Have you ever been invited into a Google Sheet to view or analyze data only to then right-click a column or row and sort it from A to Z for easier viewing and realize that you’ve completely screwed up the organization of that data for everyone in the team? You may have even caused the colorful, stand-out header that was created with care to jump to the middle of the document instead of staying in place (You can solve that by freezing the first row!)
I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit that I’ve been that guy before, and it’s primarily because I failed computer class in high school due to my hatred for spreadsheets. Between formulas and all of the numbers, this literature fiend was out of his depth. I eventually came to love spreadsheets though – even going so far as to center many aspects of my life around them, and I even play with them for fun because I’m crazy.
That’s why I’m going to show you how to use something very special in Google Sheets called “Filter views”. This little trick will help you analyze data in a spreadsheet without screwing it up for everyone else! You see, creating a filtered view of a data set means that you’ll be changing how it looks only to you. It’s a custom and instanced view that does not affect any other collaborators, and it’s your saving grace when things get hairy and all of those cells become too difficult to look at straight on.
Not only that, but you can share Filter views with others via a simple URL, allowing them to see through your eyes temporarily! You can have multiple filters saved for quick access, and rapid sorting, and each one can have its own rule set for how it alters your sheet.
Pro Tip: Views are personal, and they’re temporary, and they shouldn’t be confused with regular filters which filter data for everyone. To create a regular filter that affects all collaborators, simply select a range of cells and click “Data” and then “Create a filter”. Using the filter icon at the top of the range will allow you to manipulate it after the fact.
So, how do you create your own Filter views in Google Sheets? That’s quite easy, honestly, but before now, you’ve probably passed up the option under the “Data” tab at the top of the menu. Clicking there will show you “Filter views“, and then clicking “Create new filter view” will do exactly that.
There you have it – your first filter view! You may get this awesome, green pop-up tooltip that tells you the basics, but you can click the “Dismiss” button and continue on to the “Name:” section at the top of the dark grey bar. Here, you’ll rename your first filter view to something relevant to the data set in the sheet.
Don’t forget: Editing data while in a filter view changes it for everyone, so don’t be fooled! The view may be personal and temporary, but any edits you perform are very real.
To use this new filter view, just click a drop-down list in a column header and select the data you want to include in the filter. All changes are saved the moment you perform them, and they will be called back up in the future when and if you use the same filter view from the menu.
After you’ve selected your data range or typed it in the “Range:” box to the right of the filter’s name, you’ll click “OK”. You can repeat this process for each column that you wish to filter.
That’s really all there is to it! I would go further into depth on how to use your filter views (which can always be recalled from the “Data” tab, but the problem with that is the best part – there is too much depth. No, seriously – you can filter the data, sort it, and do any other organization method so long as you don’t perform edits and it will be entirely personal to you. Enjoy!
I just want the steps!
1. Open a new or existing Google Sheet and make sure it has some data
2. Click “Data”, then “Filter views” and lastly “Create new filter view”
3. Enter a Filter view title into the “Name:” box
4. Enter a range into the “Range:” box or…
5. Click a column header’s drop-down and select data you want to filter
6. Click “OK”
7. Rinse and repeat for each column that needs to be filtered
8. Access your filters any time via the “Data” tab at the top of the sheet