Tableau Action Filters

In Tableau, action filters help to send information from one sheet to another or a hyperlink. When the user hovers, clicks or selects anything on one sheet, it will show the related information on the other sheet. It is very helpful to pass the data between sheets or dashboards. This article explains how to create and use the Tableau action filters with an example.

We will use a Pie chart and a Side-by-Side Bar chart to demonstrate the Tableau action filters. For these charts, we used the Sample Superstore Excel sheet. Please visit the Excel Source article to understand the Data Source.

Tableau Action Filters

To create a pie chart, please change the Marks type from Automatic to the pie, add Category Dimension to Color, and Sales Measure to the Size and Angle shelf. Add the Sales and Category fields to the Label shelf to show the data labels. We consider this pie chart to be the Tableau Action Filters source sheet.

To create a Side-by-Side Bar chart, drag and drop the Sales Measure to the Rows shelf and Category and Sub-Category dimensions to the Columns shelf. To show the data labels and add colors, drag Category to the color shelf and click the T button in the toolbar. For the remaining charts in Tableau, please click here.

Use the Tableau Worksheet menu to create the action filters and choose the Actions option. Otherwise, use the Ctrl + Shift + A shortcut. 

Use the Tableau Worksheet menu to create the action filters

It opens the following Action window, and it is the place where we can create, edit, and remove all kinds of filters. Currently, there are no existing action filters. The radio buttons help to decide whether this filter is for the complete workbook or this particular sheet.

Click the Add Action button beside the down arrow to create a new one. Tableau has six action filters to choose from: Filter, Highlight, Go to URL, Go To Sheet, Change Parameter, and Change Set Values. Let me choose the filter option from the drop-down menu for this example. 

  1. Filter: It filters or shows the data related to the selected marks.
  2. Highlight: It highlights the selected marks data and lightens the remaining.
  3. Go to URL: Creates a hyperlink for the external websites.
  4. Go To Sheet: Navigate from one sheet to another.
  5. Change Parameter: It helps to replace or change the parameter values.
  6. Change Set Values: It helps to change the set values.
Use add action button to create Tableau Filters

Action filter configuration

It opens another Tableau window called the Add Filter action. It’s the place where the action filter configuration happens.

Name

Click the down arrow beside the Insert option to choose the available Dimension or Measure from the drop-down list as the Tableau Action Filter name. For now, let me leave it as the default name, i.e., Filter1.

Source Sheets

By default, it selects the current Data Source. If not, please select the Data Source from the list using the down arrow. For us, it is Sample – Superstore, which is automatically selected.

Please checkmark the Source sheet to perform the Tableau Action Filters and uncheck the remaining sheets. In this example, we use the Pie Chart as the Source sheet.

Target Sheets

Please use the down arrow to choose the required Target Sheet to open when the Action happened on the Source Sheet, which includes the Filtering condition. In this example, we use the Side-by-Side Chart as the target sheet.

Run action on

  • Hover: When you hover over the mouse on any slice of the Pie Chart, it will jump to the Target Sheet.
  • Select: When you Click (left click) the mouse on the Pie Chart slice, it will jump to the Target Sheet with filtered content.
  • Menu: When you click the Pie Chart slice, Tableau will open the tooltip with a list of available action filters (blue hyperlinks). Clicking any filter name will jump to that particular Target Sheet.
  • Single-select only: By default, you can use the Control or Command button to select multiple Pies to filter the side-by-side Bar Chart. However, if you checkmark this option, The Target sheet will display the result for a single slice.

Clearing the selection will

  • Keep filtered values: The Tableau Action and Target Sheet records will depend on the selection of Source Sheets. If the user selects nothing, the Target Sheet (Bar Chart) displays all the Category records.
  • Show all values: It will show all the values irrespective of the selection. Suppose you select the Run action as the Hover and choose Show all values. When the user hovers their mouse wrongly, it shows all the values; Otherwise, it shows the hover-only section on the Target Sheet.
  • Exclude all values: If the user selects nothing in the Pie Chart, the side-by-side Bar Chart displays an empty report. If the user chooses any category in the Pie, the bar chart displays that particular subcategory.

The significant difference between Keep filtered and Show all Values options in Tableau Action Filters are:

  1. Keep filtered values: If the user selects Office Supplies, the Bar chart displays all the Sub-Categories in the Office Supplies. Even when the user deselects the Office Supplies in the Source Sheets by clicking outside the Pie Chart, the Bar chart will display the previous Subcategory records belonging to Office Supplies. 
  2. The Show All value option shows all the Technology, Furniture, and Office Supplies Subcategories. If used, deselect the Pie chart.

Filter

  1. All fields: The action filter comes into play for all the fields.
  2. Selected fields: The action filter will work when you click this particular selected source field.

Use the Remove button to delete.

For the demonstration purpose, let me use the Pie Chart as the Source, a side-by-side Bar Chart as the target sheet, and the Run action on Select. Next, clearing of the selection will Keep filtered values, and the filter will apply to all fields. Once completed, click OK to close the Add filter action window. 

Tableau Action Filters setup

Hit OK to close the Actions window. You can select the filter and hit the Edit button to alter the existing Tableau action filter.

Hit OK to close the window

Tableau Action filters Example

Click on the Technology slice to demonstrate the Tableau action filters within the Source sheet, i.e., Pie chart.

Click the Source Pie to demonstrate the Tableau Action Filters

It will automatically go to the Bar Chart sheet and show the Sub-Categories belonging to the Technology. You can notice the new field on the Filter shelf that acts as the action filter. Please use the Control key or mouse to choose multiple slices; it will only show the Sub-Categories belonging to those slices.

Tableau Action Filters output

TIP: Under the Filters section of the Target Sheets, Click the down arrow beside Action (Category) and choose the Show Filters option. It helps you understand the internal process of the Action Filters.

To demonstrate the remaining options, let me edit the Tableau Action filter, checkmark the Single-Select only, and make clear that the selection will exclude all values option. It means when you try to select multiple pies, it won’t work. However, the action filter will work if it is a single slice.

Tableau Action Filters Single select only option

When you click the Slice, the tooltip will open with the available Action Filters. Let me click on the Office Supplies and click the Filter1 option.

Choose the hyperlink

It will automatically navigate to the Bar Chart and show the Sub-Categories belonging to the Office Supplies category. At the same time, if you open the Bar Chart without selecting the Category in the Pie Chart, it will show an Empty report.

Bar Chart preview

Within the Filters Shelf, Click the down arrow beside Action (Category) to open the following window. Use this window to check what is happening internally.

Use Filters shelf to understand the process of Tableau Action Filters

Let me click on both the Technology and Office Supplies. 

Tableau Action Filters output 1

As you can see, the side-by-side bar chart shows the Sub-Categories belonging to the Office Supplies category only. It is because we check-mark the Tableau Action Filters Single-select only option, and it will display the result for a single slice.

Tableau Action Filters single select only option output