How to Change the Primary Field in Airtable

Airtable has become increasingly popular recently – and for good reason. It’s a smart tool that enables businesses and organizations to manage various operations and information with ease. It also gives users the ability to work on a spreadsheet with a wider variety of rich functions compared to Google Sheets.

How to Change the Primary Field in Airtable

If you’ve been using Airtable for a while, you might have noticed that the primary field doesn’t change. But is there an option to edit it? You’ll find out in this article, so keep reading.

What Is the Primary Column in Airtable?

Those familiar with Airtable probably know something about the primary columns. But what does the term entail? A primary column, or a primary field, is the first column in the Airtable spreadsheet, representing data or records. If users want to connect two tables, the name of the primary field will appear to stand for information in the sheet.

For example, a primary field can show a user’s first name if they import a CSV file to Airtable.

Generally speaking, primary columns are text-based but can also contain dates, numbers, formulas, auto numbers, etc. Remember that these fields won’t support attachments, rollups, checkboxes, etc.

While it’s possible to move and delete other columns, that isn’t the case with the primary field.

How to Change Your Primary Field in Airtable?

As you’ve learned, the primary field denotes the data in the table. So if you don’t like its name, can you simply move another field up to make it a primary column? Unfortunately, that isn’t possible.

However, you can move the data to another column and choose another name to represent it. Doing so isn’t that difficult, provided you follow the process carefully:

  1. Open Airtable.
  2. You’ll see a spreadsheet and primary column. Tap on the “+” button on the right of the columns.
  3. Choose the field type. Note that most users prefer to opt for “Single line text.”
  4. Name this new field how you want.
  5. Select all data from the primary column.
  6. Right-click to copy.
  7. Head over to the newly created column, right-click on the first cell below the field name to paste.

The newly made column will now contain data from the primary field. However, it’ll be named the way you wanted.

How Can I Customize the Primary Field?

Although it isn’t possible to delete the primary field, you can still customize it. For example, did you know that Airtable lets its users adjust this column by changing its main function? Instead of being text-based, this field can contain dates, numbers, etc. If you’ve been looking for a solution to help you change the format of the primary field, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open Airtable.
  2. Click on the downward pointing arrow on the right of the primary field name.
  3. Tap on the “Customize field tab.” It’s most likely the first option.
  4. You’ll see a bluish tab with the field type. Press the downward pointing arrow next to it.
  5. Select the new field type.
  6. Finish by hitting the “Save” button.

Let’s say your primary field was previously text-based. If you’ve updated it to “date,” then the column will now show the date format when you hit the cell below the name. This neat feature enables users to write various kinds of data more efficiently.

Remember that the primary field only supports those functions you could select. You can’t choose attachments, rollups, count fields, etc.

How Can I Delete Fields in Airtable?

If your Airtable spreadsheet contains unnecessary data, there’s an easy way to delete such fields. Note that Airtable doesn’t allow users to remove the primary field. To remove other fields, do the following:

  1. Open Airtable.
  2. Locate the field which you want to delete.
  3. Click on the downward pointing arrow on the right of the field.
  4. Scroll down to “Delete field.”

That’s it! You’ve removed the redundant field from your Airtable spreadsheet. It won’t clutter your sheet anymore, and managing the rest of the columns will be more efficient.

But what if you need to delete multiple fields? For example, you’ve imported a spreadsheet with over 100 columns and need to remove half of the fields. Is there a way to do that?

Unfortunately, for the time being, it isn’t possible to perform this function on multiple fields. Even if you manage to select all fields you want to remove, they’ll deselect on their own once you try to delete them.

Airtable is aware that this is an issue for many users, so they might do something about it in the near future.

How Do You Move Fields in Airtable?

By now, you already know you can’t move the primary field in Airtable. Does that mean you can’t move other fields, too? Fortunately, that’s not the case. You can easily move all other fields if you follow the steps below:

  1. Launch Airtable.
  2. Locate the field you’d like to move.
  3. Click on it and drag it to where you want it to stay.
  4. Drop the field when you’re ready.

If you need to move multiple records, here’s how you’ll do it:

  1. Tap on the number next to the first cell.
  2. Press and hold “Shift” on your keyboard and select the number of the last cell.
  3. Drag those cells and drop them where you want.

It’s worth mentioning that some Airtable users have issues with this function. Namely, it doesn’t work with all browsers. For example, you might be able to move the cells from Safari on your iPhone but not from Chrome on your computer. If that happens, try with a different browser. It’ll most likely be a problem with the selected browser itself.

Additional FAQs

Is there anything we haven’t covered regarding Airtable fields? If so, then read the next section to find answers to the most popular questions.

1. What Are Fields in an Airtable Table?

All Airtable spreadsheets contain fields or columns, the basic ones being “Name,” “Notes,” and “Attachment.” These fields contain relevant information that helps you organize and manage your business.

Each of the fields can be of a different type, determining the kind of information users can write there. For example, you can select the “Single line tab” option for a shorter text. Most people utilize this function to write names. Moreover, you can select the “Notes” tab for longer, valuable data.

If you need to add some attached documents to your spreadsheet, simply upload them to the “Attachment” field.

Other field types are dates, checkbox, single select, multiple select, URL, rating, numbers, and currencies.

2. Can You Use a Formula in Primary Field?

While there’s some type of information the primary field doesn’t support, a formula isn’t one of them. That said, users can use formulas in the primary field to compile records from other fields and store them under one name.

Remember that learning formulas takes practice, especially if your goal is using complex IF formulas with multiple lines. While they might look intimidating, the trick is to make them as simple as possible.

Think about what you want to accomplish with a formula and write down the command on a piece of paper for reference. Then, try to break the command into different sections that’ll enable you to create a formula.

3. What Is Grid View in Airtable?

Airtable offers different types of views, including a grid view, the default view kind. The grid view shows rows and columns, or records and fields clearly, enabling users to see everything at a glance. With such a view, it’s even possible to copy new information from another similar program.

Besides the grid view, there are other types as well. A calendar view is useful when users need a clean display of all events. A gallery view is usually used for images, while a Kanban view enables users to see their tasks as large cards.

Airtable users can try out all of these views to determine which type suits the needs of their business the most.

4. Does the Primary Key Field Need to Be the First Field in a Table?

When it comes to Airtable, the primary field is always the first field in any table.

5. Can You Link Between Bases in Airtable?

When you launch Airtable, you might notice different icons, each of them representing one base. These bases contain valuable information for managing and organizing business or other daily tasks. With the Airtable Sync option, users can sync data from two different bases.

Airtable Made Easy

As a tool packed with numerous features, Airtable makes organizing various tasks more manageable. For a better display of records, each column can have a particular name. Users can also choose the specific field type. While it still isn’t possible to remove the primary field, there are ways to move data from it to other fields or change its type. Simply follow the steps we’ve outlined here, and you won’t have any issues.

Have you tried Airtable yet? Which functions do you find the most useful? Let us know in the comments section below.

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