Going Off Grid – The secret way to hide something on a Tableau Dashboard

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to hide something on a Tableau Dashboard?  Something you, the designer wanted to see, but not something the end-user of the published dashboard should see.

Maybe it’s a set of instructions to remind yourself of how quick filters and parameters should be set prior to publishing.  Maybe it’s a drop down control for your action filter(s) so you can see what actions have been triggered and easily reset the action.  Maybe it’s an email message from the private account of a government official that you want to keep from the prying eyes of the public.

Whatever the case, there is a way!

The secret place to hide things on a Tableau DashboardClick to enlarge image

You can place any dashboard item just off the dashboard (in a fixed size dashboard) and when it’s published, the end-user will never see it.

How to get the dashboard item to the hidden place

The only trick is how to get something off the dashboard.  If you drag it there you get nothing.  Or if it was already on the dashboard, dragging it off is the same thing as removing it.

So instead, place it on the “real dashboard” as a floating item.  Then use the Position controls in the lower left to set the X and Y coordinates to position it off the dashboard.

Position Controls


The end result is a published dashboard that hides all the elements that were off the dashboard.

I sure wish I’d known this technique when I developed the Choose Your Own Adventure or BlackJack! dashboards.  Then, I created a secondary dashboard with everything on it and a special action filter to “reset” the dashboard as I designed and tested.  Instead, I could have just hidden the action filters off-grid and reset as desired.

Check out the dashboard in action:

All the hidden items I added to the dashboard are there, but in order to see all my secrets you’ll have to download the workbook and open it in Desktop…

Like this tip? Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear your feedback. Also look for the Share and Subscribe links if you’d like to keep up with the tips and share the knowledge! Until next time…

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33 Responses so far.

  1. Raj says:

    That’s Awesome Trick Josh!!! Thanks for sharing!!! 🙂

  2. Steve Fenn says:

    Great hack!

    This should be immensely useful for all of us that develop dashboard which will updated by others later on. Should be great for dashboards I’ll always own that require tinkering with filters and other properties every time the data gets updated.

  3. Great tip, thanks for sharing, Joshua.
    And thanks for finally solving the mystery of dynamic parameters, in 2 easy steps 🙂

  4. Used this trick today – excellent piece of work!

  5. Great tip Joshua! I usually put mine right at the edge and then delete before publishing. Never thought to move them completely off and leave them. Old dog, new trick.


    • Joshua Milligan says:

      Thanks Shawn! I remember hearing someone say you could move things off the dashboard – it took me a bit to figure out how, but once I did I couldn’t stop thinking of all the possibilities!

  6. George says:

    I like the idea. As a side note, the comments are visable to people opening the workbook with the free tableau reader.

  7. Edward M says:

    Thank you for all your work Josh. Your secrets are really valuable in improving my Tableau skills.

    I am trying to implement the idea in this article into a dashboard of my own button I cannot get Action(ID) to appear in the list of available quick filters.

    Is there an option somewhere I need to select.

    The knowledgebase gave no further answers.

    I await the release Tableau Star Trek 2 with excitement ;).

    All the best,


    • Joshua Milligan says:

      You should be able to add an action from a view where it is being used as a filter. Check the target sheets and see if you can get it from their drop down options.

  8. Nicole Le Prohn says:

    This is amazing and so cool. I’ve often wished I could do ‘comments’ on a dashboard similar to Word to remind myself of things. This is a much better solution than what I end up doing …which is printing and making notes on the page and then hoping I can find it again.

  9. Rich Lopez says:

    This appears not to work for Dashboards that have a larger size. For example, I have a dashboard that is 1700 by 1100 (Tabloid). I cannot scroll over far enough to see the items that are “off” the dashboard. Any thoughts?

  10. Rick V says:

    Joshua, I need something simpilar. We have a standard template for customers but they don’t all the the same info. For example, NYC, needs their data by Borough, but Orlando does not. What we want to do is if the sheet on the dashboard is blank or null we want it hidden from the dashboard. Do you know if this can be done and if so how it is done?

    • benmelek_admin says:

      Possibly. By sheet, are you talking about a visualization? Or something else? I would definitely recommend looking into user or group filtering and see if that applies to your case. Otherwise, feel free to reach out with details and I’d be happy to take a look!

  11. This is a great hack. Is there a way I can publish the dashboard with All being hidden. I have a massive dataset and I’d like to limit the view.

  12. Stephen Berndt says:

    Thank you for this! A really nice application of this is for embedding in web applications where you might want to still pass the filter data out to the external UI instead of leaving it to clutter up the dashboard itself. It was a huge time saver for us and really improved our load times.

  13. Angela Gresham says:

    Hooray! I have a large customer that does not have Tableau but likes the dashboards. We’ve been cleaning up the 264 pages for a PDF presentation. Did not want to see filters, at all, or navigation on the final printed reports.
    This works beautifully!!

    Now to automate the PDF file creation….

  14. […] Milligan has covered the how – float, then drag to the edges and use x/y menus in the layout pane to push it all the way […]

  15. sach says:

    Hey, Recently i embedded Tableau report into react application. i dont want show all tools in toolbar. just want to show only download option.can any one help me in this issue.

    • Joshua Milligan says:

      Hi sach,

      One option is to use the embed-code JavaScript API to remove the toolbar completely and then provide a URL in your dashboard or report that triggers the download.

  16. Nika says:

    This is an AWESOME tip, thank you! Do you think you could update this to show that the position controls are now in the top left of the Layout pane?

    • Joshua Milligan says:


      Thank you! It’s a bit hard to keep everything up-to-date with UI changes, but I’ll definitely look into updating these images.

  17. Michael Davidson says:

    I have used the button techniques and it works, but I am having trouble hiding the drop-down controls when, in Tableau Reader, I click on the different buttons. If you can help me understand how to hide them, I’d greatly appreciate it..

    I am not quite understanding how to hide the drop-down controls?


  18. Wale says:

    And why didn’t I think of that before? Brilliant!!

  19. Using Tableau Server, users will see an alert menu option which, when selected, will allow users to choose a threshold level on a selected measure to receive an email.

  20. Tableau provides flexible interactivity in your dashboards beyond the default tooltipsthat appear when you hover your mouse over worksheet marks.

  21. ashapriya says:

    I found your blog while searching for the updates, I am happy to be here. Very useful content and also easily understandable providing.. Believe me I did wrote an post about tutorials for beginners with reference of your blog.

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