Updated: 12/10/2023 by Computer Hope

A filter may refer to any of the following:

1. The most common filter is a software filter that reads and manipulates data to fit another output pattern or removes data that may not be needed. For example, spam filters help prevent unwanted e-mails from reaching your Inbox.

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2. Hardware devices can also be filters. For example, a firewall can filter network traffic to help protect a network.

3. With a power supply, a filter is a device inside a power supply that smooths out pulsing DC (direct current).

4. With Adobe Photoshop, a filter is a digital effect to modify images. See our Photoshop filters page for a complete listing of Photoshop filters.

5. With Microsoft Excel, FILTER is a function that lets you single out a range of data based on the values in a formula. Below is an example of how the filter formula may appear.

=FILTER(A4:A11,B4:B11=B1,"Enter computer manufacturer in B1")

Below is an example of this filter formula being used. Here, "A4:A11" is our data range containing all the cells to be filtered. Next, "B4:B11" are the cells containing the data that will be filtered. Finally, B1 is the cell where we enter the text parameter.

Excel filter formula

In this instance, we used "dell" to be the filter word. As such, you can see that each employee using a Dell computer (indicated next to their name) is listed under the filter results (starting in cell D3). If B1 is empty, the cell containing the formula displays the text "Enter computer manufacturer in B1."

6. Alternatively called censorware, a swear filter, or a content filter, a filter can describe software or hardware that selectively blocks specific data. For example, a parental control Internet filter can block obscene websites from children on the Internet.

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