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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Using Other Excel Interface Improvements

This is a recap of interface changes introduced in Excel 2007 through Excel 2013:

  • Slot-machining (2013)—When you change an input cell, all of the calculated cells in view of the window animate as they change. This looks a lot like the spinning wheel in a slot machine.
  • Touch mode (2013)—If you are using Excel on a touch screen or a tablet, you can put Excel in touch mode. A tiny bit of space appears around each icon, which hopefully gives you more of a chance to touch the correct icon.
  • Less chrome (2013)—Microsoft really believes a lot of people will be using Excel on touch devices once Windows 8 begins to catch on. They tried to make the touch zones bigger by eliminating any decorations in the interface. Microsoft called these decorations the “chrome” in the interface. In addition to losing the chrome, you also lose some tiny icons that would be hard to use in touch mode. For example, the tiny icons in the edge of the scrollbars used to split a window are gone in Excel 2013. The set of four controls used to move between worksheets is reduced to two icons.
  • Paste options (2010)—An expanded Paste Options menu introduces many popular shortcut key sequences to Excel.
  • Live preview (2007)—You can preview formatting changes before you actually select the change.
  • Mini toolbar (2007)—The mini toolbar appears whenever you select text. Although this might happen rarely when you edit cells in Excel, it does happen frequently when you work with charts, text boxes, and so on. The mini toolbar offers quick access to font, size, bold, italic, alignment, color, indenting, and bullets.
  • Formula bar (2007)—The formula bar includes the capability to expand or contract itself at your whim instead of the whim of Excel.
  • Zoom slider (2007)—The Zoom slider enables you to quickly change from seeing one page to hundreds of pages at a time.
  • Status bar (2007)—The status bar appears at the bottom of your worksheet window. Although you probably never noticed it, the status bar in legacy versions of Excel reported the total of any selected cells. This information is now improved and expanded, offering multiple statistics at one time.
  • View control (2007)—The View control gives you one-click access to Page Break Preview mode, Normal mode, and the Page Layout view introduced in Excel 2007.
  • New Sheet icon (2007/2013)—The New Sheet icon enables you to add new worksheets to a workbook with a single click. In Excel 2013, the new sheet is added to the right of the active sheet.

Adding White Space Around Icons Using Touch Mode

If you are trying to use Excel on a tablet or a touch screen, you want to try touch mode. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the right side of the QAT and open the drop-down that appears there.
  2. The twelfth command is called Touch Mode. The icon is a blue dot with a ring of white space and then dashed lines around the white space. Choose this command to add it to the QAT.
  3. Click the icon on the QAT. You see white space added around all of the icons.

Figure 3.30 compares the first two groups of the Home tab in regular and touch mode.

Figure 3.30

Figure 3.30. Touch mode adds white space around each icon, thus making the touch points larger.

Previewing Paste Using the Paste Options Gallery

Here’s a quick survey: Have you ever opened a Notepad window, pasted your data to Notepad, copied from Notepad, and then pasted to your application? This is a great but tedious way to remove formatting from a selection. If you have discovered this painful workaround, you are going to love this feature that was added starting in Excel 2010: the Paste Options gallery.

Here is another survey: Suppose you have to copy a column of formulas and paste them as values. Do your fingers know how to do Ctrl+C, Alt+E+S+V+Enter? If so, you are going to love the new Ctrl+V, Ctrl, V keystrokes available in the Paste Options gallery. If you’ve ever done Ctrl+C, Alt+E+S+V+Enter, Alt+E+S+T+Enter, you will love the new Context+E keyboard shortcut.

As someone who uses both of those old keyboard shortcuts frequently, I love the Paste Options gallery. You can keep slicers, sparklines, even PowerPivot; the Paste Options gallery is going to be the one feature that makes a difference in my life every single hour of every single workday.

Microsoft discovered that Paste was the number-one command that was immediately followed by Undo. To improve the Paste command, Microsoft added the Paste Options gallery in three places in Excel 2010. These galleries support Live Preview and keyboard shortcuts. They should make mouse-centric as well as keyboard-centric people very happy.

You encounter the gallery when you have something on the Clipboard and one of these three events happens:

  • You right-click a cell to access the context menu.
  • You open the Paste drop-down from the Home tab.
  • After you perform a typical Paste operation, the old Paste Repair menu icon appears with the tip that you can press Ctrl to access the gallery.

Accessing the Gallery After Performing a Paste Operation

Suppose that you copy a range with Ctrl+C and then paste with Ctrl+V. The icon for the old Paste Repair appears next to the paste, but this time it notes that you can open the menu by pressing Ctrl. When you press Ctrl, you are presented with a gallery of paste options.

The options available in the gallery are as follows:

  • Paste—This is the standard paste that you would get using Ctrl+V.
  • Formulas—Pastes only formulas, with no formatting. This is common when you are copying down from the first row of a table that has an outline border. To prevent the top border from copying, you can paste formulas. You then find that you have to reapply the number formatting.
  • Formulas & Number Formatting—Copies formulas as previous formulas, along with the number formatting.
  • Keep Source Formatting—This is particularly useful when copying from another application such as a web page. The formatting from the other application is pasted along with the values.
  • No Borders—Pastes everything but the borders.
  • Column Widths—Includes the column widths from the copied area.
  • Transpose—Turns the data on its side. A 12-row-by-1-column copied range would paste as 1 row by 12 columns.
  • Values—Converts formulas to values.
  • Values and Number Formatting—Converts the formulas to values and includes the number formats from the copied data.
  • Values & Source Formatting—Converts the formulas to values and includes all formatting such as cell styles, font color, number formatting, and borders.
  • Formats—Does not bring any values, only the cell formatting. Similar to using the Format Painter but not as annoying.
  • Paste Link—Creates formulas here that point back to the copied range.
  • Paste as Picture—Pastes a picture of the original cells in this location.
  • Paste as Linked Picture—Pastes a live picture of the original cell in this location. This is the elusive Camera tool from Excel 2003.
  • Open Paste Special—Used to access the old Paste Special dialog. The Paste Special dialog still offers some choices not available in the Paste Options gallery: Comments, Validation, All using Source Theme, Add, Subtract, Multiply, Divide, and Skip Blanks.

Accessing the Paste Options Gallery from the Right-Click Menu

The Paste Options gallery appears in the right-click context menu and includes Live Preview. The top six options appear directly in the menu. A fly-out menu offers all 14 options.

As you start to hover over the various paste icons, Live Preview takes over. The rest of the context menu disappears so that you can see the worksheet. Hover over Transpose, and you get a preview of what Transpose actually does. Hover over Formatting and you see that the Formatting option copies only the cell formats and not the numbers. If you hover over Paste Special and then move out to the full gallery, all the context menu except the full gallery disappears, and Live Preview continues to work.

Accessing the Paste Options Gallery from the Paste Drop-Down

The Paste Options gallery also appears when you open the Paste drop-down on the Home tab. Figure 3.31 shows the menu there.

Figure 3.31

Figure 3.31. The gallery replaces the old Paste drop-down in the Home tab.

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