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How to add custom shapes in Tableau

Using pictures or links as filters to navigate in Tableau can be an easy way of making VIZ really cool and interesting. And it's easy to achieve it.

Step 1:

Select the field to use as a filter.

In my example, I was using a dataset of Cake Nutrition. Within my data there was a field with types of cakes, so I decided to use this field to filter the calories for that particular cake, and I wanted to do this using images rather than dropdown filters.

In a blank worksheet, I dragged my 'Flavors' onto the Columns shelf and Calories onto the row shelf. Then, in the marks dropdown menu change from Automatic to shape. This automatically displayed my data as circles.

Step 2:

Drop the Field to the Shape Shelf.

To ensure Tableau recognizes each different Flavor as a different shape, the Flavors field needs to also be put onto the Shape which should have appeared within the Marks shelf.

Once this has been done, Tableau will assign each category a shape from its default shape palette.

Step 3:

Find your custom shapes.

The next step is to find your custom images and save them in the Tableau Repository (local machine). There are lots of websites you can download the images from but today I'm going to use my own pictures.

And make sure the images are in .PNG . It's a good idea to keep the images in different folders according to your specifications.

Step 4: Edit your shape in Tableau

Once you have saved all the custom shapes, go back to your Tableau worksheet and click on the dropdown menu of the shape and select 'Edit Shape'. A menu will appear showing your categories and the shape assigned to each. Click on one of the categories and click the dropdown menu under Select Shape Palette. You should see your new folder with your custom shapes now in the dropdown selection. Sometimes you need to click on 'Reload Shapes' for the new shapes to be displayed.

Click OK and you should now be able to assign any of your custom shapes to your categories.


You can add the sheets to the dashboard and make the images as filters to change the other worksheets to visualize. Click here to see how it works.


  • If you find that your icons are small or big, Click on Size in the marks shelf and adjust the size.

  • Drop ‘Flavors’ onto Color in the Marks shelf if you want to distinguish your categories by different colors.

  • Click on Tooltips in the Marks shelf, and in the Edit Tooltips box, you can click on ‘Insert’ and select ‘Flavors' so that when you hover over each shape the category name will appear.

Thanks for reading!

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