Microsoft Office is the most popular productivity suite in the world. If you use one of the best Chromebooks as your daily driver for work or school, you probably want to run at least one Microsoft app. From word processing to computational tasks with Excel, Office has everything you need to get the job done. While Microsoft doesn’t offer a native Chrome OS app, there are several viable options to run Office apps on a Chromebook. In this article we’ll look at extending Excel functionality on your Chromebook with the Data Analysis Toolpak.
We’ve already covered some of the most popular ways to get Microsoft Excel on your Chromebook, namely using web apps. If you just need basic Excel functions for school, here’s a quick refresher on that option.
Run Microsoft Office 365 web apps
The best option for running Microsoft Office on a Chromebook is via the Microsoft Office 365 web app suite. You can use Office for the web in your browser to create, edit and collaborate on files from your Chromebook. This approach also feels very natural since your Chromebook was built for cloud computing. One key advantage of web apps is you don’t need to install anything, saving storage space on your device.
Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote are all present as web apps, as is Outlook, OneDrive, Skype, People, Calendar, Sway and Forms. All of these web apps have limited free functionality, so to get the full feature set you’ll need to pay for a Microsoft Office 365 subscription. If you’re a student or teacher, you can likely get Office 365 for free through your school or university. Anyone can also get a free one month trial of Office 365.
Those planning to use the web app approach to Office should consider adding shortcuts for the web apps to your app drawer. You can also pin them to your shelf if you want Office always a click away. There’s also a nifty Chrome extension for Microsoft Office, allowing even easier access right inside your browser.
What happened to Office Android apps?
Starting on September 18th 2021, Microsoft will end support for the Office suite of Android apps on Chrome OS. You can continue to use this approach until that time, but Microsoft encourages all users to stick with the aforementioned web apps going forward. Unfortunately, both of these approaches to Excel on Chrome OS lacked Data Analysis Toolpak support anyway. In fact, there isn’t a way to directly run Microsoft Excel with the Data Analysis Toolpak on Chrome OS.
The Data Analysis Toolpak is a very important feature in Excel for students. Luckily, you can easily get all of the Data Analysis Toolpak functionality in an Add-on for Google Sheets. Google Sheets is of course the free spreadsheet program developed by Google. Most of the basic functionality and UI elements work as you’d expect them to in Microsoft Excel. Let’s talk about how to enable the Data Analysis Toolpak via Google Sheets.
How to use Excel Data Analysis Toolpak on Chromebook
The Google Sheets app is available in your Chromebook’s app drawer by default, and you can also visit sheets.google.com to open a new sheet. From here, enter or import the data set you need to work with. In the example screenshots below, I’ve used a sample descriptive stats data set from my undergraduate statistics lecture materials.
Next, head to the top menu bar in Google Sheets and select Add-ons.
This brings up the list of official Google Workspace Add-ons that work with Google Sheets. Search for XL-Miner Analysis Toolpak.
Install the XL-Miner Analysis Toolpak Add-on. You’ll need to accept some basic permissions in order for the Toolpak to work properly.
After installation, the XL-Miner Analysis Toolpak option should appear in the drop-down menu when you select the Add-ons option at the top of Google Sheets. When you click on the Toolpak option, a window will open on the right with all of the Toolpak functions.
The list of available functions coincides completely with the standard Data Analysis Toolpak in Microsoft Excel for Mac or Windows. From here, you can use any of the available statistical tools you need to complete your work.
You may notice the XL-Miner Analysis Toolpak doesn’t have the best reviews in the Google Workspace store. My guess is these reviews are from individuals that aren’t sure what the Toolpak does in the first place. I’ve used this Toolpak for several years and never had any issues accomplishing the same tasks I perform using Excel on my Macbook Pro. In addition, the UI is incredibly intuitive and matches what you see on Excel.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. A quick and easy process on how to use Excel Data Analysis Toolpak on Chromebook via Google Sheets. All you need to do is install the XL-Miner Analysis Toolpak. For other basic Excel functions, you can continue working in the official Excel web app or Android app on your Chromebook. Either way, if you work with spreadsheets and documents all day, consider a nice docking station to simplify your workflow.
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