Tableau Tips – Volume 15 Quick Tips

Tableau Tips – Volume 15 Quick Tips

Here is the 15th installment of Tableau tips where I explore quick tips that I find very useful.

#10 – Hover Over Recent File Thumbnail

This feature was added in Tableau 2019.1. Move your mouse over a thumbnail in your recent file list and you can see the different visualizations in your workbook.

#9 – Drag Table Calculation to Calculation Window

I find this to be one of the most useful features to help people see and understand table calculations. You can use the quick table calculations and edit table calculations to create a table calculation on any measure. If you create a new calculated field, then you can simply drag that measure into the calculated field window and Tableau will automatically show you the table calculation formula. Try creating different table calculations and dragging them in to see how they are calculated. Here is an example using a running sum of Quantity with a secondary table calculation of percent of total.

#8 – Drag Pill to Secondary Axis for Quick Dual Axis

This is the fastest way to create a dual axis. Instead of adding a second pill, then right-clicking to select Dual Axis, simply drag the pill to secondary axis location (on the right for a secondary y-axis or the top for a secondary x-axis). Note, this will note work when using the CTRL key to duplicate a pill, but it’s a one-step process to get a dual-axis. Remember to right-click and synchronize your dual axis if appropriate for the chart view.

#7 – Avoiding the Mark Type Changing on Dual Axis

When adding a pill to create a dual axis the marks will often change in the view. This is because the default mark type is set to Automatic. You might start off with a bar chart, but when adding another pill to the secondary axis they both become Circle Marks. To avoid this from happening, set the mark type to the desired mark to force the mark type. Now when you add another pill as a secondary or dual axis, the mark type will not change. In this example, you will set what happens when the Running Sum is added to Quantity as an Automatic Mark vs. a Bar.

#6 – Show View Toolbar on Charts

This one is super simple. Just like on a map, you can right-click on the blank chart area of any chart and select Show View Toolbar. This will give you very similar tools as the Map, including zooming in and out on the chart, a pin, a zoom area, pan, and rectangular, radial and lasso selection tools. Note when using zoom on charts, the chart will zoom in and likely break the zero axis (starting the chart from the zoom area instead of a zero baseline). This can be very handy to zoom in on points, for example a scatter plot or line chart, but be very careful how you use this. It could quickly distort your data, for example, zooming in on a bar chart that wouldn’t start at a zero axis.

#5 – Turn Off Auto Generate Phone Layout

By default, Tableau will automatically generate a phone layout. This appears in the Device Preview and if you do not want this layout then you will need to go in an delete the layout. However, there is another alternative. You can set each Dashboard to default with the auto generated layout turned off. Then when you create a new dashboard or drag worksheets onto the dashboard it will not automatically create a phone layout.

#4 – Adding Droplines

Droplines can be a helpful addition to a visualization. I don’t see them used very often. Curtis Harris used them elegantly in his winning visualization at the 2016 Iron Viz. They are simple to use. Just right-click and select Add Droplines.

#3 – Editing Droplines

By default, Droplines will be automatic, but there are a number of options that can be very useful. You can set them to always show and you can control if they should appear on the x-axis, the y-axis or both. Here is an example where I used them to create a timeline, setting them to always show and only on the x-axis. Below is an example of a single axis lollipop chart using droplines.

#2 – Hide Data Pane to Format Dashboard

When viewing your dashboard in presentation mode, you can’t move elements around on the screen. This includes Tiled and Floating Objects. However, you might want to see the entire dashboard view while making edits to the formatting. Simply click the Data Pane to make it disappear. You will then see an area that is similar to presentation mode, but it will allow you all of the formatting options that you have outside of presentation mode. To make the Data Pane reappear, simply click on it again in the bottom left-hand corner and it will come back up.

#1 – Multi-Select Map Layers, Filters, and Set Values

This one is a huge time saver and I find that it’s one that many people don’t know about. When there are lots of check boxes (map layers, filters, set values) and you want to select all of them or you want to clear all of them, you do not have to click them all one by one. Instead, utilize the control or shift key to multi-select the ones you want. To select individual points simply hold down the control key. If you want all of the points, then click the top of the list and hold down the shift key to select the bottom of the list. Once they are selected, use the SPACE bar to toggle the check boxes on and off. You can now select an entire list of items in the Map Layers, a long list of Filters or Set Values. Note – this will not work on Filters in the User Interface for the end user on a Published Viz, but it works perfectly in all of the Tableau Desktop windows.

I hope you find this information useful. If you have any questions feel free to email me at

Jeffrey A. Shaffer

Follow on Twitter @HighVizAbility

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Written by Ayodeji Edunjobi


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