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Mon, Mar 01, 2021 9:44 pm

Changing the AutoRecover frequency for Microsoft Excel 2007

Microsoft Excel 2007 crashed on a laptop running Windows 10 that I was using. When I restarted Excel, I found that, unfortunately, I had lost all of the recent changes I had made to a spreadsheet, even though Excel put "(version 1).xlsb [Autosaved]" in the title of the spreadsheet I had been working on when I restarted Excel—-it crashed when I attempted to paste a webpage URL into a Hyperlink field. The crash and loss of my recent work was aggravating, so I decided to change the frequency with which Excel auomatically saves a file in an AutoRecover version that will allow you to automatically recover a document if if the program hangs or crashes. To change that setting for Excel 2007 on a Windows system, you can click on the Office Button at the top, left-hand corner of the Excel window (it is to the left of the "Home" tab as shown below).

Excel - Office Button

Then click on the Excel Options button and select the Save option. The checkbox for "Save AutoRecover information every" should be checked. You can then change the frequency from 10 minutes to a more frequent number; I chose to have Excel automatically save a document every 5 minutes.

Excel 2007 AutoRecover Frequency

[/software/office/excel] permanent link

Wed, Dec 16, 2020 9:15 pm

Creating a dropdown list in Microsoft Excel

In the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program, if you wish to create a dropdown list where a user can select options from the list for a cell's value, you can take the steps below:
  1. Highlight the cells where you wish to have the the dropdown list appear, e.g., by clicking in a cell and dragging downwards through a column where a user should select from the dropdown list.
  2. Click on Data on the menu bar at the top of the Excel window
  3. Click on Data Validation.
  4. If you see 3 options under Data Validation, i.e., Data Validation, Circle Invalid Data, and Clear Validation Circles, select Data Validation.
  5. You will then see a window where you can change settings. In the "Allow" field for validation criteria, select List.
  6. You will then be given an option to provide the items for the list in the source field. If you have just a couple of options for the list that won't change, you can type them separated by a comma.
  7. Click on OK.

In cells where you have chosen to present a dropdown list to a user, when the user clicks on the cell or tabs into it, he/she will see a small box with a downward pointing arrowhead appear to the right of the cell. The user can then either type a value in the field or he/she can chose a value from the dropdown list by clicking on the small box with the downard pointing arrowhead. If the user types a value that isn't in the list rather than selecting from the dropdown list, when the user hits enter or moves the cursor out of the cell, he/she will see the message "The value you entered is not valid. A user has restricted values that can be entered in this cell."

[ More Info ]

[/software/office/excel] permanent link

Fri, Nov 15, 2019 7:47 pm

Comparing Excel workbooks in Microsoft Excel for Mac

I needed to compare two Excel workbooks produced with Microsoft Excel for Mac (version 16.29) on my MacBook Pro laptop. Unfortunately, the MAC version of Excel doesn't include a capability to directly compare two workbooks. Since both workbooks only had one worksheet in them, I created a new workbook and then copied the contents of the worksheet in the first workbook to Sheet1 in the new workbook and the contents of the worksheet in the second workbook to Sheet2 in the new workbook. I copied the contents of the worksheets by selecting Edit and then Select All in a worksheet and then pasting the contents into a sheet in the new workbook. I then created a third worksheet, Sheet3 in the new workbook. In cell A1 in that workbook, I put the formula =IF(Sheet1!A1 <> Sheet2!A1, "Sheet1:"&Sheet1!A1&" vs Sheet2:"&Sheet2!A1, ""). I clicked in that cell and then clicked on Edit and then Copy. Since the columns in both of the worksheets I wanted to compare extended to AE with 804 rows, I then selected all of the columns from A to AE and all rows from 1 to 804 and then clicked on Edit and then Paste Special with All selected. I then clicked on OK to copy the formula throughout the new worksheet. Excel automatically updates the references so that B2, for instance, gets the formula =IF(Sheet1!B2 <> Sheet2!B2, "Sheet1:"&Sheet1!B2&" vs Sheet2:"&Sheet2!B2, "").

Excel then showed the differences between Sheet1 and Sheet2 in Sheet3 where I had used a formula to compare cells in the two other sheets. If the contents of a cell differed, Excel showed the differences. E.g. for cell A71, I saw Sheet1:I13-0003 vs Sheet2:I97-0033, since Sheet1 had I13-0003 in that cell whereas Sheet2 had I97-0033 . If the cells matched, the corresponding cell in Sheet3 was empty.

So, even though the Mac version of Excel doesn't include the workbook comparison feature found in Windows versions of the program described at How to compare two Excel files for differences, you still may be able to compare sheets in two Excel files by copying relevant sheets into a new sheet where you can see the differences displayed. In the exmple above, the contents of E71 in Sheet3 showed the values for the other sheets as numeric values, though there were dates in the corresponding cells in Sheet1 and Sheet2.

