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6/15/2016

HowtoFindandUseExcelsHiddenFeatures

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Excel includes many outstanding hidden features. Here's how to nd


and use them easily.
by Charley Kyd, MBA
Microsoft Excel MVP, 2005-2014
The Father of Spreadsheet Dashboard Reports

Excel has many outstanding hidden features. Here are a few that I use frequently
In Excel 2013 and above, when you close Excel's last open workbook you also close
Excel. But you easily can keep Excel open even when all workbooks are closed.
You easily can nudge charts into position.
You easily can assign Windows-searchable keywords, categories, and other properties
to your workbooks.
You can click and drag to select multiple charts and drawing objects on a worksheet.
You can close all workbooks with one command.
And you can do a whole lot more.
The key to nding and using these features is to experiment with Excel's Quick Access Toolbar
(QAT).

Excel's Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)


By default, Excel installs your QAT at the top-left of your Excel window. Here's what my QAT
looks like, but your QAT will be dierent:

The QAT gives you quick access to Excel features that could be hidden behind many clicks in
your Ribbon, or not appear in your Ribbon at all.
To change your QAT, right-click on any icon in the QAT and then, in the dropdown menu,
choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar. This launches the Excel Options dialog with the
Quick Access Toolbar tab active:

By default, the Choose commands from dropdown list box is set to Popular Commands.
This list is worth exploring at some point. But to explore Excel's hidden features, choose
Commands Not in the Ribbon in the dropdown list box.
To add a command to your QAT, select it in the rst list shown in the gure above, and then
click the Add button.
To change the order of a command in the QAT, select it in the second list, then click the up- or
down-arrow keys at the far right to shift its position.
And to remove a command from the QAT, select it in the second list and then click the
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And to remove a command from the QAT, select it in the second list and then click the
Remove button, which is below the Add button.
Now let's take a look at my QAT to give you an idea of how it can be used...

The Default QAT Commands

The rst three icons are the QAT's default commands. The rst saves the active le. The
second launches the Undo command (Ctrl+Z). And the third launches the Redo command
(Ctrl+Y).

The Copy As Picture Command

Because I copy a lot of Excel content as pictures, I added the Copy As Picture command to my
QAT. Unfortunately, Excel doesn't have an icon for this command, so it uses the circle that I've
underlined in red. Fortunately, this is the only iconless command I use, so I don't have a
bunch of circles in my QAT.
You'll nd this command in the list of Commands Not in the Ribbon.

The Select Objects Tool

The Select Objects tool allows you to select multiple charts or other objects with your mouse
so you can format them, move them, delete them, or whatever.
To use this tool, you rst click on the underlined icon, which turns your mouse pointer into an
arrow that looks like the icon. Then you use your mouse to select the objects you
want...usually by clicking and dragging. To return your mouse pointer to its regular mode,
press Esc.
You'll nd this command in the All Commands list in the dropdown list box.

The Paste and Keep Text Only Command

This is a command that I add to every Oce QAT that I can, because I always nd myself
copying and pasting text from the Web or some other place with heavily formatted text.
You'll nd this command in the list of Commands Not in the Ribbon.

The Bottom Border and No Border Commands

To my knowledge, Excel oers only two shortcuts for working with borders:
Ctrl+Shift+7 draws a border around the selected range.
Ctrl+Shift+- (minus) removes the border around the selected range.
So I use these two commands on the QAT to add bottom borders or to remove all borders
quickly.
You'll nd both of these commands in the All Commands list.

The New Command

When you click on this icon, Excel launches a new workbook. You'll nd the New command
listed in the Popular Commands list.

The Close and Close All Commands

The rst icon closes the active workbook. The second icon closes all workbooks. It's
unfortunate that the icons are the same.
You might be wondering why I need a Close command on my QAT, because we have other
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You might be wondering why I need a Close command on my QAT, because we have other
easy ways to close our workbooks.
It started with the Close All command, which I added rst. I needed it because I was working
with a lot of open workbooks, and I got tired of closing them individually. But when I used this
command for the rst time, I noticed that Excel 2013 didn't close after the last workbook was
closed. Instead, Excel gave me an empty area below the Ribbon, kind of like we used to have
in Excel 2010.
So I wondered whether the Close command for the QAT would do the same thing, and it
does. That is, when you close the last open workbook using the Close command on the QAT,
Excel stays open in Excel 2013 and above.

The Advanced Document Properties Command

I tend to lose workbooks on my hard drive. I can sometimes spend ten minutes or more using
File Explorer (formerly known as File Manager, and then Windows Explorer) to search my
drive for workbooks that I KNOW are there...somewhere.
Those lost workbooks are my own fault, because Windows gives us the ability to assign
various properties to our les, properties that we can search for quickly with File Explorer. But
it's always a hassle to assign those properties; so I seldom do so.
This is why I was delighted to
discover the Advanced
Document Properties command
in the QAT's list of Commands
Not in the Ribbon.
So now, with one click, I can
launch a dialog that lets me
quickly add searchable
information to my workbook.
Here, I've circled the properties
that you can enter in the
Properties dialog for your active
workbook, and then search for in
File Explorer.
For example, if you enter a title
of My Title in this dialog, you can
search for it in File Explorer. To
do so...
1. Open the folder, library, or
drive that you want to search.
2. Click in the search box and
enter:
Title:"My Title"
(According to a Microsoft web page, you should enter...
System.Title:"My Title"
...instead. But I don't nd that "System." part necessary. And, in fact, I usually don't even need
to use the quotes around "My Title".)
To search for Subject, Manager, Category, and the other items circled above, use the same
approach as I showed with Title.
Also, when you want to search for keywords, you can use either Keywords or Tags to specify
the property that you want to search.

Nudging Charts and Other Objects with the Nudge Commands

If you select a drawing object in a worksheet, and then tap on one of the arrow keys on your
keyboard, you can "nudge" the object up, down, left, or right, depending on which arrow key
you tap. By tapping several times you can position the object precisely on your worksheet.
Unfortunately, the same technique doesn't work with charts. In fact, when I was working on
my Swipe-File Charts, I had a real problem with Excel's inability to nudge chart objects with
arrow keys.
But the four Nudge commands that you can add to your QAT do work with charts! To my
knowledge, the nudge icons that I've underlined above oer the only way to nudge charts.
(These commands also work with drawing objects, of course.)
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(These commands also work with drawing objects, of course.)


You'll nd these commands in the list of Commands Not in the Ribbon.

Adding Your Own QAT Commands


Because you do dierent things in Excel than I do, you'll probably nd some of these
commands useful, and others a total waste of space on your QAT. And that's okay.
But I'm sure you can nd some other QAT commands that would be very useful for the work
you do. So the next time you have a few minutes to play with Excel, search the list of
Commands Not in the Ribbon for likely candidates for your own QAT. And then, when you
have time, you might browse through the other two lists as well.

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