Upgrade Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder

Tableau regularly releases new versions of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder. To take advantage of new features as well as other improvements and enhancements, upgrade to the latest version.

To upgrade you will need to do the following:

  1. Download the most recent installer from the Customer Portal page or any currently supported installer from the Product Downloads and Release Notes page.

  2. Follow the installation instructions in Install Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder from the User Interface to install the updated version from the user interface or Install Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder from the Command Line to install the updated version from the command line.

    Note: By default, Tableau Desktop is configured to automatically install the latest maintenance upgrade (for example 2019.4.3) for you unless this feature has been disabled by the administrator.

For more information about the different types of upgrades you can do and the impact of performing these upgrades, review the sections in this article

Release upgrades versus maintenance upgrades

Not all upgrades are the same:

  • A release upgrade is when Tableau offers a range of new features and updates the look and feel of the product. The interval between release upgrades is typically a matter of months for Tableau Desktop or can be monthly for Tableau Prep Builder. With a release upgrade, the Tableau Desktop version number changes. For Tableau Desktop, the most recent release upgrade was from Tableau 2020.1 to Tableau 2020.2; the one before that was from Tableau 2019.4 to Tableau 2020.1. For Tableau Prep Builder, the most recent release upgrade was from Tableau Prep Builder version 2020.1.1 to Tableau Prep Builder version 2020.1.3.

  • A maintenance upgrade(Tableau Desktop only) ensures that your copy of Tableau Desktop has the current security fixes and bug fixes. The interval between maintenance upgrades is typically a matter of weeks. Tableau provides maintenance upgrades for all versions of Tableau Desktop that are still officially supported. After a maintenance upgrade, there's typically no obvious change to what you see. However, if you open the About Tableau dialog box you can see that the third part of the version number will have changed—for example, from 2019.4.2 to 2019.4.3.

    For automatic product upgrades, installers are downloaded to the Downloads/TableauAutoUpdate folder. If the Downloads folder doesn't exist, the installers are downloaded to the TEMP/TableauAutoUpdate folder.

What you need to know about release upgrades

For information about new features added in recent release upgrades, see What’s New in Tableau Desktop or What's New in Tableau Prep Builder in the Tableau and Tableau Prep Builder Help. For information about security issue resolutions, bug fixes, and other details in a release for all Tableau products, see the Product Downloads and Release Notes page.

Before you upgrade

A release upgrade requires some preparation and planning. Here are some questions to ask before you upgrade:

  • Are there any power users within your organization? If so, they should install and test the new version before the rest of the users do. Tableau tests each new version thoroughly, but every environment is unique and a test drive is never a bad idea.

  • Does your organization also use Tableau Server? For Tableau Desktop, verify that the new version of Tableau Desktop you will be installing is compatible with your company’s current version of Tableau Server. Publishing workbooks from a newer version of Tableau Desktop to an older version of Tableau Server can be problematic. You can downgrade your workbook for compatibility, but there are limitations to that functionality. For more information about version compatibility, see Make Workbooks Compatible Between Versions.

  • Is your organization ready to upgrade all workbooks? After you install a release upgrade, any existing workbooks you open and then save in the newer version will be upgraded. After that, these workbooks, (as well as any new workbooks you create using the new version) can't be opened with an older version of Tableau Desktop unless you downgrade the workbook. For more information about version compatibility and downgrading workbooks, see Make Workbooks Compatible Between Versions

Changes to existing workbooks and data sources (Tableau Desktop only)

When you upgrade to a new release version of Tableau Desktop, bookmarks, workbooks, and data sources that you were working with (that is, that are in the local Tableau repository on your computer) are still available in the new version. For information about the Tableau repository, see Files and Folders in the Tableau Help.

After you open and save a workbook or data source with the upgraded version of Tableau Desktop, you can no longer open it with older versions. Instead you would need to downgrade the workbook to open it.

Note: If you've been participating in the Tableau Software Beta program, you also have a beta version of the Tableau repository. The beta repository will still exist after you install the new major version, but Tableau Desktop will no longer use it. To make your beta workbooks accessible in the new release version, copy the workbooks from the beta repository to your new repository.

