Did you know that Google Sheets can have more than 18,000 columns at a time? You sure will agree with us that it could be a difficult task to keep track of each of them.
While you’re visualizing that, you’ll soon realize it’s even more difficult to compare data between rows as you scroll left and right.
This is also true when comparing data between columns.
Now, there are about two ways to freeze columns in Google Sheets.
2 Ways to Freeze Columns in Google Sheets
- Freeze the first column
- Freeze a certain number of columns up to the current column
We’ll guide you through these methods step by step in this tutorial. We also made sure to include a guide on how to unfreeze columns in Google Sheets. At the same time, you’ll find a quick guide on how to freeze and unfreeze rows in Google Sheets at the end of this article.
Now, the first method allows you to freeze the first or the first two columns of your spreadsheet. These are predefined choices that come with Google Sheets. On another end, the second method gives you more freedom by specifying the number of columns you can freeze. When you go through either of the methods, you’ll find that the steps are relatively easy to follow as we’ve laid them out with beginners in mind.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Why Should You Freeze Columns in Google Sheets?
More often than not, analyzing a spreadsheet will require you to compare two or more data between multiple columns. With a large dataset, this can be overwhelming. Moreso, it can get complicated when you’re using two columns that are far away from each other.
Knowing which column is which is pivotal when browsing in any given spreadsheet. Freezing your columns enables you to navigate through your spreadsheet while keeping an eye on your row headings at the same time. Here are a couple of scenarios where freezing your columns can help ease browsing through your spreadsheets:
- When your row is really long and you need to remember the first few columns as you scroll right.
- When you need to access a data set at the far right of your spreadsheet while keeping your first few columns visible.
Fortunately, Google Sheets has a solution to this problem. Google Sheets provides various options to freeze columns in your spreadsheet. You can specify the number of columns you want to freeze or simply use the pre-defined options set by Google Sheets.
Moreover, you can freeze the first column so that you can scroll left and right without losing sight of which row you are comparing. In such a manner, you can easily analyze data values between rows and columns.
Now, here’s how you can freeze columns in Google Sheets.
Method 1: Freeze the First Column in Google Sheets
If your goal is to freeze the first column only, then this method is for you. This method employs the Freeze options that Google Sheets has in store for us.
Here are the steps to do that.
Step 1. Open up your Google Sheets file.
Before we get started, we will need to open up a spreadsheet document. You may create a copy of the document used in this guide so you could follow us every step of the way. But feel free to use your own personal spreadsheet if you already have one opened.
Don’t worry about destroying your document because you can always undo the changes by simply pressing CTRL+Z on your keyboard. After all, this method should not change or delete any of your data.
Step 2. Go to the View menu.
Now that you have a spreadsheet opened, click the View menu found at the Menu bar. You’ll find this located at the upper-left corner of your Google Sheets window.
Step 3. Freeze the first column of your spreadsheet.
After clicking the View tab and having the drop-down menu opened, click on Freeze. You should see another drop-down menu with more options and features. From there, simply select the 1 column option.
- Click Freeze to show more options.
- Select 1 column to freeze the first column.
On another note, select 2 columns from the list of Freeze options if you want to freeze the first two columns.
Congratulations! You’ve just frozen the first column in Google Sheets.
Now while you’re at it, why don’t you check out the “Freezing Rows in Google Sheets” section found at the end of this article?
Method 2: Freeze Columns up to the Current Column
Fortunately for you, Google Sheets offers another option if you want to freeze more than just two columns. In this method, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to specify the number of columns you can freeze.
Here are the steps to freeze a certain number of columns.
Step 1. Open up your Google Sheets file.
Before anything else, we’ll need a spreadsheet document opened. Feel free to use your own personal documents for this method. As a matter of fact, you can also use a blank one if you’re worried about messing up your document. The steps in this method should not change nor delete any of your data.
Alternatively, you may create a copy of the spreadsheet used in this guide. This way, you can better see the benefits of freezing columns in Google Sheets.
Step 2. Select or highlight a column.
Once you have your file opened, click the last column of the chosen set of columns that you want to freeze. This step will require you to click on the column letter to select a particular column.
By default, Google Sheets will always start from column A up to the column you have selected. For this example, we will select column D. This way, we can later compare the prices in column D between two or more products in column F.
Tip: You can simply select a cell in that column, and it will have the same result.
Step 3. Go to the View menu.
Go to the View menu from there. To reiterate, you’ll find this at the upper-left corner of your window. Once the drop-down menu opens, select Freeze to show more options. Now, select Up to current column (#).
Do note that if you are using a copy of our document or clicked on the same column we did, it should say Up to current column (D).
- Click Freeze to see more options.
- Select Up to current column (D) to freeze columns A to D.
You can try scrolling left and right, and you should notice that columns A to D are fixed in place.
In case you’re wondering how many columns you can freeze in Google Sheets, we’ve tried far beyond column Z and here’s what we got:
It’s important to note that it would defeat the purpose of freezing columns if you have frozen columns more than the width of your window.
Unfreeze Columns in Google Sheets
One way or another, you will need to unfreeze columns in Google Sheets. This is particularly true if there have been significant changes in your spreadsheet.
Thankfully, unfreezing columns is as simple as freezing them in Google Sheets. To unfreeze columns in Google Sheets, simply expand the Freeze options and select No columns.
- Select Freeze to display more options.
- Select No Columns to unfreeze all frozen columns.
Freezing Rows in Google Sheets
You’ll also find it useful to learn about how to freeze rows in Google Sheets. You’ll find the methods to be the same, except for the fact that you will be selecting rows instead of columns.
We’ve created a separate article on how to freeze rows in Google Sheets. If you want an in-depth tutorial on this, you can go ahead and visit this link.
Learning how to freeze columns in Google Sheets is an important skill to have, especially when managing spreadsheets. Google spreadsheets with large datasets and length columns can be hard to browse through. Having frozen columns will help you minimize mistakes when comparing data over a handful of rows and columns.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful!