How to Sort Tabs in Google Sheets with Google Apps Script

Sometimes your Google Sheet tabs can get out of hand. They can be mixed up and confusing to users. It’s often necessary to simply sort them in ascending or descending order.

In this tutorial, we will use Google Apps Script to sort tabs in Google Sheets. We’ll also use a handy menu bar to quickly run the sort.

The approach below relies on a natural sort. In a normal sort where you also have numbers say:

"2. Cheese", "10. Pizza", "1. Bananas"

Then you ran your sort, you would not get what your expected but rather:

"1. Bananas", "10. Pizza", "2. Cheese"

With a natural sort, we consider the number numerically, rather than as characters. This means our sort would come out as expected:

"1. Bananas", "2. Cheese", "10. Pizza"

You can learn more about creating the Apps Script by following the video below or you can jump down and grab a copy of your code and run it in your own project.


You can grab the starter Google Sheet Here:

Sorting Google Sheet Tabs – Starter Sheet 


Sort Tabs in Google Sheets – Video

The Code

Step 1: In your Google Sheet, Go to Extensions > Apps Script.

Step 2: copy the code from below and paste it into the edits and save.

Step 3: Next, reload the Google Sheet. You will see a menu item called Extras. Click it and you will see your two sort options.

Step 4: Go ahead and click an option.

You should see your tabs being sorted.

Custom Google Sheet tab sort menu

Step 5: You will be prompted to run authorisation of the script the first time the script is run. You can learn more about this here:

Running Google Apps Script for the first time. 

Step 6: Select an option again and you will see the tabs being sorted.

If you have found the tutorial helpful, why not shout me a coffee ☕? I'd really appreciate it.

Create and Publish a Google Workspace Add-on with Apps Script Course

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Code Breakdown


The onOpen() function is a Google Apps Script simple trigger that runs automatically when the user opens the Google Sheet.

Line 5: In our example, we call the Spreadsheet App UI class, so that we can build the menu.

Line 8: To create a menu we use the Create Menu method and add the menu label “Extras” as an argument.

Lines 9-10: Next, we can add menus to the main menu header with the Add Item method. These menus take a menu label and then a function or an object method that will run when the menu is selected. Ensure that you don’t include parentheses in these arguments and contain them in a string.

Line 11: Finally, we need to build the menu by adding all the menu items to the UI.

You can learn more about building menus in Google Sheets, Docs and Slides here:

How to build a menu item in Google Sheets

The Sheet Tab Sorter object

The tabSorter object contains 3 properties:

  • ascending
  • descending
  • sortTab

Ascending and Descending Property Methods

Both of these property methods run the sortTabs method providing either true for ascending or false for descending as the argument.

We need to encapsulate these method calls inside their own anonymous functions so that they don’t run automatically when the menu is loaded.

ascending: function(){this.sortTabs(true)},
descending: function(){this.sortTabs(false)},

The sort Google Sheet Tabs machine (sortTabs)

The sortTabs property does all the heavy lifting in this object.

It takes a boolean as an argument that will determine if the sort is ascending or descending.

Get a list of sheets

Our first task is to get an array containing all the Google Sheets in the currently active sheet. We can do this with the SpreadSheet App Get Sheets method. This will contain an array with all the methods available for each found sheet tab.

Using Intl Collator for natural sorting

We want to sort our sheet tabs naturally just in case we have numbers in the name of the tab (e.g. “1”, “2”, “4. Cake”). We can do this with the JavaScript Intl.Collator object to sort the sheet tabs in a natural order, meaning that numeric values are sorted in numerical order and text values are sorted alphabetically. You can modify this function to use a different sorting algorithm or change the sorting order.

Line 2: Here, we create a new Intl.Collator constructor. The first optional parameter of the constructor defines the locale or language tab. We don’t need this option, so we set it to ‘undefined’.

The second parameter sets the options for the collator.

Line 3: First, we use the numeric property and set it to true. This will allow us to order the numbers properly so that 1 < 2 <10.

Line 4: Secondly, we set the sensitivity to base. This means that we do not take into account any accents or other markings on letter characters. If you are using this Google Sheets sort tab code in other languages, then you might want to modify this.

Sort Google Sheet tabs Apps Script-side

Now that we have our collator set up we use the JavaScript sort method to sort through the array of sheet names.

Line 2: Here, we use an arrow function with a standard a, b parameter set. These parameters refer to the first and second elements of comparison respectively.

Line 3: Use our collator and apply the compare method to compare the sheet names against each other.

Reversing the sort

If isAscending parameter of the sortTabs method is set to false, then we use JavaScript reverse() to reverse the array order of the sheetNames.

Updating the Google Sheet tabs to the desired order

Finally, once our array is in the desired order we need to update the Google Sheet with the new tab order.

Line 2: First, we loop through the sheet names array with the JavaScript forEach() method.

