Tableau Tip: Shortcuts

This was originally posted on my first blog, Data vs Food, in February 2018

Before I’d ever heard of Tableau I mainly used AutoCAD for the work I was doing (a slightly different job to my current one!). If you’ve never heard of it, it’s used in a huge range of industries to create accurate drawings/schematics/layouts of anything and everything. It’s a very versatile and incredibly powerful tool, but one way to excel when using AutoCAD is to make use of its wide array of keyboard shortcuts, they allow you to do everything you’d normally do, just faster. Here’s their extensive list of keyboard shortcuts, further down the page you’ll notice that most of the shortcuts are multiple letters in length. To use them you start typing and then hit space to enter the shortcut.

Tableau has a slightly more modest collection of keyboard shortcuts here are a few that I find really useful and help me do things a little bit faster.

(note: If you’re using a Mac, Ctrl = Command, Alt = Option)

Ctrl + M

Create a new worksheet (pretty straightforward and is the same shortcut as Power Point)

Ctrl + E

Describes the current sheet, also works in a dashboard when you select a specific sheet


Ctrl + F

Activates “find” in the current worksheet and you can search for a field name, really useful when data sources have lots of columns



Swap the fields on rows and columns

Any Letter Key

When a field is selected within the data pane, pressing a letter key will move the selection to the next field/folder beginning with that letter

Hold Ctrl to multi select pills

You can select multiple fields and drag them onto or off of a shelf or card

Hold Ctrl and drag a single pill to duplicate

This is also works in conjunction with holding Ctrl to multi select, so you can you duplicate multiple pills with a single drag and drop

Dragging using right click

This shows a new window that allows you to choose the aggregation of certain fields when you drop them onto a shelf or card.



Refresh current data source


Starts and stops Presentation Mode

When you’re in presentation mode, the left and right arrows move you to the next worksheet/dashboard.

PageUp/PageDown take you to the first and last tab in the workbook.

(This also works when you’re not in presentation mode, but it’s most useful there).


Removes everything from the current Worksheet or Dashboard

What would I change?

Personally, it’d be the shortcuts used to add a selected field to shelf or card. They currently are:

Alt+Shift+C or Alt+Shift+Y – Columns

Alt+Shift+R or Alt+Shift+X – Rows

Alt+Shift+F – Filters

Alt+Shift+I – Size

Alt+Shift+L – Detail

Alt+Shift+O – Colour

Alt+Shift+P – Pages

Alt+Shift+S – Shape

Alt+Shift+T – Text

Currently about half of these require you to take your hand off your mouse to comfortably enter the shortcut, I find that doing this slows my work down and it makes me far less likely to use these shortcuts. I think removing Alt+Shift from the shortcuts would make for less cumbersome entry and a potentially faster workflow, a user could (for example) select Order Date and press C, select Sales press R, select Category and press O to create a simple chart very quickly.

Using a method like this, one hand remains on the mouse and the other on the keyboard; the mouse has a very short distance to travel and you could get something built faster than dragging and dropping. I think Tableau doesn’t utilise the keyboard as well as it could, which is a fairly minor gripe in the grand scheme of things to be honest!