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Filter tables via controls

Learn how to filter your tables and views using canvas controls, for convenient, dynamic filtering

Updated over a week ago

Canvas controls make your doc easier to engage with and more intuitive for your team. When you add them to the canvas of your doc, you’re able to define how and where others interact with your doc, and create safeguards so your teammates can view or modify data without fear of breaking a table.

The most common use case for controls is filtering tables and views. They can be either personal (so they only affect the filtering for the individual using them) or collaborative (so they filter everyone’s view simultaneously). This article will cover how to create these controls, customize them, and use them to start filtering your data.

ℹ️ If you’re wondering about other ways to filter your tables and views, check out this article.

Within this article you’ll find...

Create a control for filtering

There are a few ways to create a control for filtering. You can either create one from the column header menu or from the filter builder. Or you can connect your tables to an existing control. Read on to learn more.

Via the column header

The quickest way to create a filter control is via a column header:

  1. Locate the table or view you want to filter. Choose the column that you want to filter based on, and right-click on the header.

  2. From the list of options, hover over the Filter, then choose the Canvas control option.

  3. Click on + Create control to create a new control filter

    1. If you want to use an existing control instead, choose it from the options shown.

NEW create control from column header.gif

A control will appear directly above the table and will automatically be connected to the table or view. The control is ready to use! If needed, you can customize the control via the steps below.

💡Tip: If you want to see what’s going on behind-the-scenes, hover over the table and click Filter in the upper right. You should now see a filter rule based on your newly created control.

Via the filter builder

Another option for creating filter controls is to go directly through the filter builder. This option requires a few more steps, but let’s you see a bit more of what’s going on “under the hood.”

  1. Locate the table or view you want to filter. Hover over the table, and click on Filter in the upper right corner to open the filter builder.

  2. Click on +Add filter

  3. From the list of columns, choose the column that you want to filter by

  4. A new filter rule will be generated. Click on the text directly under the column name, and choose the uses canvas control option.

  5. If no controls exist for this table, you’ll only see a Create control option. Click this to automatically add a new control to the canvas above your table.

    1. If your doc already contains a control that matches this column type, you’ll have the option to either use that existing control or to create a new control (via the + Create control option).

create new control from table.gif

That’s it! A control will be created directly above the table or view. The control type will match the selected column type. This control is automatically connected to the table as a filter, so you can start using it to filter. Just click on the control to modify the value, and watch the table or view filter accordingly. If needed, you can customize the control via the steps in the section below.

Filter with multiple controls

You aren’t limited to just one filter control per table. You can create any number of controls to let you and your teammates filter based on multiple columns at once. To do so, simply add additional controls via the steps described in either of the sections above.

You’ll see in the filter builder for the table that multiple filter rules now exist, one for each control. By default, these filters will be additive (notice the AND between the filter rules in the screenshot below). So the table will show results that are the overlap of the multiple filter criteria. If you instead want to see results that match either one control or the other, you can change this AND to an OR in the filter builder.

Frame 1 (17).png

Customize your control

Once you’ve created a control and connected it to your table, you can customize the control as needed. Just right click on the control to open the settings panel.

Here you can give the control a name, which will allow you to easily reference the control in formulas and in other parts of your doc. You can also choose whether the control will be personal or collaborative (more on this below). You’ll also fill in or modify any control-specific fields (these vary depending on the control type). And finally, you have the option to set a starting value.

💡Tip: You can also change the size of your canvas controls. Just highlight them as you would any text on the canvas, and a text editing bar will appear. On the left end of the bar, choose between normal text size, H1, H2, or H3.

Personal vs collaborative

For each control you create, you can also choose to make it either a personal control or a collaborative control.

  • Personal controls apply only to the individual user. So if a user makes a change to a person filter control, the table will filter only for that individual.

  • Collaborative controls are shared by all users in a doc. Any change made to the control will be seen by everyone in the doc. So if a user changes the value in a collaborative filter control, the table will be filtered for everyone in the doc.

Note: Newly created controls will always be personal by default.

Set starting value

At the bottom of your control settings, you have the option to set a Starting value. This field allows you to specify the initial value that is populated until you choose to modify it. Note that this field is only available for personal controls.

For example, in the example control below, “Active” is the value that you will see if you haven’t modified the control value. Also, any buttons with the Reset control value action will revert the control back to “Active.”

set starting value for control.gif


What’s the difference between controls and the filter bar?

Both the filter bar and controls are ways of creating dynamic, visible filters. But they do have some key differences.

Unlike controls which live on the canvas of your doc, the filter bar is simply an optional component of a table. So while controls can be named and referenced in formulas, filter bar filters cannot. Additionally, controls can be made either personal or collaborative, whereas the filter bar is always only personal.

In general, if you have many people working with a large table, and you want to set up personal filters that don’t disrupt others’ view of the data, we recommend the filter bar. That said, there are times where controls better fit your needs and preferences.

What are the “set control value” and “reset control value” buttons?

The set control value and reset control value are both pre-built button actions that affect controls. When you create a button, you will see these actions in the dropdown options.

The set control value action allows you to specify a control and a value for that control. When clicked, the button will change the value of the control accordingly.

The reset control value button, when clicked, will revert the control value to any starting value that has been set for that control. Read more about setting starting values above.

How do I use an existing control for filtering?

If you have an existing canvas control that matches up to a column in your table, you can simply connect your table to that control (rather than creating a brand new control). Simply follow the steps in the first section of this article, and instead of clicking on the +Create control option, choose your existing control from the list of available controls.

Note that the control type will have to match the column type that you’re trying to filter by. For instance, if you’re wanting to filter based on a text column, you will only be able to choose from existing text controls.

Can I write my own filter formula that references a control?

Absolutely! Controls are easy to reference in any formula. Just type the name of the control (found in the control settings) into the formula builder, and then select the control from the options. Now you can write whatever formula you’d like. We recommend pairing the control with the Matches() formula for best results. So your filter formula might look something like:


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