Tableau Software FAQs

Which Tableau Product do I need?

Creating visualisations

  • Tableau Desktop (Creator license): the full licensed version of the software used to create visualisations and other content, such as dashboards and data sources.
  • Tableau Desktop Free trial version: upon registration with Tableau you can receive a 14-day trial to evaluate the Tableau Desktop software.
  • Tableau Desktop Public: free to download, acts as Tableau Creator Desktop, limited in the number of data connectors, total data size and ways of sharing.
  • Web-edit view on Tableau Server: a free but limited way to explore data a Tableau Server Site. A developer needs to create content (dashboard/workbook/data source) in a Tableau Desktop and then publish it to the Tableau Server. Special web-edit permissions must also be applied to a viewer of the content to grant the web-editing permissions or to connect to a data source and create their own visualisations. No need to download any software, all manipulations are done via the web-browser.

Wrangling with data

  • Tableau Prep: allows Tableau developers to clean and wrangle with their data from multiple data sources and produce a reusable dataflow. Tableau Prep uses Tableau’s data connectors, calculation language, user permissions and administration views.

Sharing the Tableau content with viewers

  • UofT Tableau Server: a secure portal that allows dashboards created in Tableau Desktop to be securely shared with university staff from any browser or mobile device (authenticated via UTORid). The advantage of using the UofT Tableau Server is that Tableau content creators have an ability to manage permissions to their content and share it with users who do not have Tableau Desktop.
  • Tableau Online Server: hosted by Tableau. Similar to the UofT Tableau Server but not offered or managed by UofT (no UTORid authentication possible).
  • Tableau Public Server: hosted by Tableau. Once content is published to Tableau Public it is searchable and visible to anyone via Tableau Public Gallery. Recommended to be used when planning to release Tableau content that is meant to be available publicly.
  • Tableau Reader: free to download. Limited to viewing an existing local Tableau workbook saved locally on a computer (could be used if sharing via Tableau Server is not possible).

How to install Tableau Desktop?

If you are using a managed Windows or Mac computer, please contact your IT support personnel and ask to download the Tableau Desktop application from this link:

Make sure to specify the version you would like to download. If you are planning to publish your content to the UofT Tableau Server, make sure to download the same version as the Server or lower (see How to check Tableau Server’s version?).

If you are installing Tableau Desktop on your computer for the first time, you will be asked to enter your license key. If you are installing a newer version, then the license key will be transferred to the newest version (no need to enter the key again).

Tableau allows the same license key to be installed on multiple versions of the Tableau Desktop per one computer. You can also use the same license key on up to two different computers. For more information refer to this article:

Tableau Updates

How to check Tableau Server’s version?

You can see what the version of our Tableau Server by clicking on an “i” button on the top right corner – About Tableau Server:

Do I need to update Tableau Desktop when Tableau Server is updated?

If you work with Tableau Server as:

  • Interactor – you are all set.
  • Content developer – best practice would be to update your Tableau Desktop to the version Tableau Server is currently running (see How to check Tableau Server’s version?).
  • Tableau Site Administrator – for site administration purposes you do not need to update Tableau Desktop. However, if you are publishing Tableau content (e.g., workbooks and data sources) then you should upgrade your Desktop Tableau to the same version as Tableau Server.

How to upgrade Tableau Desktop to a newer version?

  • You can either upgrade by clicking on a button within the welcome window of your current Desktop application, or by downloading it from Tableau’s website. See How to install Tableau Desktop for more information.
  • You should not be asked to enter your license key again; Tableau will transfer it on its own. Please note: the upgrade will not erase your older Tableau Desktop version.

Do I need to keep older versions of Tableau Desktop on my computer?

No, you don’t. You can uninstall all versions except for the most current one, unless you are collaborating with colleagues who are using older versions of Tableau Desktop (see Compatibility between different versions of Tableau Desktop).

Compatibility between different versions of Tableau Desktop

Tableau allows for downgrading your workbook if necessary to earlier release versions (e.g., 2018.3 to 2018.2). Please check this article to see how to downgrade your workbook:

You may need to downgrade your workbook in two cases:

  1. When publishing Tableau Desktop content to the Tableau Server which is running an older release version (e.g., Tableau Desktop version v2019.1 and Tableau Server v2018.3)
  2. When working and sharing your .twb or .twbx files locally with colleagues who have different Tableau Desktop versions:
    • A newer version of Tableau Desktop can open a workbook created with an older version.
    • An older version of Tableau Desktop can’t open a workbook created with a newer version unless it is downgraded to that older version.
  3. A workbook downloaded from Tableau Server has the same version as the version of Tableau Desktop where it was last created. However:
    • If someone else edits the workbook on the Server, the workbook is updated to the version of Tableau Server.
    • If someone downloads the workbook from Tableau Server to a newer version of Tableau Desktop and edits, saves, and publishes it back, the workbook is updated to the newer version.

