Limitations of Google Spreadsheets

I’ve become a big fan of Google Spreadsheets over the past few months for a number of reasons. The primary being the ability to collaboratively work on a single spreadsheet simultaneously from more than one location. That’s a powerful feature that’s particularly valuable in data gathering situations.

But it has a few limitations that are worth noting as of this writing. Over time, I see no reason why they won’t get worked out, but they could be deal killers for you today depending on how you use spreadsheets.

1. No multi-column sort. Say you want to sort ascending by column C, then ascending by column D so D breaks the ties of column C. You can’t do that today. Only one-column sorting is supported.

2. Clipboard limitations. You can only copy 1000 cell’s worth of data at a time. So a 250 row x 9 column spreadsheet would take a minimum of 3 copy/pastes to move somewhere else (offline or to a different online spreadsheet). It copies the first 1000 cell’s worth of rows, so it’s easy to tell where it left off, but it’s still painful if you deal with spreadsheets of any weight.

3. Safari formatting. Spreadsheets works in Safari, but I’ve had some issues with cell focusing. For example, clicking into a cell will often focus my cursor in the cell above the one I wanted. It’s not the end of the world, but not as polished as I’d expect.

4. Limited menus. Spreadsheets supports a lot more commands than the limited menus would lead you to believe. If you have experience with other spreadsheets like Excel, try using the commands shortcuts from there to see if they’re supported. Fill-down is an example that comes to mind. Spreadsheets does it, but there is no menu option for it today.

What would you add to this list?

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