• Tips for creating spreadsheets using iWork Numbers
  • Vital Mac Numbers shortcuts and power tricks
  • Import and export cleanly between Apple Numbers and Microsoft Excel

Apple Numbers is a powerful iWork spreadsheet app for Mac OS X, iOS and now even the Safari web browser through iCloud. Like all Apple software Numbers 3 makes it easy to create really impressive spreadsheets and its far more efficient to use than rivals like Excel.

It’s one of the more complicated apps to get your head around though. These iWork Numbers tips will help you use Apple Numbers with confidence.


Apple Numbers Tips

Learn to use Numbers’ Templates

Take time to click on File > New and open a new template today. Even if it’s not one you've used before (actually: especially one you’ve not used before). The new range of templates in Mac OS X Numbers is particularly wide ranging: Calendar, Retirement Savings and Running Log (for example) all offer really different examples of what iWork Numbers is capable of.

By-and-large we’d also advise starting with a template whenever possible, especially if you're a newcomer to Numbers because it usually helps you on your way.


Pages for Mac review

Numbers for Mac review

Keynote for Mac review

Apple Numbers Templates

Learn your formulas and functions

One of the key differences between Numbers and, say, Pages, is that it allows you to perform formulas and functions on the data in your cells. It’s pretty vital that you take the time to figure out how to create functions in Numbers.

Learning how to create iWork Functions can be tricky at first (especially any beyond the usually multiple, add, or subtract from this cell type functions). Take time out to view the Functions Inspector. Click on any cell and enter a ‘=’ to signify that a function is coming and take time to browse the Functions inspector on the right. This will give you a heads-up of what sort of things you can do.

Functions like HLOOKUP and VLOOKUP are particularly worth learning for power users, but also Date and Time, Duration and Logical & Info sections are all great for power users. You’ll see information on modifiers and examples in the Functions Inspector as you click on items.

Apple offers more information on how to use Functions on its Support Website

Numbers Functions Browser

Check out Charting Basics

Click on File > New and choose the Charting Basics template. This template isn’t designed to help you create a document, but is designed to introduce you to all the different types of charts you can create using Numbers.

In particular it can help you get to grips with the new Interactive Charts that are present in Numbers 3.

Turn On Tips

If you’re new to Numbers make sure you tap on the yellow Tips icon in the top-right of the screen. It looks like a question mark.

With this clicked on yellow notes appear on the screen next to important menu items. This enables you to get an overview of what different elements do. And as you click on different items the help bubbles adapt to what you’re looking at. It’s the best way to figure out what all the different interface elements do.

Numbers in the Cloud

Be sure to check out www.icloud.com becuase Apple now offers online versions of all its different apps. It’s best to use the Safari browser incidentally, although it works fine in the latest version of Chrome and Opera too.

There are a few (but not many) limitations to using iWork in the cloud. One key one is that you cannot create charts using the online version of Numbers. But compared to other web apps is shows just how advances Apple Numbers is.

Quickly resize tables in Numbers

You can quickly resize tables in Numbers using the drag handles at the bottom right. This enables you to add columns and rows quickly.

Tips for Number to Play nicely with Excel

If you’re going to use Numbers alongside Excel (with the Import and Export function) we advise you to stick to using just one table per sheet. Excel doesn’t really support multiple tables on a sheet, and spreads tables across different sheets. You should also avoid graphically heavy objects and some of the more advanced charts in both programs.

Numbers 3: quickly insert rows and columns shortcuts

This tip alone is so useful we’ve taken it out of the usual list of shortcuts and given it its own space. When editing a table you can quickly add rows and columns into the table with these shortcuts.

  • Add a row above the selected cells: Option–Up Arrow
  • Add a row below the selected cells: Option–Down Arrow
  • Add a column to the right of the selected cells: Option–Right Arrow
  • Add a column to the left of the selected cells: Option-Left-Arrow

Apple Numbers Shortcuts

Learning how to use these shortcuts will make your Numbers experience a whole lot better. There are hundred of Numbers shortcuts, and mastering them will make you a spreadsheet wizard. This is our highlighted list of ones to start with, but click here for the complete list of Apple Shortcuts.

Read more iWork tutorials on Pages, Numbers and Keynote in our iWork topic zone. Including: