Excel Tip of the Week #18 - View shortcuts

Welcome back to the Excel Tip of the Week.  As a reminder, one post each month will be posted here in IT Counts, but the regular weekly emails can be found in the Excel Community site.

This week we have a General User post in which we’ll be looking at a few tools that can be used to make it quicker and easier to view different parts of a spreadsheet at the same time.

Viewing one workbook in two windows

If you want, you can view a single Excel workbook in two (or more) windows.  This means you can quickly Alt+Tab to switch between the two views, and can compare two sheets easily.  This is especially handy if the workbook has a lot of tabs and manually moving from one end of the tabs to the other is laborious.

To set this up, go to the View tab => New Window.  If you save the workbook whilst two windows are open, it will automatically open with two windows.  If you want to get rid of the second window, then close it and then save whilst viewing the workbook through just one window.

Comparing two workbooks side by side

Whenever you have two workbooks open (or two windows looking at the same workbook as described above), you can pick ‘View Side by Side’ from the View menu to have the two shown on-screen simultaneously.  Furthermore, you can click ‘Synchronous Scrolling’ from that same menu, so that whenever you scroll in either workbook, the other will scroll as well.  This is particularly good for checking two versions of the same document by eye.

Freeze panes

This tool lets you ‘hold’ a number of rows/columns at the top/left of the worksheet, so that they remain on-screen even as you scroll around the workbook.  This is particularly useful for keeping column and row headers visible as you scroll around a large table.

To set up a Freeze, set up your screen so that the rows / columns you want to see are on screen.  Select the upper-leftmost cell that won’t be frozen – e.g. to freeze the top row and top column, select B2.  Then from View select Freeze Panes => Freeze Panes.

This should now lock the appropriate rows and columns so that they stay visible.  To remove a Freeze, use the same menu and select ‘Unfreeze panes’.

Watch window

A Watch window monitors the value of some particular cell, without you having to have the actual cell on-screen.  It’s useful for keeping an eye on some key output and how it changes as you alter the input data.

To set up the feature, select Watch window from the Formulas menu.  Then select ‘Add watch’ from the resulting popout, and then pick the cell(s) you want to keep an eye on.

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