Changes to sample workbooks and data sources

With a release upgrade, new sample data sources and workbooks replace the old samples—unless you've modified and saved any of the sample workbooks or data sources to an alternate location. The modified workbooks and data sources are retained and the equivalent new sample workbooks or data sources are not installed. This is done on a case-by-case basis. For example, if you've modified the Sample - Superstore data source, but not any of the other sample workbooks or data sources, the installer will replace all of the other sample workbooks or data sources, but not the Sample - Superstore data source.

Install a release version upgrade on the same computer

Typically, you upgrade to the new release version number on the same computer where you were running the previous release version. You don't have to uninstall the older version before you install the new version.

Depending on the product and the release version, the new release version may or may not replace an existing release version on the computer.

For Tableau Desktop, you can keep two release versions (for example, version 2020.1 and version 2020.2) installed on the same computer. Tableau Prep Builder generally releases a new version every month and upgrading to a newer version may overwrite the existing installed version on your computer.

To determine whether the upgrade version will overwrite your current version, you can look at the version numbering for the product, but how you read this version numbering varies by product. For example, Tableau Prep Builder doesn't release maintenance versions, while Tableau Desktop does.

The following examples shows whether an upgrade will overwrite the currently installed product version.

Current version Upgrade version Overwrite?
2019.3.1 2019.4.1 No
2019.4.1 2019.4.2 Yes

After you've been using the newer version for a while and have upgraded all your workbooks or flows, it's a good practice to uninstall the older version to avoid confusion and clutter.

Install a release version upgrade on a different computer

If you're installing a release version upgrade of Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder on a different computer from the one where you installed an older version, you must first deactivate the product key for Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder on the original computer. You can then use that product key to activate Tableau Desktop on the new computer. You won't be able to use the new version until you transfer the license. If you need to do this, see Move or Deactivate Product Keys .

Important: Tableau Prep Builder is designed to work with Tableau Desktop. It is recommended that you install Tableau Prep Builder on the same machine as Tableau Desktop.

Updates to workbook themes (Tableau Desktop only)

If you upgrade from an earlier version of Tableau and you open a workbook that uses the Default theme, your workbook will automatically pick up any updates to the theme. If your workbook is set to a theme other than Default, it will retain that setting. Conversely, you can change your workbook's theme from Default to a different, earlier theme. See Format at the Workbook Level in the Tableau Help for details.

Updates to custom geocoding (Tableau Desktop only)

After you upgrade, it's a good idea to refresh your custom geocoding so you can take advantage of any fixes made to the geocoding data in Tableau. See Data Blending vs. Custom Geocoding in the Tableau Help.

What you need to know about maintenance upgrades (Tableau Desktop only)

Your copy of Tableau Desktop can stay current with the latest features, security resolutions, and fixes through dot (maintenance) releases. By default, Tableau Desktop is configured to install dot releases for you automatically with a feature named Automatic Product Updates. When you start Tableau Desktop for the first time after a dot release becomes available, you see a prompt offering to download it after you exit Tableau Desktop. You can choose to postpone or skip the update. (The Product Update feature will not automatically install a major upgrade.)

You can also check for product updates at any time by selecting Check for Product Updates from the Help menu. If a new maintenance version is available, Tableau gives you an opportunity to download and install the latest version.

Note: Automatic Product Updates and Check for Product Updates are not available if your Administrator has turned off this feature during install or if your product maintenance services have expired.

Changes to existing workbooks and data sources (Tableau Desktop only)

With a dot release, there's no change to the workbooks, data sources, and other files in your Tableau repository, and everything in Tableau Desktop should look the same as before. One exception is that Tableau sometimes makes new data source connectors available with a maintenance release.

For information about the individual security resolutions, bug fixes, and other changes in any dot release, see the Release Notes page. Another resource is the Subscription and Maintenance Policy, which provides basic information about product maintenance.

If maintenance releases aren't installed automatically (Tableau Desktop only)

If maintenance updates aren't being installed on your computer, your copy of Tableau might not be configured for automatic updates, or there might be a problem with updating. For more information, see the Troubleshoot maintenance updates (Tableau Desktop only) section in the troubleshooting article of this guide.

You can turn Product Updates off or on from within Tableau Desktop:

  • Choose Help > Settings and Performance > Enable Automatic Product Updates.

This option is only available if Product Updates was enabled during the product install. If the feature was disabled during installation, this menu item is also disabled.

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