Do I need to re-publish my workbooks and/or data sources when Tableau Server is upgraded?

No, Tableau Server is backwards compatible. Any workbook created in older versions of Tableau Desktop is compatible with the newer versions of the Server.

How do I access the UofT Tableau Server wirelessly and/or outside of the UofT intranet?

Connecting via a Wi-Fi internet connection or outside of the intranet

If you are located at the university and want to access Tableau Server from a laptop using a wireless connection or from outside of the university (e.g., at home) then you need to install a UTORvpn application.

Refer to this installation manual. There are two parts of the manual that you need to go through: “Installation Instructions” and “Using UTORvpn”.

Please note that you will need to run UTORvpn as an administrator to access Tableau Servers.

Tableau Mobile

Did you know that you can access our Tableau Server via a Tableau app on your smartphone?

To do so, you will need to also run UTORvpn app on your phone, since the UofT security requirements still apply. As per the Tableau Site Administration guide, all users who access secure applications such as Tableau Server outside of the university network must use UTORvpn (provided via OpenVPN app).

You can download a mobile app called OpenVPN Connect from your application store and follow these instructions for Android or iOS. Once installed and running, make sure to connect to the network by following steps here: Android, iOS.

Now you can download the Tableau Mobile app through either iOS App Store or Google Play:

  1. Make sure that the OpenVPN app on your phone is successfully connected
  2. Open up the Tableau Mobile app and Connect to Server:
    1. Prod Server:
    2. QA Server:
  3. You will be taken to the usual UTOR authentication window where you will be prompted to log in with your UTORid credentials.
  4. If you have access to multiple Tableau sites, you will be provided with an option to select the desired site.
  5. Tap Explore to see all workbooks accessible to you.

Tip: If you are a dashboard developer and want your dashboards to be viewed via the Mobile application, make sure to adjust the Desktop Layout before publishing. Here is useful information on how to Create Dashboard Layouts for Different Device Types. Please note, if you cannot find some features shown in this article, it is possible that you are not using the latest version of Tableau Desktop. To find out what is the recommended Tableau Desktop version, please see How to check Tableau Server’s version?


How to find a Tableau dashboard that I know exists on the UofT Tableau Server?

Each division, unit or team who has a Tableau Server Site has at least two dedicated Tableau Site Administrators. One of the administrator tasks is to provide access to new approved users to their site content. If you know who the Site Administrator is for the site you would like to access, please contact them directly. If you are not sure who this dashboard belongs to, contact us and our Tableau Server Administrator will try to help you find the right person.

How to off-board a Tableau Developer or a Tableau Site Administrator from my Tableau Site?

Ensure to go through the following off-boarding steps prior to the departure of the staff member who has either developed dashboards locally, created content on your UofT Tableau Site or has administered your UofT Tableau Site.

Tableau Server

  • The Tableau Site administrator has to remove the staff member’s permissions to any content on the site and remove them from the site users if necessary. If the person to be removed is a Site Administrator themselves, there must be a secondary Site Administrator who will have to perform this task and assign someone else to co-administer the site.
  • If all necessary content such as workbooks and data sources produced by the staff member has already been published to the Tableau Server Site, this content may need to have its ownership changed. A Tableau Site Administrator can change the owner of a content resource.

 Accessing locally saved Tableau content

  • Make sure that all saved workbooks that are not on the Tableau Server Site are saved somewhere accessible to the rest of the team (e.g., shared drives).

Tableau Desktop license key

  • Deactivate or transfer their Tableau Desktop license key. Contact the person who manages your Customer Portal and issues Tableau Desktop licenses (see How do I manage my Tableau license?). This person will be able to then move or deactivate Product Keys.

How to manage purchased Tableau licenses?

Whoever purchases a Tableau Desktop or Prep license will be given access to a Tableau Customer Portal. On the portal you can do some important tasks such as assigning & re-assigning Tableau Product Keys, opening support cases with Tableau and managing license renewals and invoices.

“Maintenance expires in 3 days”: what to do when Tableau Desktop gives me this warning?

If your maintenance fee is paid give Tableau 2-3 days to register it on their end. You could manually refresh the maintenance date on a product key to stop receiving this message:

If this is not resolved, please contact the person responsible for the purchase of your Tableau license. See How do I manage my Tableau license?

You can find more troubleshooting information on Tableau Online Help.