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15 min read

Zapier Tables: A better way to store (and use) your data

By Krystina Martinez · March 10, 2023
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It's important to pick the right tool for the job, whether it's an actual tool to make a repair or the apps we use at work. Sometimes you can get by with a workaround, but it often requires more effort than necessary to achieve the desired results.  

The same is true for how we manage our business-critical data. Spreadsheets and databases are the tried-and-true tools for storing information but can be hit-or-miss when you need to move that data to other tools. They're not built for automation, so when using no-code tools like Zapier, workarounds are still required for those automated workflows—we call them Zaps—to function accurately.

That's why Zapier decided to build the right tool for the job, no hacks necessary. Zapier Tables—currently in beta—gives you more control over moving and managing data that powers your Zaps.

Zapier is the leader in no-code automation—integrating with 5,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more.

What you'll find in this guide:

What is Zapier Tables?

Zapier Tables is a no-code database tool that allows you to store, edit, share, and automate data—in one place.  

Zapier Tables lets you create Zaps from any table. 

Your data has to move quickly and accurately so you can keep up with the ever-changing pace of business. An automation-focused tool, Zapier Tables makes it easier for your automated processes to move your data where you need it—no hacking necessary.

But how is Zapier Tables different from other spreadsheet and database tools? 

  • Automation is at the forefront. You can create Zaps directly from Tables and see your connected Zaps front and center. Your data flow will no longer be a mystery.

  • Keeps automated workflows (and tables) secure. You can control team permission levels for Tables and Zaps, so you can protect your data and workflows. Tables will also warn you if you're about to make a change that affects other Zaps.

  • More automation opportunities to streamline processes. Tables unlocks additional ways to set up Zaps, from approval buttons to re-triggering Zaps on existing records, so you have more ways to move your work forward, faster.  

Your Zapier plan will determine the number of fields and records you can have in a table and the number of tables you can create. Learn more about plan-related limits in Zapier Tables.

When should I use Tables?

We're not suggesting that Zapier Tables replace your current spreadsheet or database apps. We want you to use the best tools for the tasks you need to accomplish and move your business forward. 

If you need to make elaborate charts and graphs, Tables isn't for you. However, if you have a Zap (or several) that relies heavily on data from a spreadsheet, Zapier Tables may be a good contender. 

Signs you should use Zapier Tables:

  • You have a process that requires human approval. Computers can make a lot of decisions, but some are best left to humans. You can use Tables to build approval steps within your Zaps, so your automation has a human touch for processes like approving proposals, expenses, and more. 

  • Your workflow relies heavily on automation. Tables is loaded with automation options, from starting Zaps with a button click, watching for specific changes in your table, and even deleting records when you don't need them anymore. 

  • You need a dynamic lookup table for a Zap. Business isn't static, so your information shouldn't be either. You can use Tables to create dynamic lookups for the latest projects, clients, and other information you need to reference in business-critical Zaps.  

  • You need to consolidate and store information from various tools to use later in the same Zap. Use Tables to store seemingly-disparate information from your apps in one place. For example, you might use several apps for projects, so you can store related information for each project in a table. 

Triggers and actions for Zapier Tables

Zapier Tables gives you plenty of automation opportunities within your Zaps and expands the types of workflows you can create.

Before we continue, here are a few terms you'll need to know:

  1. Field: A field is a column in a given table. Tables supports different types of fields, which we'll go over later. 

  2. Record: A record is an entire row in a given table. 

  3. Field value: A field value is an individual value in a specific field. 

A table consists of columns called fields and rows called records. Each record includes field values, which are values associated with each field in your table.

Triggers for Zapier Tables

Tables has four triggers—events that start a Zap—available to use: 

  • Trigger Zap Button Clicked: You can add buttons within a table to trigger Zaps or even re-trigger workflows on existing records. This is a great option for sending emails or force-updating an existing record.

  • New or Updated Record: You can trigger Zaps based on new or updated records within a given table. In the Zap editor, Tables will show you past and current data within a field value whenever you test your trigger. That means you don't have to rely on workarounds to figure out if the contents of a record changed. 

  • New Record: This trigger will watch for new records only in a given table. You can use this to prevent your Zaps from accidentally running off updated records.

  • Updated Record: Conversely, this trigger will start a Zap if there is an updated record within Tables. You can also choose which updated field will trigger your Zap. 

Since Tables displays new and old data whenever you test your trigger, you can even use Filters or Pathsavailable on our paid plans—so you can further control how your Zap will continue. For example, if you want your Zap to perform a specific action on a record that has changed from "product qualified" to "closed, lost". 

Tables also provides the timestamps for records that were updated or created, giving you greater flexibility when you're building Zaps. 

