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Conditional Formatting with Checkboxes

The most satisfying thing you can do in a spreadsheet

Checkboxes are incredibly satisfying.

You see one, you want to click it.

And to make them do something useful…well, what more could you want from your spreadsheet?

What’s going on here?

(I’ve got a video at the end of the article where we use this simple concept in a practical project…👇)

The Checkbox

We have a checkbox, which is a native feature in Google Sheets. Add one by selecting Data → Data validation and then selecting Checkbox under the criteria

That gives us the checkbox. Now we just need to make something meaningful happen when we click it.

Conditional Formatting

There are loads of things we can do with conditional formatting. Open the menu from Format → Conditional formatting.

conditional formatting menu

Under Format rules we want a custom formula. In our case, we simply want something to happen when the checkbox is clicked.

(What a checkbox actually is…)

A checkbox is really just holding a TRUE or FALSE value. Visually it looks like a check, but if you look at the formula bar, it just says FALSE when not checked and TRUE when checked.

pic of non-checked checkbox

So, if our conditional formula custom criteria simply says =C4 then it will execute if the value in C4 is TRUE and it won’t do anything while it remains FALSE.

pic of checkbox with conditional formatting applied

I’ve added conditional formatting to the cells so that the text color and cell formatting changes when the checkbox is checked.

Now it looks like words are appearing (they’re just changing from white font color to orange) and the “Watch here” cell is adding a background of orange as well as strike-through and italics to the text.

Practical Uses

This is the root of a few techniques I use in my latest video project. I re-create a Travel Checklist that went viral recently on TikTok.

There are a couple added features in my spreadsheet that use conditional formatting like this to upgrade the original spreadsheet’s concept.

Check it out below 👇

Thank you so much!

It means a lot that you’ve read this, and I hope it’s informed and/or entertained you for a few moments today!

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