Make Sense of Smartsheet Tools - dummies

Make Sense of Smartsheet Tools

By James T. Cains

When you create a new sheet in Smartsheet, you see a whole bunch of tools for working with your sheet. On the left are several toolboxes that you can use to work with what you type into the sheet, while below you see several tabs for additional functionality involving the sheet (see Figure 1 for reference).

Understanding the toolboxes

If you’re familiar with other programs like Microsoft Word and Excel, you’ll likely recognize most of the button icons on the left. Here’s what they mean by grouping of icons:

  • File-related functions: The top six buttons enable you to open, print, save, and e-mail the sheet. The Undo and Redo functions are also in this group.

  • View-related functions: The next group of three buttons enables to you change the view of your sheet, from a grid to a Gantt chart to a calendar view. If you’ve never heard of Gantt charts, you’re not alone, because they’re very specific to project management. Simply, a Gantt chart shows the tasks in a project schedule as a series of horizontal lines spanning a linear timelime.

  • Alignment-related functions: The third group of four buttons enables you to left or right justify, center, indent, or wrap text within a cell.

  • Font-related functions: This fourth group of buttons enables you to control how your text is formatted in a cell, from choosing the font to resizing, bolding, and italicizing text.

  • Conditional formatting: This button enables you to automatically format cells based on contents of the cell. For example, you can specify cells to be highlighted a certain color if they contain a certain word, phrase, or number. So, in a column showing task progress, you may have green cells for approved, yellow cells for needs changes, and red cells for show-stopping issues.

  • Highlight changes: This button enables you to see recent changes to the sheet, so you can view the changes your collaborators may have made.

  • Linking: This button enables you to link to information in other cells. You can even reference information in other sheets.

  • Formula-related functions: This group of six buttons enables you to create formulas that automatically calculate values based on cell contents. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Excel formulas, these work much the same way.

  • Formatting: The paintbrush icon enables you to copy the formatting from one row or cell and apply it to another. Say you’ve bolded, italicized, and highlighted a cell, and you want other cells to have that formatting, too. Click the original cell, click the paintbrush icon, and then drag your mouse over the cells you want formatted the same way. This way, you don’t have to choose each cell and choose all those different formatting options.

Understanding the tabs at the bottom

You can also see seven tabs at the bottom of the sheet. Here’s what those tabs are for:

  • Sharing: This tab is where you invite collaborators to view or edit the sheet. This option sends an e-mail to each collaborator with a link to the sheet.

  • Alerts: This tab is where you set up notifications and reminders. For example, you, as the sheet’s owner, can choose to be notified when any of your collaborators modifies the sheet. You can also set up reminders that are triggered by dates, such as task-due reminders.

  • Attachments: This tab enables you to attach documents to the sheet as a whole, as opposed to attaching them to particular rows. For example, documents such as a list of resources might be attached here.

  • Discussions: This tab enables you to begin an overall discussion about the project, as opposed to discussions that are particular to a row.

  • Update Requests: This tab enables you to request updates from not only collaborators, but also those who you haven’t shared the sheet with. They receive an e-mailed update request, to which they can respond without logging into Smartsheet.

  • Web Forms: Say you want collaborators to fill out the rows in the sheet. You can create a web form that they can fill out, which, when completed, will create new rows in the sheet. This is great for surveys or other feedback forms.

  • Publish: You can make the sheet available outside of Smartsheet by publishing it, which enables you to share the sheet’s URL via e-mail or embed the sheet on a Web site.

    Figure 1: Understand the tools and tabs.
    Figure 1: Understand the tools and tabs.