Android iPhone and iPad Productivity

How to Open Excel Files on a Phone or Tablet

Brad Jones 07-11-2016

Even when it comes to viewing spreadsheets, our mobile devices are more capable than they once were, but they’re still not perfect. For instance, your iPhone may be able to preview a spreadsheet attached to an email without a purpose-built app, but there’s no guarantee that it will appear exactly as it did on the sender’s monitor.


Sometimes, it takes specialized software to get the job done properly. Fortunately, there are several different apps that are capable of opening up spreadsheets and helping you make your edits. Here are the best of the bunch.

How to Open a Spreadsheet Natively

To edit a spreadsheet on your smartphone, you’ll want to download one of the apps listed below. However, if you only need to view the document, you might be able to use built-in tools.

How to Open a Spreadsheet Using Google Drive on Android

Most recent Android devices come pre-loaded with Google Play Services, which includes Google Drive. You should be able to open up Excel files natively Access Your Files From Anywhere With Google Drive [Android] If you’re using Google Drive on your computer and you own an Android smartphone or tablet, you should install Google Drive for Android. With the app, you can access the files in your Google Drive... Read More using this functionality — if not, check out one of the apps featured in this article.

How to Open a Spreadsheet as an Email Attachment on iOS

Android users have many ways to transfer files to their device Move Files from Mac to Android Without Android File Transfer If you need to transfer files between your Android device and Mac computer, these tools make it quick and easy. Read More , but on iOS it’s not so easy. However, it’s still relatively straightforward to open up documents sent to you as an email attachment.

Simply open up the attachment itself from the Mail app, then press the button in the bottom-right corner.


How to Open Excel Files on a Phone or Tablet apple icon

This will present you with some advanced options. Scroll through the middle bar of icons to find your desired app. You’ll be able to import the content into your chosen editor.

import to apps

Of course, the apps themselves offer other methods of opening files. The examples in this article even support cloud-based file storage. This is just a quick and easy way of receiving and opening a spreadsheet from another user on iOS.


Microsoft Excel

The chances are that the spreadsheet you’re trying to view was created with Excel, so why not use the same program for true continuity?

Microsoft made no secret of its intention to bring mobile closer to the desktop experience with the release of Windows 10, and many improvements were made to the Office suite as part of this effort. While previous mobile apps were severely limited compared to the desktop version, the current Excel app for iOS and Android is very robust.

excel app

However, there is one caveat — while the app itself is free, its capabilities depend on what sort of Office subscription you have access to. Basic functionality is available to all users, but more advanced features require an active Office 365 membership How to See If Your Office 365 Subscription Is Active Not sure if you activated your Office 365 subscription? Want to check and make sure? Here's how to do it easily. Read More .


One major downside of the Excel app is its size. At over 400 MB, it’s perhaps too large for users working with a limited amount of storage space. That said, it’s head and shoulders above its competition in terms of compatibility with the desktop client, its feature set, and its overall level of polish.

Download — Microsoft Excel for Android (Free with in-app purchases), Microsoft Excel for iOS (Free with in-app purchases)

Google Sheets

In terms of free Office competitors, no one can really compete with Google. The company’s services are available across all platforms — including a potent web-based client — making them very easily accessible. What’s more, their collaboration options are neck-and-neck with Microsoft’s output.

sheets app


The Google Sheets app is a very capable spreadsheet viewer and editor for smartphones and tablets. To an even greater extent than the Excel app, its functionality has been tailored toward usage on a smaller screen size. This is particularly useful if you’re using your phone.

The biggest benefit of using Google Sheets is its strong links with the wider Google ecosystem. It’s easy to access files from your Drive 7 Essential Google Drive Storage Tips You Should Read Again You might not know everything about Google Drive. These seven essential Google Drive tips should help you squeeze every benefit out of the productivity suite. Read More , and share spreadsheets with other users. Multiple users can even work together in the same spreadsheet, at the same time.

Download — Google Sheets for Android (Free), Google Sheets for iOS (Free)

Citrix QuickEdit

While Citrix isn’t a household name on the level of Microsoft and Google, the business communications giant demonstrates its knack for the workplace with the QuickEdit app. This piece of software allows you to view and edit Excel spreadsheets for free, and its highly refined interface might suit some users better than the other apps featured above.


QuickEdit devotes as much screen space as possible to the spreadsheet itself. To allow for this, minimalist icons offer easy access to wide range of functionality. A button in the top right corner makes sure that the keyboard is accessible at all times. Meanwhile, a small, swipe-enabled toolbar at the bottom of the screen contains quick links to formatting functionality, save and load operations, and a host of other essentials.

The app’s biggest failing is its dated visual appearance. We expect business software to be a little dour, but spreadsheets simply look less appealing here than they do in other apps. On the other hand, they’re perfectly clear and legible, even if they’re not as attractive.

Download — Citrix QuickEdit for iOS (Free)

Do you have a recommendation for a particular spreadsheet viewer for iOS and Android? Or are you having issues with one of the apps in this guide? You can ask for help — or offer assistance — in the comments section below.

Originally written by Simon Slangen on September 17, 2012.

Related topics: Android Tips, iPad, iPhone, Microsoft Excel, Spreadsheet.

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  1. Mike
    July 24, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    PERFECT instructions on how to open an Excel spreadsheet attachment on my iPhone!!!!
    Thanks so much for the directions!!!

  2. vishal kumar
    October 11, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Is there complete editing option, creating excel formulas for the worksheets option available on the 'documents to go' app?

  3. Mark Robinson
    September 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Great advice. I downloaded the app and was CloudOn in no time.

  4. bonioloff
    September 19, 2012 at 3:56 am

    There are many office editor in iOS, but i think i there are no office editor that can sync data to Google Drive or dropbox.. None...
    I already try many of them..

  5. raj gopal
    September 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    my favorite open office, any day...;)

  6. Vaibhav
    September 18, 2012 at 8:46 am

    How can you forget Kingsoft Office..Its new interface is awesome and it opens the excel files with ease.

  7. Swaroop Nunna
    September 18, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Good one, I am looking for this information.