Excel Functions vs. Apple Numbers: A Comprehensive Comparison

When it comes to spreadsheets, Microsoft Excel and Apple Numbers are two of the most popular options out there. Each one has its unique set of functions and features that make them suitable for different tasks and users. This article will provide a comprehensive comparison of Excel functions versus Apple Numbers. It will guide you through a step-by-step tutorial on how to use each program, outline the pros and cons of each, and offer additional information to help you decide which spreadsheet application is right for you.

After you complete the action of comparing Excel functions and Apple Numbers, you’ll have a clearer understanding of which program better suits your needs. You’ll be able to make an informed decision on which one to use for your specific tasks, whether it’s for personal use or professional purposes.


Spreadsheets are the Swiss Army knives of the software world. They’re essential for everything from budgeting in your personal life to analyzing complex data in business settings. And when it comes to spreadsheet software, two big names dominate the conversation: Microsoft Excel and Apple Numbers. But which one reigns supreme?

For many, Excel is the gold standard. It’s been around since the ’80s and has become synonymous with spreadsheet software. It’s powerful, versatile, and has a vast array of functions. But Apple Numbers, part of the iWork suite, has been gaining traction, especially among Mac users. It’s known for its simplicity and ease of use, making it a strong contender for those who don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with Excel.

Why is this comparison important, you ask? Well, whether you’re a student crunching numbers for a project, a small business owner keeping track of expenses, or a data analyst looking for advanced functions, choosing the right tool can make your life a whole lot easier. And let’s not forget about compatibility and ease of sharing – crucial factors in today’s connected world.

So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of Excel functions versus Apple Numbers, shall we? We’ll explore the depths of these spreadsheet titans and help you figure out which one is the best fit for you.

Excel Functions vs. Apple Numbers Tutorial

Before we start comparing, let’s walk through the basic functions you’d typically use in both Excel and Apple Numbers.

Step 1: Create a new spreadsheet

To create a new spreadsheet in Excel, open the program and select “New” from the File menu. In Numbers, you launch the app and choose “New Document.”

Creating a new spreadsheet is the first step in both programs. In Excel, you’re greeted with a variety of templates to choose from, while Numbers offers a more visual approach with its template gallery.

Step 2: Input data

Enter your data into the cells by clicking on them and typing in Excel. In Numbers, the process is similar – click on a cell and start typing.

Data entry is straightforward in both apps. Excel might feel more familiar to many due to its widespread use, but Numbers has a clean, gridless approach that some may find more appealing.

Step 3: Use basic functions

For basic functions like SUM or AVERAGE in Excel, you can type them directly into a cell or use the functions menu. In Numbers, you use the “Insert” menu to add functions.

Both programs offer a range of basic functions, but Excel has a more extensive library and more advanced options available. Numbers keeps it simple, which can be a plus for basic spreadsheet tasks.


Wider Range of FunctionsExcel is known for its robust functionality. It can handle complex calculations, data analysis, and much more.
CompatibilityExcel is the industry standard, so files are widely accepted and easily shareable across different platforms and devices.
Advanced Data Analysis ToolsExcel has powerful tools like PivotTables, Power Query, and Power BI integration for in-depth data analysis.

Excel’s wide range of functions is a significant advantage for those who need more than just the basics. Its compatibility ensures you can share files with just about anyone, and advanced data analysis tools are invaluable for professionals.


ComplexityExcel’s vast array of features can be overwhelming for beginners and occasional users.
CostExcel is part of the Microsoft Office suite, which requires a subscription or one-time purchase.
System Resource UsageExcel can be a resource hog, especially with large files or complex operations, which can slow down your system.

Excel’s complexity can be a double-edged sword, providing powerful functions but also a steep learning curve. The cost might be prohibitive for some, and heavy system resource usage is something to consider if you’re running on older hardware.

Additional Information

When considering Excel functions versus Apple Numbers, it’s essential to think about your specific needs. If you’re working with big data sets, need advanced analytical tools, or require compatibility with other Microsoft Office applications, Excel is likely the better choice. However, if you prefer a more user-friendly interface, are working on a Mac, and don’t need all the advanced features, Apple Numbers might be the way to go.

One key difference to note is that while Excel uses a traditional row-and-column grid layout, Numbers uses a free-form canvas approach. This means you can place tables anywhere on the canvas in Numbers, giving you more flexibility in terms of layout and design. Excel, on the other hand, follows a more rigid structure, which can be advantageous for consistency and data organization.

Another point to consider is collaboration. Excel has come a long way with its collaboration features, especially with the online version of Office 365. Numbers also offers collaboration through iCloud, but it might not be as seamless if you’re working with non-Mac users.


  1. Create a new spreadsheet
  2. Input data
  3. Use basic functions

The above steps give you a basic overview of how to get started with both Excel and Apple Numbers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I open Excel files in Apple Numbers?

Yes, you can open Excel files in Numbers. However, you may lose some formatting or functionality in the transition.

Is Apple Numbers free?

Numbers is free for Mac users and comes pre-installed on new Macs. If you’re using an older Mac, you can download it for free from the Mac App Store.

Can I use Excel on a Mac?

Yes, Excel is available for Mac as part of the Microsoft Office suite.

Are there any alternatives to Excel and Numbers?

Yes, there are alternatives like Google Sheets, which is free and web-based, offering real-time collaboration.

Which program should I choose if I’m new to spreadsheets?

If you’re new to spreadsheets, Apple Numbers might be more approachable due to its simplicity and intuitive interface.


In the showdown between Excel functions and Apple Numbers, there’s no clear-cut winner. It all boils down to your specific needs, preferences, and the system you’re using. Excel is the powerhouse, packed with features and functions that cater to a wide range of professional demands. On the other hand, Apple Numbers offers a more streamlined, user-friendly experience that integrates seamlessly with the Mac ecosystem.

Choosing the right spreadsheet software is crucial as it can significantly impact your productivity and efficiency. So, take the time to evaluate your requirements, and don’t be afraid to try both to see which one feels right. Whether you go with the tried-and-tested Excel or the sleek and straightforward Numbers, rest assured that you’re working with some of the best spreadsheet tools available today.

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