Microsoft Pocket Excel limitations: Sometimes a Database Might be More Appropriate

by Todd Ogasawara

I frequently receive email asking questions regarding my favorite mobile platform: Microsoft Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Smartphone.
I usually answer these questions in a Q&A blog on my personal website. But, since the blogging modules on the web host I use have broken my blogs after a recent upgrade and since the information might be of interest to readers here, I thought it would be ok to respond to the question here.

Susan V. asks:

I am creating Excel Checklists using the form toolbar. The lists include a checkbox. I want to convert these files (such as saving as .csv files) so that the checkboxes still work on the PDA. Any ideas?

My Response:
Susan: I don't know what kind of PDA you are referring to.
But, I will assume it is a Microsoft Windows Mobile based Pocket PC since most people associate me with that platform.
If this is the case, you will not be able to perform that kind of function using Pocket Excel.
Pocket Excel and Pocket Word are very small subsets of the full Microsoft Office applications you use on the PC.
Many functions are missing in the Pocket versions.
There are some third party spreadsheets for the Pocket PC that you can look at to learn if they provide the functionality you want.
You can find a list of these third party spreadsheets a Pocket Excel QuickFAQs page I maintain at:

MobileViews QuickFAQs: Excel

I also maintain a page of QuickFAQs that covers common desktop applications and their Pocket PC analogs (when available) at:

MobileViews: Where Is It for the Pocket PC QuickFAQs?

Is a spreadsheet the appropriate application?
I once heard a Microsoft Excel product manager joke that
Excel is the most widely used database in the world.
Excel is so powerful and widely available that many many people use it as a flat-file database when, perhaps, an actual database application may be more appropriate.
Looking at the brief description of your problem,
I wonder if this might be the case here too?
If so, you might want to refer to a blog I wrote here a while ago titled:

Pocket PC Access Database Alternatives (Missing Apps Part II)

Here are two specifc Pocket PC applications that may be able to deliver what you want.
These two are always in any Top 10 Pocket PC applications list I write:

  • DDH Software HanDBase
    HanDBase is a simple database application I use nearly everyday on my Pocket PC.
    I wrote some how-to articles about HanDBase years ago.
    They still have information value today.
    You can find these articles listed at:

    Pocket PC How-To Articles

  • Ilium Software ListPro
    ListPro has been part of my mobile toolkit since the old Handheld PC era.
    It does one thing and does it extremely well: Maintain lists.

Have some favorite productivity apps for the Microsoft Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smartphone? Let us know here.