Actions for Zapier Tables

Zapier Tables has six available actions—events performed once your Zap is triggered. 

  • Create Table: This action will create a new blank table. You can give your new table a name based on your trigger or a previous action. 

  • Create Record: This action will create a new record in a specific table. You can populate fields with data from previous Zap steps, or enter static text that will appear the same each time your Zap runs. 

  • Duplicate Table: This action will duplicate an existing table you've created. Zapier will copy the fields and settings from that table, so you don't have to recreate a table from scratch or duplicate data unnecessarily. This can be useful if you want to follow a template for projects, onboarding, or other recurring processes.

  • Update Record: When you pair this action with a search step, you can update existing table records with the latest information from other apps. 

  • Continue Zap Button Clicked: You can also use buttons to continue a particular Zap whenever you click on it. The Zap will run up until this action and wait until you click the continue button. For example, if you want to wait until you have a certain number of records to batch-send calendar invites. 

  • Delete Record: This action allows you to delete a record from your table. This is helpful for clearing out records you don't need anymore, especially if you use Tables as a "memory bank" for data to use in Zaps. For example, deleting records associated with a project once it's complete.

Searches for Zapier Tables

Zapier Tables also has two search actions, which allow your Zaps to check for existing information in tables you create. 

  • Find or Create Record: This action will search for an existing record that contains information in a specific field. If Zapier doesn't find a record that matches your criteria, you can choose to create a new record instead. 

  • Find Records (output as Line Items): This action will search for all records matching your criteria. Zapier will output the results as line items, which you can use for actions that support line items or even loop through a set of actions for each record. 

How to set up Tables

Now that you understand what Zapier Tables can do and how you might use it, we'll walk you through how to set it up. 

To get the most out of Zapier Tables:

  1. Create a table and add your data.

  2. Create and connect your Zaps to your new table.

When you connect Zapier Tables to your critical Zaps, you'll unlock more automation possibilities and make your data work for you. 

Create a table and add your data

Once you're logged into your Zapier account, you can access Zapier Tables from the left-hand menu or visit tables.zapier.com

There are multiple ways to create a table. (And yes, you can even use a Zap to create tables for you.) For now, we'll start with the two common methods: 

Create a table from a CSV

Click Create table from CSV file. 

Create a blank table or create a table from an existing CSV file. 

Choose a file to upload from your computer, then click Continue

Tables will let you preview how your data will look. Give your table a different name if you'd like, add a description, and click Import

Preview the data from a CSV file before importing to Zapier Tables. 

Each field in your imported table will be a text field by default, but you can convert a field to another type in your field settings. Feel free to reorder, filter, or hide fields. 

Tables can create fields and records from an imported CSV file. 

Create a table from scratch

Click on Create blank table, give your table a name and description, and then click Create.

You'll see a few empty fields to start. 

Create a blank table to customize fields yourself. 

Add and edit standard fields

You can either click the plus-button to add a new field, or edit existing fields in your table. When you add a new field, the Field Settings pane will automatically appear to the right. 

To edit the settings on an existing field, hover your cursor over a field, click the gear icon, and then select Settings

Click on a field header and select Settings from the menu. 

Beneath the Settings tab, you can customize how you want your field to behave: 

  • Name: Give your field a descriptive name.

  • Field Type: Tables has 10 field types to choose from. Many of them will be familiar to you, such as a checkbox field or a date & time field. Certain field types will also have additional settings you can customize, such as the data format. 

  • Alignment: If you're particular about text alignment in your data, you can change this as well. 

  • Icon: You can select an app icon for any app with an existing Zapier integration to use in your field header. This is a helpful visual cue to remind you and your team where data is coming from. 

Customize the field's appearance and behavior. 

How to create a dropdown field

Dropdown fields are standard for spreadsheet and database apps. Though you can create dynamic dropdowns, it often requires data manipulation tricks.

Tables makes it easier to create dynamic dropdowns, so you're always working with the latest data. 

To set up a dropdown, create a new field, give it a name, and select Dropdown as the Field Type

Select the Dropdown field type. 

Scroll down and click on the dropdown beneath Selection Source. You'll see a couple of options to pick from: 

Pick the selection source for the dropdown field. 
  • Provide Static List: You can enter comma-separated values to create a static dropdown  menu.   

  • Use Another Table: You can use another table you've created as a dynamic dropdown menu. Let's say you use a table to track active team projects from Asana with the associated project ID. In another table, you could use your project table as a dynamic dropdown so you're working with the latest info. 

To use another table in a dropdown field, select Use Another Table as the Selection Source. Then, click on Source Table to select an existing table to use. (Be sure you're giving your tables clear and descriptive names!) 

