sure that whatever you choose is properly supported with updates and features, and has a responsive customer service department on hand if you run into any problems.


9. Free spreadsheet software FAQ

What is free spreadsheet software?

Free spreadsheet software refers to spreadsheet applications that can be used without having to pay for them. They typically offer a range of functionalities that can be compared to paid version, but usually come with some drawbacks. However, they do often offer premium versions which can still be great alternatives.


Why use free spreadsheet software?

There are many reasons as to why someone might want to use free spreadsheet software. In most cases, it’s a great option for someone who just wants to do the basics without taking the financial commitment for something they may not need to use all that often. Small businesses and individuals are typical users, as well as students and educators.


What are the main features of free spreadsheet software?

This will of course depend on the product, but generally free spreadsheet software should include things such as data entry, formulas, basic editing, charts and more. However, such features can sometimes be considered as advanced and may only be access once a premium version is unlocked. However, any free spreadsheet software app should let you do the basics.


Can I use free spreadsheet software for business purposes?

This will depend on your needs as a business. If you’re a small business that doesn’t typically need heavy data analysis and just wants something for simple spreadsheet work, a free option would probably be enough. But, if you’re a larger enterprise with complex needs, free versions may not have the advanced features that heavy data manipulation needs.


Are free spreadsheet software applications compatible with Microsoft Excel files?

Many free spreadsheet software apps may be compatible with Microsoft Excel files, but this is something you’ll need to check before downloading. OfficeSuite Sheets is a great example of free spreadsheet software that is compatible with Microsoft Excel – and a bunch of other formats too, including iWork, and all other popular formats as well.


Can I collaborate with others using free spreadsheet software

Collaboration features are often available in free spreadsheet software, where users can share documents, provide access to collaborators, and work on the same spreadsheet simultaneously. However, the extent of collaboration features may vary among different tools, so if this feature is important to you, look closely at your chosen product before downloading.


Future tech trends
Being able to collaborate with others may be important for some spreadsheet users


How secure is my data when using free spreadsheet software?

Security measures may vary among different free spreadsheet software. Cloud-based options often have security measures in place, but users should be cautious when sharing sensitive information and consider additional security measures if needed. When in doubt, talk to the support team of your chosen solution to get more information about how their software keeps your data secure.


Can I use free spreadsheet software offline?

Many free spreadsheet software options let users work offline, where they can access and edit their work without an internet connection. However, any options that have collaboration features will require an internet connection to work to their full potential.


How do I choose the right free spreadsheet software?

This can be somewhat subjective depending on what you need from your software solution. We recommend checking out the different options on their websites to see what they offer, and download the one that seems best for you. There’s nothing to lose, so if it doesn’t do what you need, simply try another option.


Do free options offer customer support?

The level of customer support for free spreadsheet software suites may vary, or be more limited to premium options. But, there are typically many customer forums online where people can share their experience or issues and can typically find the answer they need. But, with solutions like OfficeSuite sheets, you can receive good customer support whenever you need it.


Can I switch from a free spreadsheet software to a paid one later?

Most free apps offer premium versions, so you can easily upgrade your package if needed. You’ll also most likely get a variety of options, such as a personal product, one for multiple users, family, or even for businesses that need dozens of people working on them.


Are free options frequently updated?

In general, most free spreadsheet software suites are updated from time to time, with bug fixes or even new features. But, some will have more support than others, so do take a look at when your choice was last updated.


Should I worry about hidden costs?

In most cases, free spreadsheet software suites are 100% free and won’t try to charge you for things unless you absolutely confirm that you’re happy to do so. That being said, you should always be cautious when downloading software from untrusted sources and ensure they are getting the official, legitimate version to avoid potential security risks.


Can I use free spreadsheet software on mobile devices?

The level of compatibility will depend on the software package you go with, but most of the popular ones will work cross-device. For isntance, OfficeSuite can be used on Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS, as well as on tablets, phones, laptops and desktop computers. When choosing your software, it’s always best to go for one that can be used on multiple devices so that you have the freedom to work when and where it suits you best.


10. OfficeSuite free spreadsheet software

There are many free alternatives to choose from, but not all will offer the above in one place. OfficeSuite has been around for years and has created a free spreadsheet software solution with their Sheets app, which is part of a handy office pack that has the other usual productivity apps you’d need in your daily or working life. As one of the most widely-used Excel alternatives , with regular updates, offers, and a carefully crafted user experience, it’s one of the best options out there for those looking for an affordable alternative. Go ahead and find out more about OfficeSuite Sheets, and how it can be your go to free spreadsheet software support.

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