How to Use Airtable

My best advice for beginning with this app is to
download it and watch all the tutorials. 😊

Here’s
a how-to short sheet to supplement.

On first use, the app opens into a new workspace.
Workspaces are places to organize data and databases. It’s a folder, but visual—a page on Trello, a timeline on Aeon
Timeline, a worksheet on Excel. Airtable gives a few sample bases—databases—to
start. But let’s create one from scratch to get the hang of the app. (I’m
working with the app on a browser.)

New Workspaces

  1. Click on the + Add a Workspace on the left menu. A
    new base will appear below the sample one.
  2. Give the workspace a name.
  3. Select the small arrow to the right of the name to
    rename, upgrade your plan, or delete the workspace. You can have an unlimited
    number of workspaces. But base records are limited on the free plan, with 1200
    total records on your bases, regardless of the number of workspaces and bases.

Building a Base

Base stands for database, and there are a ton of
choices in the templates. But save that for later. Let’s build a new one.

  1. Click on Add a Base.
  2. Select From Scratch.
  3. Give the base a name, color, and icon. (You don’t have to do the color or
    icon, but it helps with organization.) You can change any of these aspects by clicking
    on the down arrow next to the base title.

Now you’re
inside your database. Airtable has some great tutorials on the left menu if you
need some assistance. Let’s work from left to right.

Views

There are multiple views to examine data. To truly
see the difference between views, add some basic data to the table.

  • Grid—the first view given. It shows the base like a
    regular database, with fields across the top. Again, Airtable starts you with
    some basic fields. You can change the titles, add, and delete fields.
  • Form—this transforms data into basically a Google
    form. Useful for creating questionnaires, surveys, and sign-ups.
  • Calendar—see data as it occurs chronologically. Great
    for viewing deadlines, meetings, and project progress. This calendar can be
    synced with Google Calendar.
  • Gallery—perfect for an image-based record. Each image
    can have notes, attachments, and status.
  • Kanban—a view for the project as notecards on a
    corkboard, similar to Scrivener.

All views are stored on the left menu. Click and hold
on the dotted box to sort the views by dragging the icon up or down. You can
add multiple of the same type of view (three grids, two galleries, etc.).

Deleting and Changing Views

  1. Click on the view you need to change or delete.
  2. On the status bar above the list of views, your
    current view can be seen with a colored icon.
  3. Select on the three dots next to the view and choose options.
  4. Change the view name, description, or duplicate it.
  5. More importantly, PRINT the view for a hard copy and
    also Delete as an option. You cannot delete the initial Grid view.

Let’s
go back to Grid view and play with fields.

Adding and Editing Fields

Adding is simple. Click on the plus sign + after the
last field, and a new one will appear.

Dealing with Fields

Select on the small arrow next to the field name. A
menu will appear with multiple options.

  • Customize field type—This allows the user to change
    the field name, add the type of data entered (money, dates, etc.). Each type
    has an icon with it to let users know what type of field it is. A check box has
    a check box icon. A single line of text as a capital A and so on.
  • Rename field—change the field name only.
  • Edit field description—add a few words to further
    explain the field’s purpose.
  • Edit field permissions—use when working with others
    on the project to allow (or disallow) editing of the field. (Premium features
    apply here.)
  • Duplicate field—make an exact copy of the field.
  • Insert right (or left)—add a new field in whichever
    direction.
  • Sort—Sort data in the field alphabetically.
  • Add filter—sort data automatically to a new field if
    it has certain text, numbers, etc.
  • Group by this field—add a grouping to the data to
    further organize it. Groups will appear in the status bar above the field
    names.
  • Hide field—close a field from view. Hidden fields
    will appear in the status bar above the field names.
  • Delete field—remove a field, except the first field.
    All bases must have the first field.

Adding Data

Adding information to a field depends on the type of
field. Here’s a short
list (because there are twenty-nine types).

  • Adding text using Single Line or Long Text is
    accomplished by clicking on a blank cell and typing. The box is small but will
    expand to whatever is typed. If it’s
    hard to read in the small box, click the blue arrow to expand the cell into a
    text box. Click on the X when done, and the text is saved in the cell.
  • Attachments are easy to add to cells. Change the
    field type to Attachments. Then drag and drop files right into the cell.
  • Checkbox fields. Select this type, and the name
    changes to Done. (That can be customized.) Each cell will have a checkbox for
    the items in that row. This type has an added feature that a check can trigger
    another task, message, or field. (Sadly, the cool colors and icons are only for
    premium users.)
  • Single and Multiple Select cells allow the creator to
    make a list of choices. Single allows users to choose one option. Multiple can
    have several answers.
  • Add a web address to a URL field. Type the address,
    and Airtable will link the data to the site.

That’s quite a bit of info, and I
haven’t gotten through all the features. We’ll do another How-To next week!

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