Select the source table for the dropdown field. 

Then, pick the field you want to display from that table. 

Select the field from the connected table to display in the dropdown field. 

After you click Save, you'll see your newly-created dropdown field. In the example below, the dropdown field displays the campaign name from a table I've already created. 

A connected table used as a dropdown field.

How to create buttons

While you can certainly trigger Zaps from a dropdown or a checkbox within Tables, that's not your only option. The button field type allows you to create clickable buttons that trigger or continue Zaps. You can also add multiple buttons and assign a different Zap to each one. 

To set it up, create a new field, give it a name, and select Button as the Field Type. Scroll down and click on the dropdown beneath Type of Button

Select whether you want this button to trigger or continue a Zap. 

Select the button type.

Then, give your button a label. It should be short but clearly describe what the button does.

Provide a label for the primary button.

If you select Continue Zap, you can create a second button if you'd like. This is good for processes where you need to approve or deny records. 

Provide a label for a secondary button, if applicable.

Once you save your field settings, you'll see your newly-created button. It will be grayed out until you connect it to a Zap. 

Button fields will be greyed out until it is connected to a Zap.

If you have two Continue buttons, you'll see both in the same field. 

A button field can hold two buttons if the button type continues a Zap.

Customize your table settings

Once you've created the fields you need for your table, you can choose how you want your Zaps to handle the records you enter manually. 

In the left sidebar Tables menu, click on Settings, which will open the Table Settings pane to the right. You'll see two options:

  • Pending: By default, manually-created records are set to Pending. For example, you might use this if you want to wait until a record is completely filled or want to verify that records are correct before triggering a connected Zap. You'll see a pending flag next to each record.

  • Automatically: Any new record added manually will trigger whichever Zaps are connected. You might use this if you have a Zap that fills out a complete record in a table, so you don't need a delay or manual review.

Table settings let you adjust whether manually-created can trigger Zaps automatically or be marked as pending.

Click Save

Create and connect Zaps to your table

If you've created an automated workflow with Zapier before, creating a Zap with Tables will be the same. You can create a Zap from scratch with our point-and-click editor, or you can create a Zap from within a table. 

There are two ways you can create and connect Zaps within Tables:

  1. Create a Zap from a specific field in a table.

  2. Create a Zap from within a table.

Learn more about automation and setting up Zaps in our quick-start guide.

Create a Zap from a field

To create a Zap from a specific field in your table, hover over a field header, click the gear icon, and select + Create Zap from the menu. 

Click on a field header and select Create Zap.

You can also create Zaps from the field settings pane. Within Field Settings, click on the Zaps tab, then Create Zap.

Click Create Zap from the Field Settings pane.

Tables will automatically take you to the Zap editor. 

Note: The Zap editor will automatically pre-fill your trigger or action depending on the field type when you create a Zap from a field or your field settings. For example, if you create a Zap from a button field that triggers a Zap, the Zap editor will automatically set the trigger to Trigger Zap Button Clicked.

Create a Zap from a table

You can also create a Zap from the left sidebar menu. Click on the Zaps button, then click Create Zap.

Click Create Zap from the Connected Zaps pane

You'll be prompted to select the type of Zap you want to create, such as a workflow that triggers from new or updated records. 

Select the type of Zap you want to create.

Once you click Create Zap, you'll be directed to the Zap editor. Depending on the type of Zap you choose to create, the Zap editor will pre-select the table and the trigger or action. 

Once you're in the Zap editor, you can build your Zap, test it, and make sure it's ready to use!

A Zap with a Tables trigger and action.

How to find connected Zaps in a table

Zapier Tables lets you easily view, edit, and troubleshoot connected Zaps within a specific table—and even specific fields—so your data flow isn't a mystery. 

Click on the Zaps button within a table. The Connected Zaps pane will show all Zaps linked to the table—and whether they're active or inactive.

The Connected Zaps pane will show all Zaps connected to the table.

If you want to see if any Zaps trigger or send information to a specific field in your table, hover over a field and click the gear icon. Then, select View Connected Zaps from the menu. 

Click on a field header and select View Connected Zaps from the menu.

You'll be directed to the Zaps tab, where you'll see every Zap connected to the selected field. 

Field Settings will show Zaps connected to the specified field.

If you need to edit a Zap, view any runs to a connected Zap, or just want to learn more about a connected Zap, you can do so from the Connected Zaps pane. 

Click on the three dots next to any connected Zap and select the appropriate menu option.

Edit a Zap, view Zap history, or see more details about a Zap from the Connected Zaps pane.

Learn more about tasks and your Zap History.

