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7 handy Metabase features you may not know about

Apr 30, 2021 by The Metabase Team

Metabase’s interface tries to stay out of your way to help bring your data to the forefront. This laid-back approach means that sometimes features can take time to discover, so we put together a list of some features you may not be taking advantage of yet.

1. Alerts: get notified when a metric hits a certain number

Some people miss the menu in the bottom right corner of a question (figure 1):

<em>Fig. 1</em>. Click on the bell in the bottom right of a question to set up an alert.
Fig. 1. Click on the bell in the bottom right of a question to set up an alert.

They don’t click on the bell, so they never figure out that you can set up a question to send you an email or Slack message based on:

<em>Fig. 2</em>. The wide world of alerts.
Fig. 2. The wide world of alerts.

You can schedule the question to run hourly, daily, or weekly. If the results meet your criteria, Metabase will send you an email or Slack message letting you know.

<em>Fig. 3</em>. Options for setting up an alert.
Fig. 3. Options for setting up an alert.

Once you’ve set up your alerts, you can focus your attention elsewhere until your data needs your attention again.

To learn more, check out Getting alerts about questions.

2. Export results to CSV, Excel, or JSON

While we’re still in the bottom-right menu of a question, another often-overlooked feature is the ability to download the results of a question.

<em>Fig. 4</em>. Export results as CSV, XLSX, or JSON format.
Fig. 4. Export results as CSV, XLSX, or JSON format.

If you’d prefer to share the results as a question in Metabase, check out our Guide to sharing data.

3. Field Filters: create smart filter widgets

Field Filters are a special kind of variable you can include in a SQL query that allows Metabase to create filters that “know” about the data in the column. What this means in practice is that you can do things like create a filter with a date picker, or a dropdown menu of pre-populated options. They take a bit to get the hang of, which is why we wrote a Learn article on Field Filters, but experienced users rely on them all the time.

<em>Fig. 5</em>. A SQL question with a field filter powering a date picker.
Fig. 5. A SQL question with a field filter powering a date picker.

4. Customize what happens when people click on a chart

<em>Fig. 6</em>. When in editing a dashboard, select <strong>Click behavior</strong>.
Fig. 6. When in editing a dashboard, select Click behavior.

You can customize the on-click behavior of a question when you add it to a dashboard. Here are your options:

<em>Fig. 7</em>. The dashboard editing interface when setting up custom click behavior.
Fig. 7. The dashboard editing interface when setting up custom click behavior.

You can even use values from the chart to parameterize the links. To learn more, check out the articles listed above, as well as our docs on Interactive dashboards.

5. Multi-step summarizations in the notebook editor

When using the notebook editor, most people stop at 1) select data, 2) filter it, and 3) summarize it. But you can keep going: adding additional stages of filtering, joining, and summarizing to get the answer you need.

<em>Fig. 8</em>. A question with two steps of summarization to find the average count of orders per month by product category.
Fig. 8. A question with two steps of summarization to find the average count of orders per month by product category.

This opens up a lot more possibilities for what you can do with the notebook editor. For more, see our article on multi-level aggregations.

6. Share and reuse bits of code with SQL snippets

You can save a bit of SQL code as a snippet and refer to it like so:

SELECT 
    product_id
FROM 
    orders 
WHERE 
    total < {{snippet: average order total}}

You can find existing snippets in the right sidebar of the SQL editor by clicking on the code icon. From there you can insert existing snippets, or create your own.

<em>Fig. 9</em>. Select the items you want to move, then you can either archive or move them in bulk.
Fig. 9. Select the items you want to move, then you can either archive or move them in bulk.

You can also highlight parts of your code to save it as a snippet. See our full article on SQL snippets.

7. Keep collections organized with drag and drop and bulk moves

You can drag and drop items from collection to collection.

<em>Fig. 10</em>. Simply drag and drop items to another collection.
Fig. 10. Simply drag and drop items to another collection.

You can also click on an item’s icon to select it, useful for when you want to move or archive a bunch of questions and dashboards all at once.

<em>Fig. 11</em>. Select the items you want to move, then you can either archive or move them in bulk.
Fig. 11. Select the items you want to move, then you can either archive or move them in bulk.

For more on collections, see our docs.