Pivot Tables in Numbers is HOT

I just took a moment to look at the new features in Keynote and Numbers. Live Video in Keynote is pretty cool as a catch-up feature (and I’ll use it for sure), but one feature in Numbers captured my attention: Pivot Tables.

I have to use spreadsheets and analyze data on occasion, and Excel has long offered an implementation of Pivot Tables that works, if you work at it. But honestly, the harder Excel tries to be friendly to those of us who merely brush up against arithmetic from time to time, the more frustrating it becomes.

On the other hand, Apple has implemented Pivot Tables in a way that takes less than 3 minutes to understand and apply:

  • Look at the sample table.
  • Decide what your end product is and check the boxes next to those labels.
  • Move data labels to a row or column.
  • Behold your analytical awesomeness.

If that sequence ever slips your mind, a “Pivot Table Basics” template is included, and it provides sufficiently clear explanation and examples to get you on track.

Every once in a while, I’m reminded of why Apple’s overall approach overcomes some of its infuriating blind spots. This is one of those times.


Thank you for that explanation. I will try it out.
Pivot tables are especially useful for large databases. The 1980s DOS package “Open Access” (nothing to do with Microsoft!) had a “cross tabulation” function in its database module that achieved this and could be utilised in its high-level programming language. I still use Open Acces (on a Mac, in Dosbox) for some analysis as subsequent database software cannot beat it.
For example I also use Filemaker for database work but find I sometimes have to export records in Excel format and create a pivot table in Excel to produce the output I am seeking. This is very tedious and cannot be easily automated. I will look at using Numbers for this in future.

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That’s pretty awesome. I’ll have to try it out. I haven’t needed a pivot table in years, but they were super useful at my corporate job.

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That is great! Pivot tables is one of the reasons Numbers didn’t work for me.


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Pivot tables have been a significant reason Excel/Microsoft Office has been entrenched in business, research, etc. and for so many years. Though I only had to use them rarely, they were a horror for this non financial, not geeky Apple product lover, so an easy to use version would be a big plus for people like me.

A question…can they work in iOS Numbers? They work in the iOS version of Excel.

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Wow, this is great. So much better than Excel.