If you have an Office 365 subscription, you have access to all the features that cloud versions of the Office apps offer. But does this mean that Microsoft Excel Online has all the features that Excel for PC has?
In this article, we will compare them side-by-side and show you which features you are missing when using Microsoft Excel Online.
Starting from the main menu, at first glance, it seems like the online Microsoft Excel menu is missing many buttons in the PC version of Excel.
Technically, that’s not true, it’s just that the online version uses more drop-down menus.
So what’s missing in Microsoft Excel Online? On the main menu, you will find that the online version is missing all of the following Excel desktop features.
- Percentage style and comma style from a group of numbers.
- Setting up new table format styles.
- Set up new cell format styles.
- Sheet protection.
- Cell lock.
- Filling rows or columns in any direction.
- All cleanup menus are missing (for cleaning formats, comments, etc.).
- Much of the Find and Select menu is missing (formulas, notes, constants, and more).
For the most part, when it comes to the main menu, you really don’t lose any of the core functionality that Excel for PC has. Almost all formatting (including conditional formatting) that you can do on the desktop version, you can also do in Excel online.
The Insert menu also looks pretty straightforward in the online version of Excel, but again, this is because most of the advanced features are hidden in submenus.
In the Insert menu, you will be missing out on the following Excel for PC features if you are using the online version of Excel.
- When creating a pivot table, it is not possible to use an external data source. and you cannot parse multiple tables at the same time.
- Can’t insert icons, 3D models or SmartArt.
- Charts and graph options are abruptly absent.
- No text box, WordArt, signature line, or objects.
- Menu without symbols.
The most significant difference in the Insert menu between the online version of Excel and the desktop version is by far the chart menu.
Microsoft Excel Online has a bunch of charts, but they are very simple. You will find 2D bar, line, pie, bar and area charts.
However, in Excel for PC, you get a huge collection of each of these chart types. These include 2D and 3D versions of most types of charts and graphs, tree maps and sunbursts, bar charts, scatter and bubble charts, and even 2D and 3D maps.
If you make a lot of complex charts in Excel, you will probably be very disappointed with the lack of options in Microsoft Excel Online.
List of formulas
If you choose the Formulas menu in Microsoft Excel for the web, expecting to see the many options in Excel for PC, you’re in for a real surprise.
In fact, the menu is almost completely empty. When you compare this to Excel for PC, it is shocking how lacking in functionality is.
You can see that the Formulas menu in Excel for PC is just filled with whole drop-down menus with all these formulas organized in submenus. The Ribbon also has Formula Auditing Groups and a Viewport.
The only feature that Excel Online has in this area is the ability to run formula calculations on a worksheet. Does this mean that formulas are missing in Microsoft Excel for the web? It’s my pleasure. You just need to approach them differently.
If you select the function icon next to the formula field, you will see a pop-up window where you can find one of the many functions Excel has to offer.
If you change the Select Category dropdown menu to All, you will see that almost all of the formula functions that you would expect to see in Excel are present. You just need to find them slightly differently than Excel for PC.
At first glance, itâ€™s clear that Microsoft Excel Online only has half of the functionality found in the desktop version of Excel. None of the hidden menus have any of these missing features.
Microsoft Excel for the web does not have the following Data menu features:
- You cannot â€œget dataâ€ from external sources such as text, the web, or database files.
- No additional filter options available.
- The data toolset is missing column text, flash fill, consolidation, and links.
- There are no forecast groups or charts to find on the Excel for PC ribbon at all.
Even without all of these features on the Data menu, it’s at least good that Microsoft Excel Online provides the ability to retrieve inventory and geographic data from the Internet.
If you are not interested in using Excel to get external data sources, then most of the features that are missing from the Data menu are not your concern.
In Excel for PC, the Browse menu is typically used for editing and spellchecking. If you’ve used this in the desktop version of Excel, then you are used to adding comments, notes, and even using the built-in thesaurus.
So which of these features are missing from the online version of Excel?
- No built-in thesaurus.
- Missing smart search statistics.
- Missing language translation tool.
- There is no Notes function, but you can convert notes to comments.
- Unable to protect workbook or sheet.
- No “drawing” editing function.
If you do a lot of editing (especially other people’s work) and you really need the drawing or note-taking functionality that Excel for desktop has, Microsoft Excel online will be very disappointing for you. This is especially true if you are using the thesaurus on the desktop version.
The View menu in Excel for desktop is packed with features. At this point, you might not be surprised to learn that many of these are missing from Microsoft Excel Online.
In fact, all you can do is create a private sheet view, open a new spreadsheet window, dock panels, or hide and show headers and gridlines.
All other features are missing, for example:
- page break, page layout and custom views.
- Hide the formula bar.
- Arrange, split, hide or switch windows.
In any case, most of these features are not relevant to an online application. For example, there is no way to create or run VBA macros in a browser based application. Most of these missing features shouldn’t affect your overall use of Microsoft Excel for the web.
Completely missing lists
While Microsoft Excel Online offers the basic menus that you find in Excel for PC, there are actually entire menus that are missing entirely.
These menus include:
- Draw: Use your mouse to draw lines or select areas.
- Page Layout: Apply themes, margins, orientation, print areas, and align or organize objects
- Timeline: Visual display of events in chronological order in a timeline – useful for this kind of thing like a project schedule.
- Developer: Add macros or VBA code to the spreadsheet.
In addition to this, there is no way to add any additional add-ins or menus in Microsoft Excel for the web because the File menu lacks the Options item, which you usually go to in Excel for PC to add it.
Again, this is not surprising for an online application. But this should be considered if you like to add a lot of additional functionality to Excel using add-ins or include some of the custom menus available in Excel for PC.
Considering all the basic functionality available in Microsoft Excel for the web versus everything that’s lacking when compared to the desktop version of Excel, the online version might not be able to handle it. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless.
If you usually only use Excel for its most common purposes, such as creating tables for calculations or organizing, you will find everything you need in Microsoft Excel on the web. If you need to use external sources or execute a lot of VBA code or macros, you are better off using Excel for PC.