How To Create Interactive Dashboards using Actions in Tableau
Updated on 12th May, 22 276 Views

Tableau is one of the most popular suites of Business Intelligence and Data analytics tools used by various enterprises around the world. There are a number of features such as filters, measured names, in-memory data, a myriad of data sources, actions, advanced visualizations, maps, robust security, trend lines, and more that makes Tableau a better choice.

Among all types of filters, action filters are used to make your dashboards more interactive and add more information to their visualizations.

So, let’s go through the topics that we will be covering in this tutorial:

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What is a Dashboard in Tableau?

Tableau dashboard is a collection of multiple visualizations created by analyzing the data from different sources on Tableau Desktop. It is used to monitor and compare a variety of data variables all at once.

Dashboards are available in the workbook tabs at the bottom of the Tableau Desktop interface. The visualizations in the dashboard get updated whenever a new dataset of the file is added. Here, you can also add filters, actions, and other functions to create a personalized view as per your requirements.

Among these, tableau dashboard actions add an interactive element to your dashboards. So, let’s learn about them in detail and see how to implement dashboard actions in tableau.

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Why do you need ‘Actions’ in Tableau Dashboards?

Be it a simple Excel worksheet, databases like SQL Servers, or complex datasets like Amazon warehouses, converting them into charts, figures, and other visualizations makes them more understandable. Now, actions in the tableau are used to add an interactive element to these dashboards and let the user build customized dashboards.

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What are Tableau Action Filters?

Actions in Tableau are the elements that a user can add to its reports/dashboards, driven by the data from within the worksheets. This allows the user to directly interact with the visualizations and control various aspects of the data analysis.

When you select a mark on the set visualization, the applied action to that visualization changes the values in a set and creates a personalized view. There are mainly three types of actions in tableau:

  • Tableau Filter Actions: used to apply the tableau drill-down approach and filter various charts.
  • Tableau Highlight Actions: allows the user to select and value its position in other charts. Simply put, highlighted actions reduce noise and focus on the values that matter.
  • Tableau URL Actions: Links your visualization with a web page, application, journal, or another dashboard on the tableau server.

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How to Use Actions in Tableau

Creating actions in Tableau doesn’t require much of an effort if you’ve already created a dashboard. If not, you must have at least two or three visualizations to implement all three types of actions in Tableau. You can download the sample dataset from here. Now, follow these steps to create two simple visualizations in tableau: Open the Tableau Desktop and select the ‘Connect to Data’ option from the data panel on the left side of the interface.

  • Load the sample dataset which you’ve downloaded from the link mentioned above, relate the tables, and go to the worksheet(sheet1).
  • Once the data is loaded in the interface, hover onto the sheets at the bottom-left corner and add a new sheet for the Product Category Sales(PC-sales).
  • Now, drag the Category and Sales variables from the tables section and drop them in their respective rows and columns under the toolbar.
  • Following that, add a new sheet for the Product-Sub-Category Sales(PSC-sales).
  • Drop the Category variable in the column section along with the sub-category, and Sales in the row section.
  • Similarly, we’ll add more visualizations like maps to implement the tableau dashboard URL actions.
  • Now, you can either change the visuals’ formatting and add labels or move on to the next part and create an action button on Tableau.

Let’s move ahead and go through the steps to create three types of action filter tableau and make our dashboards more interactive.

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Tableau filter Actions

The filter actions are used to trigger events in one sheet and see the results in the other. So, let’s create a tableau filter action in a few steps:

  • Go to Worksheet>> Actions and then select Filter from the Add actions option.
  • Click Ok and the ‘Add Filter Action’ dialog box will appear. From here, you can select the sources and target sheets along with the trigger on which you want to run your action.
Action Filters in Tableau
  • Apply the changes and select any category in sheet1(PC-Sales).
  • As soon as you click on the category, the action will switch to the target sheet(PSC-Sales) and highlight the corresponding sub-category.
  • For instance, I’ve selected the Office supplies category in the PC-Sales figure, which triggered the action to jump onto PSC-Sales and highlight the respective Sub-category.
  • You can also choose the way of triggering your action(by either hovering or showing a menu) and the values that will be displayed by the action.
  • For example, by changing the ‘Run action’ from Select to Menu, you can change the ways your action operates and jump on to the target visualization.
  • Now, if you click on the filter1 highlighted in the box, the action will jump onto the target figure and show the corresponding values.

Tableau Highlight Actions

For highlighting the action tableau, you have to add another variable named Region. This will divide every bar of the category based on the regions and create a stacked bar chart. Apply this to both visualizations and the result would look something like this:

  • The process of creating a tableau highlight is pretty much similar to that of filter actions. Here you just have to select Highlight in place of Filter under the add actions section.
  • Now, select the source and target worksheets from the highlight action box, and apply the changes by clicking the OK button.
Tableau Highlight Action
  • Once the changes are applied, if you click on any section of the stacked bar, it will show all the details such as the Sales and region of that bar.
  • Now, hover over the target worksheet and you will see that the highlight action has been applied to the respective category.

You can also add this action to the dashboards and apply the button filter tableau to its visualizations. For demonstration, we’ve created a simple dashboard with visualizations. However, you can add more of them if you want.

Tableau Dashbaord

Now, follow the steps given below to add filters to the Tableau dashboard:

  • Go to the Dashboard>> Actions and create a new Highlight using the add actions option.
  • Do the relevant changes and apply them by clicking on the OK button.
  • Now, the action will highlight all the visualizations related to the field or the bar you’ve selected.

Tableau URL Actions

Following are the steps to create a Tableau URL Filter and apply it to the visualizations:

  • Go to the Worksheet>> Actions>> Add actions>> URL and click on OK.
  • A dialog box named ‘Add URL action’ will appear on the interface.
  • Here, you can rename the URL action, select the source sheet, and add the URL of the resulting webpage you want to open. For instance, we’ve added the Wikipedia link for the state.
  • The action will open the URL on your browser whenever you click on the state. However, the action will open the same links for every State you click on.
  • To make the URL open the exact page of the state you click on, open the URL action dialog box and remove the state name from the URL.
  • Now, click on the mark in front of the mentioned URL and select the State variable from the drop-down menu.
  • This will create a tableau hyperlink that will keep on changing the URL based on the State you click on.

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How to Add Tableau Actions in Dashboard?

You can also add actions to the dashboards and apply the button filter tableau on its visualizations. For demonstration, we’ve created a simple dashboard with visualizations. However, you can add more of them if you want.

Now, follow the steps given below to add filters to the Tableau dashboard:

  • Go to the Dashboard>> Actions and create a new Highlight using the add actions option. You can choose any action of your choice, the process is pretty much the same.
  • Do the relevant changes and apply them by clicking on the OK button.
  • Now, the action will highlight all the visualizations related to the field or the bar you’ve selected.
Tableau Dashboard Actions


Tableau actions are a pretty useful tool as they show you additional details using the same visualizations. You can also apply a single action on multiple sources and targets based on the goals you want to achieve. You can even apply these button filters on Tableau dashboards and only have the target data highlighted.

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