Viewing Content in Looker

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Once you’ve found the content you’re looking for, this tutorial will teach you how to view it and make sense of it.

Don’t worry while you look through existing content. You can view and click on Looks and dashboards as much as you want. You won’t impact anyone else unless you choose to edit something, make changes, and then save them. Keep learning about browsing and then about exploring data before starting to edit Looks or edit dashboards.

Working with Looks

Choosing to View or Explore a Look

When you find a Look that you want to view there are two options:

  1. You can choose to view the Look simply, if you just need to see its underlying data.
  2. You can choose to explore the Look, if you want to use it as a starting point for further data exploration.

This tutorial focuses on simply viewing the data. Check out our Exploring Data in Looker page if you’d like to learn about exploring.

Making Sense of a Look

When you view a Look you’ll see the following items:

For Looks with the Run on Load option disabled, the data will not load automatically. Click the Run button in the upper right to load the data. You can learn more here.

  1. The title of the Look.
  2. Information about how long the report took to run and how old the data is.
  3. How long ago the data was queried (to display the date and time, hover over the relative time information).
  4. The timezone of the data you’re viewing, if your administrator has enabled user-specific timezones.
  5. Details about the report. This might include a description if one has been added, a list of scheduled deliveries the Look is a part of, and which dashboards the Look is a part of.

The remaining items can be expanded or hidden as desired:

  1. A list of filters that have been applied to the report, if any. If the Look was created with adjustable filters, you can temporarily change them to limit the report to the information that you’re interested in. Just remember to hit the Run button in the upper right after making any changes. Unless you click Edit and make the change in Edit mode, changes to the filters are temporary and do not affect anyone else.
  2. The chart associated with the Look’s data.
  3. The underlying numbers of the Look’s data. You can also adjust the report’s:

    • Sort order. Click on a column heading (or several using the shift key) to sort the values in the column. Looker will adjust the results and automatically rerun the query if necessary.
    • Row and column limits. After making any changes to the limits, be sure to hit the Run button in the upper right to run the query with the new limits.

    Unless you click Edit and make the change in Edit mode, changes to the sorting or limits are temporary and do not affect anyone else.

  4. If the field has a description defined in its LookML, hovering over the table column header will display the description.

If you make any changes while viewing a Look, such as changing filters, sorting a column, or changing row limits, you can return to the Look’s original settings by clicking Reset Look.

As you gain familiarity with Looker you’ll begin to use saved Looks as a launchpad for further exploration. You can start with one set of data and then begin exploring the answers to related questions by changing the filters, changing the visualization, sorting the data differently, or making other changes. You can learn about these exciting possibilities in our exploring data tutorial.

Choosing Timezones

If your Looker admin has enabled user-specific timezones Looker will provide a menu for choosing your timezone.

The current timezone displays in the upper right of the Look. Click it to select a new timezone:

The timezone setting affects the data returned when filtering for “today”, “yesterday”, and so forth. You can learn more here.

Drilling into a Look

If your Looker developers have enabled it, you may be able to drill into a value on your report.

For example, you could click on the User Count where the Gender is Female and the Traffic Source is Display:

Looker then displays a Details window about those 595 females who visited the site via the “displays” traffic source:

For data sets where the row limit is reached in the Details window, Looker provides a link for downloading the complete set of results. Click the link to download the data, using the same options as shown on this page.

Copying Values from a Look

Looker lets you copy all the data from a table column with a single click. To do so, hover over a column label, click the gear icon, and then choose Copy Values:

This data can then be easily pasted into a document or a tool like Excel.

Working with Dashboards

A dashboard is essentially a collection of saved Looks, displayed like tiles together on one page:

A single saved Look can appear on multiple dashboards. To view a dashboard, navigate to the space that contains the dashboard and click on the dashboard’s name.

To learn more about creating and managing your own dashboard, see our User-defined Dashboards page.

Changing Dashboard Filter Values

Looker dashboards often have one or more filters that affect one or more of the tiles. You can change a filter to see how the data changes. You will not affect anyone else by changing the filter unless you edit and save the dashboard.

For example, dashboards often have a filter that specifies the number of days to include. You can see the filter by clicking the Filter section:

Then you can use the dropdown menus to change the filter choices as desired:

In the dropdowns, one of the choices is “Matches (Advanced)” which enables you to use advanced filtering choices.

Refreshing Data in a Dashboard

Looker dashboards aren’t static snapshots of data from a specific time. Looker fills dashboards using data from your live database when you load the page. Typically, Looker has access to the data as fast as the data reaches the database.

If you’ve already loaded a dashboard and want to get fresh data, click the gear icon in the upper right and select Clear Cache & Refresh to rerun the queries for all elements on the dashboard. If you want to refresh a specific dashboard element, click the gear icon on any tile and choose Clear Cache & Refresh.

Please note that frequently using the Clear Cache & Refresh option on a dashboard with many tiles, or very large reports, can cause a strain on your database. You can check the age of the dashboard’s data to the left of the Run button to see if the refresh is truly needed.

Exploring the Data Used in a Dashboard

Dashboards are also starting points for further exploration. You can click the title of a tile to explore its underlying data, or you can click the gear icon in the upper right of a tile, then choose to explore from there. Once you arrive at the Explore page you can continue to adjust the query for your particular interest.

You also can click or hover on some elements in the dashboard tiles (such as a slice of a pie chart) to view more details about the data. You can learn the skills to explore the details of a dashboard’s data on the exploring data pages.

Navigation Shortcuts

When exploring a dashboard or Look, you can navigate to other items within the same Space by using the drop-down in the upper left.


You now know how to view and understand existing Looks and dashboards. If you’d like to learn how to create your own reports, check out our Exploring Data in Looker page.

Otherwise, in the next section you can learn how to share information that you find in Looker.

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