Tableau Features: How did I not know about this before?

As many of us know, Tableau is a powerful tool. There are nearly countless things it enables you to create, and this very flexibility is a major reason why so many people love the tool. What comes along with that, is a very long list of feature capabilities, and as Tableau keeps growing, the list keeps getting longer. Which is a great thing and what we want as users of Tableau! But it creates a (fun) challenge for Tableau creators and users to remember and use all the features, which it has to offer. We can’t know it all, can we?

There’s always something new to learn. And sometimes a new discovery sends our heads swirling, wondering, “How did I not know about this before?!”

Inspired by this tweet by Jacqui Moore, and its subsequent thread, I wanted to share 5 Tableau features that, when I learned them, I wish I knew about them sooner. They come from what I learned in Tableau’s most recent conference, Jacqui’s tweet thread, and from my own experience.

1. Connecting to another workbook’s data source

If you need to reuse data sources or simply can’t find the original data source you need, you can connect to another workbook’s data source that has the one you need.

Add new data source > click To a File, and select More > choose the Tableau workbook

Figure 1 - Tableau Features How did I not know about this before- SpringML

A menu will pop-up and you can choose the data source that you need

2. Describe Sheet (Ctrl/Cmd + E)

This is a great way to get a quick idea of what’s going on in a sheet, and it’s especially useful if you’re inheriting the workbook from someone else. When a sheet is a complex build, hitting Ctrl + E (Cmd +E for Mac) should save you some time in getting an understanding of what the sheet is trying to accomplish.

Figure 3 - Tableau Features How did I not know about this before- SpringML

3. Show Summary Card

Using the Summary Card helps considerably when you’re doing analysis on a visualization. Along with showing you the Count, Sum, Average, Median, etc. of the data, it also changes as you select marks in the visualization.

Right click under the Marks card > Select Summary

Figure 4 - Tableau Features How did I not know about this before- SpringML
Figure 5 - Tableau Features How did I not know about this before- SpringML

4. Pick Screen Color

If you have a dimension on Color, when you’re in the Edit Colors menu, you can use a custom color rather than having to choose from a palette that’s loaded into Tableau.

When you reach the menu below, under Select Data Item:, simply double click the color or value associated with it, and a pick screen color box will appear.

Figure 6 - Tableau Features How did I not know about this before- SpringML
Figure 7 - Tableau Features How did I not know about this before- SpringML

5. Right Click/Option + Click and Drag

This one will save time and clicks. If you right- click (option + click for Mac) a field from the Data Pane and drag it onto the shelf, it will give you a menu to select how you want to show it in the view. This is most useful for date and measure fields.

Figure 8 - Tableau Features How did I not know about this before- SpringML

The alternative to this is dragging the field on normally, then right- clicking it and navigating in the menu to find what aggregation or date part you’d like to show in the view. This takes more time and clicks than the right -click/option+click drag route!

Final Word

These are only a few out of many features in Tableau that can aid us in becoming better Tableau creators. These newly discovered features have already helped me in my Tableau dashboards, and have spurred me on to keep diving in deep in learning the tool. What about you? What are some features in Tableau that when you learned them, you said, “How did I not know about this before?!”

Thought Leadership