Zapier Tables will also warn you if you make changes to a table that will affect any Zaps—such as deleting a table or a field—and show you which Zaps it will affect. 

Zapier Tables will alert if a change to a table will affect a Zap and show the Zaps affected.

How permissions work with Zapier Tables

Warning messages are nice, but Tables lets you customize permission levels to protect your data and connected Zaps for extra insurance. 

To start, Zap permissions are separate from Tables permissions. This gives you greater flexibility in how you want to collaborate. 

For example, if you want to grant a teammate permission to help you edit, maintain, or troubleshoot a connected Zap, you don't have to grant them access to the associated table, and vice versa. 

On the other hand, if you want to share a table with your team and outside collaborators, you can customize their access level and what fields they can view and edit. They won't have access to any connected Zaps, unless you grant permission separately.

How to share a table

To share a table, click on the Share button within a specific table. 

You can also share a table without opening it. Within your list of tables, click on the three dots next to a table and select Share table

Click on the three dots next to a table and click Share table.

Within the sharing settings, you'll see who owns the table and anyone who already has access. If you're on a Team or Company plan, you'll also see permissions on an organizational level. 

Share a table with users in the same Zapier organization, or by email or link.

If you're on a Team or Company-level Zapier account, you can search for a user, team, or account to share with. Then, select a permission setting for each person, a team, or your entire company. 

For example, if you need multiple people to have the ability to edit table fields, settings, records, and create Zaps, you can assign them to a Builder role. 

Select the permission level within your team.

If you want to share a table with someone who just needs to view or edit records in a table who either doesn't have a Zapier account or isn't on the same Team or Company account, you can send a shareable link instead. 

Click Create a shareable link. Then, click on the dropdown and select whether you want to grant view-only or editor access. Editors can create, edit, and delete records in a table. 

Select the permission level for share links.

Need to get even more granular? You can lock specific fields in a table to prevent others from editing. 

Hover over a field header, click the gear icon, and select Lock

Lock a field from the field settings dropdown menu.

Ideas for using Zapier Tables

If you're looking for ways to incorporate Zapier Tables in your existing processes, here are a few to get you started: 

Approval processes

You can leave some simple decisions to computers, but for the ones requiring human critical thinking, you can use Tables to streamline the process. 

Here's an example of how this works:

  1. The Zap is triggered whenever there is a new record in a specific table. 

  2. The Zap will wait to proceed to the next action step until the Continue button is clicked. 

  3. This example table includes two buttons. If Button A is clicked, the Zap will perform one set of actions. If Button B is clicked, it will run through a different set of actions. 

Create an approval workflow in the Zap editor using Tables and Paths.

You'll need a table with a button field, and it should be a Continue Zap button. This field should have two buttons, one for approval and another for denial. 

Note: Once you create your approval buttons, if you create your Zap from the field settings, this workflow will mostly be set up! You just need to customize each path. 

Dynamic lookup tables

Ever wish you could automatically update a dropdown menu in your spreadsheet? As mentioned earlier, you can use Tables to create dynamic dropdowns from other tables. 

You can also create dynamic lookup tables, which allow you to compare data across apps. Plus, you can use your lookup table as a dropdown, so you're not only working with up-to-date information, you can also reference related app data too. 

Here's how to do it:

  1. Create one table to serve as your lookup table. You'll want one field with names or something identifiable for a dropdown menu. 

  2. Create a dropdown field in another menu and set the Selection Source to Use Another Table. Then, select your lookup table.  

  3. Create Zaps to add, update, or delete options from your lookup table. You can also create Zaps that can use your dropdown selection to search your lookup table for related information. 

Create a table that allows you to compare data across various apps.

A memory bank for Zaps

Computers can be good at remembering things, but you have to tell them to do it first. Just like computers, Zaps have short-term memory, but you can use Tables to act as a "memory bank" that allows you to:

  • Use information from one Zap for a different Zap. 

  • Preserve information at a particular point in time to use in later steps of a Zap.

  • Create a round-style workflow for a Zap. 

For example, I use Tables as a memory bank for blog articles I'm assigned. I store assignment details, Google Doc draft links and IDs, and the related record ID in Notion. I use this to power Zaps that automatically update my to-do list, add new notes to my Google Doc draft, and even send the draft link to my editor when it's ready for review. 

Create a table to store information for Zaps to access later.

That's just one example of how a Zap memory bank might work. You can do this with any critical automated processes you rely on.

Zapier Tables: Your data in motion

Your business isn't static, so your data shouldn't be either. Zapier Tables is the automation-first database solution that lets you store, edit, move, and track your data flow so you can keep up with the ever-changing pace of business. Now you can save your problem-solving skills for strategic work and leave the spreadsheet hacks behind. 

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'