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Google Sheets features a variety of tools related to data input and validation, such as adding drop-down lists or checkboxes. Checkboxes allow users to select or enable options quickly, simply by clicking on the relevant checkbox. However, the best part is that you can use those choices to trigger other actions. There are many ways to integrate them into your spreadsheet processes, as checkboxes can be used with functions, filters, pivot tables, and charts.

In this post, you will learn how to insert checkboxes in Google Sheets and how to change the default values to custom ones. Additionally, you will learn to combine checkboxes with other tools and functions. You will learn to apply conditional formatting rules based on checkbox values, as well as how to use these values with other Google Sheets functions, like COUNTIF. To learn more about the COUNTIF function, check out COUNTIF & COUNTIFS in Google Sheets: Formula & Examples.

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How to Insert a Checkbox in Google Sheets?

There are two ways to insert a checkbox in Google Sheets: Insert > Checkbox or Data > Data validation. In the next section, you have instructions on using the second option, which allows you to use custom values.

  1. 1. Select the cell where you want the checkbox to appear.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Select Cell
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Select Cell
  1. 2. Go to Insert > Checkbox.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Insert Checkbox
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Insert Checkbox
  1. 3. The cell now contains an unchecked checkbox, so its value is ‘FALSE’.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Unchecked Value of Checkbox
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Unchecked Value of Checkbox
  1. 4. The cell’s value is ‘TRUE’ when the checkbox is checked.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Checked Value of Checkbox
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Checked Value of Checkbox

In a later section, you will learn how to use the values of your checkboxes in your Google Sheets functions.

How to Add a Drop Down List in Google Sheets
How to Add a Drop-Down List in Google Sheets

If a Google Sheet spreadsheet requires you to enter the same options over and over, you can make data entry easier by adding a drop down list. Here’s how.

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How to Add Custom Values to a Checkbox in Google Sheets?

To add a checkbox with custom values, you can use the data validation options. By default, the checkbox values are ‘TRUE’ and ‘FALSE’, but you can change them to whatever you want, like ‘YES’ and ‘NO’.

  1. 1. Select the cell where you want the checkbox and go to Data > Data Validation.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Go to Data Validation
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Go to Data Validation
  1. 2. You will see the default data validation options.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Data Validation Options
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Data Validation Options
  1. 3. For ‘Criteria’, select the ‘Checkbox’ option.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Select Checkbox
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Select Checkbox
  1. 4. Check the option to “Use custom cell values”, then type in the new values.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Use Custom Cell Values
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Use Custom Cell Values
  1. 5. As you can see, the new value for the unchecked checkbox is ‘NO’.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets New Unchecked Value
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - New Unchecked Value
  1. 6. When checked, the cell’s new value is ‘YES’.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets New Checked Value
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - New Checked Value

How to Conditionally Format a Checkbox in Google Sheets?

To use conditional formatting on checkboxes, select the cells with the checkboxes and go to Format > Conditional formatting. Set up the conditions in the sidebar, under Criteria > Format cells if, then choose the format you want to apply under those conditions.

Imagine you have created a to-do list in Google Sheets, using checkboxes to mark tasks as complete. This helps you keep track of tasks, but you want to strike through complete items or change their color so you can focus on what remains to be done. Let’s see how you can do that using conditional formatting.

  1. 1. Select the cells containing the tasks.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Select Cells With Tasks
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Select Cells With Tasks
  1. 2. Go to Format > Conditional formatting.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Go to Conditional Formatting
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Go to Conditional Formatting
  1. 3. Under ‘Format rules’, click on the ‘Format cells if…’ drop-down menu and select “Custom formula is”. For this example, I will use the checkbox status as the condition, so I need to use the following formula: “=$B2”.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Add Custom Formula
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Add Custom Formula
  1. 4. Choose the ‘Formatting style’ you want to apply. For this example, I have selected a green background color and the text strikethrough option.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Select Formatting Options
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Select Formatting Options
  1. 5. That’s it. As soon as items are checked, the chosen format is applied.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Conditionally Formatted To Do List
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Conditionally Formatted To-Do List
How to Use Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets
How to Use Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets?

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How to Use Checkbox Values in Formulas in Google Sheets?

Let’s say that in addition to the conditional formatting applied in the previous section, you also want to see a count of completed tasks. Let’s see how you can do this using the COUNTIF function.

  1. 1. In an empty cell, type in the COUNTIF formula.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Add COUNTIF Function
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Add COUNTIF Function
  1. 2. For the ‘range’, select the cells containing the checkboxes.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Select Range
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Select Range
  1. 3. For the criterion, type the boolean value ‘TRUE’ without quotation marks.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Select Criterion
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Select Criterion
  1. 4. Press ‘Enter’ to see the count of completed tasks.
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Completed Task Count
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Completed Task Count

How to Copy a Checkbox in Google Sheets?

Cells containing checkboxes can be copied just like any other cell: through the ‘Edit’ menu or using shortcuts: Cmd + C (Mac) or Ctrl + C (Windows). You can also copy them by grabbing the fill handle and dragging it in the direction you want.

How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets Copy Checkbox
How to Add a Checkbox in Google Sheets - Copy Checkbox

How to Automate Your Data Input on Top of Google Sheets?

Layer is an add-on that equips you with the tools to increase efficiency and data quality in your processes on top of Google Sheets. Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds. See how it works.

Using Layer, you can:

  • Share & Collaborate: Automate your data collection and validation through user controls.
  • Automate & Schedule: Schedule recurring data collection and distribution tasks.
  • Integrate & Sync: Connect to your tech stack and sync all your data in one place.
  • Visualize & Report: Generate and share reports with real-time data and actionable decisions.

Limited Time Offer: Install the Layer Google Sheets Add-On today and Get Free Access to all the paid features, so you can start managing, automating, and scaling your processes on top of Google Sheets!

Conclusion

Adding checkboxes to your Google Sheets is easy, and you know how to do it using two different methods. You also know how to change the checked and unchecked values from the default TRUE/FALSE by adding them via ‘Data validation.

More importantly, you know you can combine checkboxes with other tools and functions and use their values as triggers for other actions. For example, you know how to use conditional formatting to change the color of the cells or strikethrough text based on checkbox values.

Additionally, you also know how to combine checkboxes with formulas, such as using the COUNTIF function to count checked items in a list.

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Get Started With Layer Today!

Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds.

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Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Dec 21 2022, Updated Dec 20 2022