Understanding Sheets

VisiData’s workflow revolves around “sheets.” As with traditional spreadsheet programs, VisiData’s sheets are composed of columns and rows.

But VisiData’s takes the sheet concept to the next level: In VisiData, nearly everything — even the program’s own settings panel — is a sheet.

In VisiData, there are three types of sheets:

  • Source sheets: The data you’ve loaded directly into VisiData
  • Derived sheets: Sheets that are based on data in your source sheets. E.g., a frequency table, or a filtered subset of rows.
  • Metasheets: These are sheets that help you navigate and customize VisiData. Two of the most powerful are the Sheets Sheet (discussed below) and the Columns Sheet (discussed in the “Understanding Columns” chapter).

How to use the Sheets Sheet

VisiData’s “Sheets Sheet” lists all currently-open sheets and makes it easy to jump between sheets.

From anywhere in VisiData, you can open the Sheets Sheet by pressing Shift-S.

If you’ve just launched VisiData with a single dataset, pressing Shift-S will open a Sheets Sheet that looks something like this:

  File  Edit  View  Column  Row  Data  Plot  System  Help     | VisiData 3.0.2 | Alt+H for help men
 name                type         pane# shortcut  nRows# nCols# nVisibleCols# cursorDisplay>
 sheets             ║ SheetsSheet │    1 │ Shift+S  │     2 │    11 │           11 │ sheets        │
 faa-wildlife-strik… CsvSheet        1  1         73448     16            16  BUSINESS      Shift+S› sheets|                                                      Shift+S             2 sheets 

Not very exciting. But as you start juggling more sheets — frequency tables, multiple datasets, et cetera — the Sheets Sheet becomes very handy.

You can navigate the Sheets Sheet much like you would any other sheet, with one main difference: Pressing Enter will open that row’s sheet.


Pressing d on a Sheets Sheet will send that row’s sheet to the “sheets graveyard.” (You can type gS to visit the graveyard, and revive sheets there via Enter.)

How to rename a sheet

There are two ways to rename a sheet:

  • Go to the Sheets Sheet, and navigate to the row representing the sheet you want to rename. Press e to go into editing mode, type the new name, and then press Enter to complete the renaming.
  • Alternatively, while in the sheet you want to rename, press Space to raise the type-a-command prompt. Then, type rename-sheet and press Enter. At the next prompt, type the new name, and press Enter to complete the renaming.

How to close/remove a sheet

To close the current sheet (removing it from VisiData), press q.

To close all sheets (and, hence, quitting VisiData in its entirety), type gq.

To access the “sheets graveyard”, a listing of recently-closed sheets, type gS.

How to prevent sheet closure/removal

You can prevent VisiData from quitting a sheet by “guarding” it. To do so, press Space to raise the type-a-command prompt. Then, type guard-sheet and press Enter.

Quickly toggling between sheets

To flip back and forth between your current sheet and the previous one, press Control-^.

Additionally, VisiData assigns every sheet a numeric shortcut, visible at the bottom-left corner of the interface. You can jump to a sheet by pressing Alt plus the shortcut number — for instance Alt-1 to go to the first sheet you loaded.