4 Free Spreadsheet Alternatives to Microsoft Excel

Google Spreadsheets; Excel alternatives; small business software

4 Free Excel Alternatives

Google Docs Spreadsheet

Calc, OpenOffice.org; Excel alternatives; small business software

You can save Google Docs spreadsheets online and download them to your local disk, and you can collaborate with others on them. If you have a fast Internet connection, then Google Docs Spreadsheet is a worthy alternative to using Excel.


OpenOffice.org is an open source office application, and it is available for a range of operating systems including Linux, Mac and Windows. This makes it attractive for a small business that uses a mix of operating systems. The program includes a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentations tool, as well as a drawing tool.

The spreadsheet component of OpenOffice.org is called Calc. Like Google Docs Spreadsheet, it provides most of the tools that you would need in a spreadsheet program including charts, DataPilot (the equivalent of PivotTables) and macros. OpenOffice.org is popular with organizations seeking quality small business software with built-in Microsoft compatibility but without the high price of licensing actual Microsoft products.

OpenOffice.org is a downloadable program that you install on your local computer, although there is a pocket version that you can load onto a Flash drive and take it with you.

Because Calc runs locally, you don’t need an Internet connection to access the spreadsheet. It supports up to 1,024 columns of data; it can save worksheets as .pdf files and Excel 2003 compatible formats; and it can open the newer .xlsx format files.

While charts in Calc don’t have the look of Excel’s, more sophisticated formatting options — including plotting charts using two axes — are available for them than for the other applications in this roundup.

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