Use a workbook in Explore mode

Explore mode provides an isolated environment that allows you to perform unrestricted ad hoc analysis without affecting saved workbook versions. Sigma recommends using Explore mode when you need quick answers to specific business questions, but you don’t need to retain the analysis for future use or sharing. You can merge workbook changes from Explore mode to Edit mode. This is very useful when you edit in Explore mode and later wish you could save the changes in the workbook.


  • The version of Explore mode described in this document is accessible only if Live Edit is enabled for your organization.
  • Access to Explore mode requires the following:

Access Explore mode

You can access Explore mode from either View or Edit modes. For more information about the modes see Workbook modes overview: view, explore, edit.

Access Explore mode from View mode

When you initially open a published version of a workbook, the “Published” version or any tagged version, the workbook opens in View mode. You can quickly switch to Explore mode using the Explore toggle in the top header bar.

  1. Ensure that the workbook is published.

  2. In the workbook title bar, click the Explore toggle. 

    The workbook enters Explore mode.

Access Explore mode from View mode for Viewers

When you have a Viewer license, your workbook activities are more limited than if you have access to Explore mode. By default Viewers do not have access to the Explore toggle. For more information see Workbook modes overview: View, Explore, Edit.

By default Sigma provides a button so you can request a license upgrade from your Admin. 

  1. Click the Request explore access button at the top right of the title bar.  access-explore-mode-button.png
    A modal opens.
  2. Enter a note for your Admin.
  3. Click Send request.
  4. Your Admin receives an email requesting your license upgrade.

Tip: An Admin can disable this button, so if you don't see it then check with them. For more information see License upgrade requests.

Access Explore mode from Edit mode

Explore mode is only available for the published versions of a workbook. If the workbook version is a draft, the workbook is in Edit mode.  You can change the version from a draft to the published version, or any tagged version,.

  1. In the workbook title bar, click Draft.

  2. Select the Published version, or any tagged version.


    The selected version opens in View mode, and displays the Explore toggle.

  3. In the workbook header, click the Explore toggle.
    The workbook enters Explore mode.

Use Explore mode

Explore the workbook

You can perform ad hoc analysis in Explore mode. Like Edit mode, this includes the following functionality:

  • Create, modify, and delete content such as pages and elements 
  • Edit the workbook layout
  • View, filter, and sort underlying data
  • View and change the data source of a workbook or element
  • View the workbook lineage
  • View custom SQL logic
  • Export workbook pages or element data


For a complete list of Explore mode functionality, see the "Workbook Accessibility Comparison" table in Workbook modes overview: view, explore, edit.

Discard Explore mode changes

When you modify a workbook in Explore mode, a Reset button appears in the workbook header. To discard all changes and return the workbook to its published state, click Reset.



You can also reverse individual actions by clicking Undo in the toolbar.

Create a link to share the Explore mode workbook

You can create a shareable URL that links to the explored workbook. You can use the URL to return to your ad hoc analysis at a later time, or you can share it with others so they can view your changes or further explore the workbook.

  1. In the title bar, click the workbook menu and select Share
    The Share workbook modal opens. For sharing a link, you don't need to make a list at the top of the modal. 
  2. At the bottom of the modal, toggle Allow general sharing by link to on.
  3. Set the permission level for the link recipients. 
  4. Click Copy.
  5. Send the link to your colleagues.
  6. When a recipient clicks the shareable URL, the workbook opens in View mode and includes the analysis you performed in Explore mode. The recipient can enable Explore mode to continue the analysis where you left off, or they can click Reset in the workbook header to discard your changes and view the workbook in its published state.

Merge Explore mode changes into a published workbook

You can merge workbook changes from Explore mode to Edit mode in a workbook that was previously published.

  1. Make your changes in Explore mode.

  2. Click Edit to enter Edit mode.
    The Apply explored changes modal appears, listing all the changes you made in Explore mode.

  3. Click Apply to draft.

    The workbook changes to become a draft in Edit mode.

  4. Continue editing and publish the workbook as needed.

Save Explore mode changes as a new workbook

If you don't want to save Explore mode changes to the same workbook,  you can save it as a new workbook.


When you save your analysis as a new workbook, Sigma creates a dissociated copy that doesn’t retain the original workbook’s permissions, export schedules, or version history. Ongoing changes saved in one workbook are not reflected in the other.

  1. In the title bar, click the workbook menu and select Save as. The Save a Copy modal opens.
  2. In the Save a Copy modal:
    1. (Optional) Enter a new name for the workbook.
    2. Select the document destination. Sigma lists your various folders, and you can create a new folder for the document. 
    3. Click Save.

Copy and paste elements from Explore mode to an Edit mode draft

You can also retain individual elements from your ad hoc analysis using the copy and paste functionality. For example, you created a new element in Explore mode and want to save it in the open workbook’s draft version for Live Edit collaboration. You can copy the element in Explore mode, click Edit to change the workbook to Edit mode, then paste it to the draft version. For more information see Copy and paste elements.


Important: When a workbook enters Edit mode, and you choose not to merge changes, Sigma discards any previous changes made while in Explore mode. If you need to copy and paste multiple elements, use the merge option, or open Edit mode in a different browser tab so you can return to the workbook that is in Explore mode.