Line  3: Inside each loop, we need to set the active sheet to the currently iterated sheet.

Line 4: Finally, we move the active sheet to the next position in the sheet tabs. Note that sheet indexes start from one (1) however our array index starts from zero (0). This is why we need to add one to the index.


That’s all there is to it.

If you want to learn more about how to modify Google sheets tabs with Apps Script, check out these tutorials:

If you have found the tutorial helpful, why not shout me a coffee ☕? I'd really appreciate it.

Find and Select or Format rows in Google Sheets with Apps Script

In this tutorial, we create 3 Google Apps Script functions that are used to:

  1. Find and select the row containing the first or last value in a Google Sheets sheet tab.
  2. Find and select all rows containing the search value.
  3. Format all rows containing the search text.

You can grab a copy of the starter Google Sheet to play along here:

Find & Select or Format Rows – Tutorial

This tutorial accompanies the YouTube video of the same name:

All functions are built to be run from another function, making it easy for you to integrate them into your own projects.

For our example, we will use the runies function for this purpose.

All three of the  examples below take two arguments as parameters:

  • text – the search text.
  • sheetName – the Name of the selected sheet tab.

These functions rely on the Apps Script Spreadsheet App Text finder class to search for the target text within the range.

All examples search a selected sheet tab. However, you can easily modify the script to search a specific range or the entire Google Sheets workbook. You can learn more about how to do this here:

Find All Values in Google Sheets with Apps Script

Find and activate the first or last row in a Google Sheet with Apps Script

Lines 10-12 – In this scenario, we activate the first (findNext()) or last (findPrevious())found row based on a search item that can be found anywhere in the row. We then store this cell range in the cell variable.

Line 17 –  From the cell variable, we can select the Spreadsheet App Range getRow() method to get the row number of the cell.

Line 19-21 – Next, we can activate the range of the selected row using the activate method.

We set the entire range by using A1-notation here within a template literal (that is a string within backticks ()). In Google Sheets, we can set the full width of a sheet by leaving the last column value blank in the notation, for example:

A1:1 or even 1:1.

Incidentally, you can also select a portion of the width by including an end letter in the range, for example:

A1:K1 or in the script .getRange(A${row}:K${row}`)

You can learn more about selecting the first or last found values in this tutorial:

Find first, last or nth value in a Google Sheets range with Apps Script

If you have found the tutorial helpful, why not shout me a coffee ☕? I'd really appreciate it.

Find and activate first row based on a search value in Google Sheets
Example finds the first instance of ‘Koala’ in the range and selects the row.

Find and activate all rows in a Google Sheet with Apps Script

In this example, we select all of the rows containing the target search value.

Line 13 – First, we modify the Text Finder variable to the findAll method and rename the variable. This will return an array of all the cells where the values are found as an array.

Lines 15-16 – Now, we can map over each item in the array creating a new array of ranges that contain A1-notation of the selected row.

Line 18 – Finally, we can use the Spreadsheet App Sheet Class getRangeList() method to collect all ranges in our array and then activate them.

Find and activate all rows based on a search value in Google Sheets
Finds and activates all rows in the range that contain ‘Koala’.

Find and format all rows in a Google Sheet with Apps Script

This last function is virtually the same as the previous one. However, we are doing something much more useful, we are programmatically updating the format of the selected rows.

Lines 18-21 – Using the getRangeList method, we can modify the formatting of any range in the list. In our example, we set the background of the row to a dark blue, changed the text colour to white and bolded the font.

Find and format all rows based on a search value in Google Sheets
Finds and formats all rows containing the search item ‘Koala’.

More formatting methods you can use.

Here is a list of common formatting methods that you can apply to a range list:

  1. Clear FormatclearFormat() – Clears the formatting of the selected range.
  2. Set background ColoursetBackgroundColor(colour) – Use CSS notation like hexadecimal colours, colour names or RGB colours
  3. Set font ColoursetFontColor(colour)– Use CSS notation like hexadecimal colours, colour names or RGB colours.
  4. Set font WeightsetFontWeight(type) – Either “bold” or “normal”.
  5. Set font Size= setFontSize(size) – The font size as a number.
  6. Set font StylesetFontStyle(style) – The style, e.g. “Helvetica”, “Poppins”.
  7. Set vertical alignmentsetVerticalAlignment(alignment) – “top”, “middle” or “bottom”.
  8. Set horizontal alignmentsetHorizontalAlignment(alignment) – “left”, “center”, “right”.
  9. Set text rotationsetTextRotation() – Sets the rotation of the text in each cell in degrees from the original horizontal plain.

In the next tutorial, we will cover how to hide and unhide rows based on found values in a range. The process is a little different, so well worth checking out.

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If you have found the tutorial helpful, why not shout me a coffee ☕? I'd really appreciate it.


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