Numbers vs Excel features?

I was working on a spreadsheet that needed drop down menus. Since I use Excel at work, for home projects I typically try to use Numbers until I get blocked by a missing feature.
Apparently a drop down or pop up menu in Numbers can’t get its values from a column in a table, they have to be typed into the pop up menu definition.
I thought it would be useful for people to share any other similar feature disparities and workarounds.
What I like about Numbers is the right-sized tables, and multiple tables on a page. Named ranges are not possible but you can access a range using its column name.

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Main “disparity” for me is that Numbers is pleasant to use but Excel is required by my clients.


That is not totally correct. While you can’t use values from another column, you can have it automatically create drop down items from the current column, which I do all of the time.

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Interesting - but is that still a one- time operation? If you add a new item to the source column, does it get added to the pop-up list?

It doesn’t get added automatically. However you can select the column again and re-do the process. Not as convenient as what Excel or Google Sheets offers, but even then new items need to be manually added to the drop down table.


Thanks! Re-doing the pop-up contents wouldn’t be a big issue for this particular project.

Numbers has a lower row limit. I would get truncated CSV when working with Numbers with some large documents.

Here are the latest max parameters from July 2020.

" Create, edit, and view spreadsheets with tables that contain up to 1,000,000 rows and 1,000 columns.Jul 9, 2020"

I have Numbers spreadsheets up to 100K rows, 10-20 columns and it works OK. The problem with Excel is it sucks on Mac.

Quite often I try and do something simple and then find myself spending 30+ minutes trying to figure out why it’s not working.

Apple Numbers is definitely more limiting. However what it does, it does well without problems.

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I remember a time when pasting large amounts of text into Windows Excel cells, the text in the cells would get truncated, e.g. to 1024 characters. Very inconvenient if you are using Excel as a text database. This may be fixed now in Excel but I just read that Numbers has a 250 character per cell limit.

That is not correct. I don’t know what the limit is, but I just tried pasting 3000 words in a single cell, with no problem.

The only feature that really matters to me is the ability to share and collaborate, as I use it for work.

Last time I tried using Numbers the import failed with anything even modestly complex and export resulted in broken formulae and formatting. None of my colleagues use Numbers so it is not an option for me.

I also use Pivot Tables every day and lots of add-ins for analysing data.

I prefer some Numbers templates to the Excel equivalents, so have converted the ones I liked the most to Excel. I also did this for Keynote to use in PowerPoint.

Work = 100% Excel

For home stuff, if it is any serious data or I’m using it as a database, then it is LibreOffice.

For stuff I want mobile, the ability to share with the family or easily print, I go with Numbers.

Luckily I do not have the need for excessive spreadsheet features (or haven’t been convinced of otherwise lol). I mostly use a spreadsheet for keeping track of a large grade book that I pull down on Fridays, and since Numbers added XLOOKUP, it’s been amazingly easy. I used to think I had to collaborate a lot, but what I found was that I was send spreadsheets to look at, not to manipulate and send back. For other collaborative stuff (like in my teaching team), we jumped on Google Sheets together. Excel is amazing when used to it’s full potential, otherwise I think it just gets in the way sometimes.

It was updated since I last used either, that’s good.