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Copy/Paste Text from Tableau to the Clipboard: A Quick Tableau Hack

If you’ve ever tried to copy/paste a line of text from a Tableau visualization, you’ve probably discovered that Tableau renders all text in visualizations as images. Even if you set “text” as the visualization type, it will still render as an image of the text that cannot be copied to the clipboard.

If you want your users to be able to copy a line of text – or even a small handful of text values –there’s a workaround you can build that allows them to do so. Because the titles of workbooks are rendered as text that can be copy/pasted, we can allow the user to select one comment at a time and copy paste from a separate location. It’s not an ideal solution by any means – and you can vote up an improved text feature request here [find link] – but it might work as a stopgap measure.

  1. Create a new worksheet and drag the field you would like to copy/paste (e.g. “Comment”) to Rows. If your users will be selecting a numeric value, you can construct a contextual phrase by concatenating a few values in a calculated field:
    "The value on "+STR([Date])+" was "+STR([Value])
  2. Drag the new workbook onto the dashboard with the primary visualization and edit the title of your new view:
    • Insert>[Comment]
    • This should now say “All”
  3. Add a new dashboard actions by going to Dashboard>Actions. This will allow users to select a single comment and have the text show up in the title of your new workbook.
    • Add Action>Filter
    • Source sheet: Your original visualization
    • Target Sheets: Your new workbook
    • Run on: Select
    • Clearing will: Exclude all values
    • The title should now say “None”
  4. Test your dashboard to see that the action works. When you select a value from your source sheet, the title should change to the text value you have selected.
  5. Now hide the data in the underlying file so that only the title is visible.
    • Uncheck “show header”
    • Under Format: remove shading, lines, and turn text white
    • Resize window to fit the space allotted
  6. Add instructions to make this action clear to your users (e.g. “select a value above to copy/paste text from here)



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