[ More Info ]

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Thu, Mar 01, 2018 10:44 pm

Determining the the elapsed time between two timestamps in Excel

If you have an Excel workbook containing two cells that contain a date and time and you want to know the time difference between them in days and hours, you can subtract one from the other and get the elapsed time between the two timestamps in days and hours by using a custom date and time format for the cell that will hold the results. E.g., suppose I have a spreadsheet with the following timestamps in columns A and B:

  A B C
1 Start Time End Time Elapsed Time
2 1/1/18 0:01 3/1/18 15:03  
3 2/6/18 15:18 2/7/18 18:07  
4 3/1/18 7:55 3/1/18 13:01  

The cells containing the date and time have the custom format m/d/yy h:mm.

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Thu, Feb 15, 2018 10:22 pm

Enabling the Developer Tab in Excel for Mac 2016

To be able to view the Developer Tab in Microsoft Excel for Mac 2016, take the following steps:
  1. Click on Excel at the top, left-hand corner of the Excel window and the select Preferences.
  2. On the Excel Preferences window, click on View in the Authoring section.
  3. In the View window, click on the check box next to Developer tab, which you will see in the In Ribbon, Show section.
  4. You can close that window by clicking on the "x" in the red circle at the top, left-hand corner of the window. You should then see Developer as a selectable option to the right of Data, Review, and View on the menu bar at the top of the Excel window.
  5. If you click on the Developer tab, you should see options that include Visual Basic, Macros, Record Macro, Add-ins, Excel Add-ins, Button, Group Box, Combo Box, Label, Check Box, Scroll Bar, List Box, Option Button, and Spinner.

[ More Info ]

[/software/office/excel] permanent link

Mon, Sep 18, 2017 11:16 pm

Excel - This file is locked for editing

If you see an error message like the one below, which was produced by Microsoft Excel for Mac 2016 on a Mac OS X system, even though you don't have the file open currently, then you will need to delete the lock file, which should be in the same directory as the spreadsheet.

This file is locked for editing.

Locked by: John Doe
Filename: SGRS_2017.xlsm

You can open the file as read-only.


The lock file will have the same name as the workbook you were trying to open, but the file name will have ~$ prepended to it. To delete the file you will need to "escape" the meaning of the dollar sign by putting an escape character, i.e., a backslash character, immediately before the dollar sign. I.e., use ~\$ as shown below:

$ ls -alg **SGRS_2017.xlsm
-rw-rw-r--@ 1 ABC\Domain Users  761327 Sep 13 15:57 SGRS_2017.xlsm
-rw-rw-r--@ 1 ABC\Domain Users     171 Sep 18 22:46 ~$SGRS_2017.xlsm
$ rm ~$SGRS_2017.xlsm
rm: ~.xlsm: No such file or directory
$ rm ~\$SGRS_2017.xlsm

Once the lock file has been deleted, you should be able to open the file without the warning message that it is locked for editing.

[/software/office/excel] permanent link

Sat, Jul 29, 2017 10:05 pm

Chopping off the leftmost or rightmost character of a string in Excel

You can use the LEFT and RIGHT functions in the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program along with the LEN (length) function to remove the leftmost or rightmost character from a text string. These functions also work in Google Sheets, LibreOffice Calc, which is the spreadsheet component of the LibreOffice software package, and Apache OpenOffice Calc, which is the spreadsheet program included in Apache OpenOffice, though in the Apache OpenOffice Calc program you need to substitute semicolons (;) for commas (,) in the formulas. E.g., in Apache OpenOffice Calc you would need to use =RIGHT(A5;LEN(A5) -1) , instead of =RIGHT(A5,LEN(A5) -1) as you would in the other programs.

Removing the leftmost character

The syntax for the RIGHT function is RIGHT(text,[numchars]). If you don't include numchars, i.e., you use RIGHT(text) then the value returned is the rightmost character in the string. E.g., if cell A1 has 1ABC in it, then =RIGHT(A1) returns C. But suppose, instead, you want to remove the leftmost charaacter from a string. You can use the RIGHT function to do so. E.g., suppose I have a column of values, e.g.:

1 1ABC 
2 2DEF 
3 3GHI 
4 4JKL 
5 5MNO 

If I want to remove the number at the beginning of each text string and put the shortened strings in column B, I could, since the strings are all 4 characters long, use =RIGHT(A1,3) in column B1 and then copy the formula down through the other cells in column B by clicking in cell B1 and holding down the leftmost mouse button and dragging downwards through the other cells in column B and then hitting Ctrl-D.

But suppose the strings vary in length. I.e., suppose I have a worksheet containing the following strings in column A:

1 1ABC 
2 2DEFG 
3 3HI 
4 4JKL 
5 5MNOP 

[ More Info ]

[/software/office/excel] permanent link

Sat, Jul 22, 2017 5:53 pm

Counting entries in an Excel spreadsheet by AM or PM

Microsoft Excel supports formatting timestamps in a workbook as a date followed by a time with an AM or PM value, i.e., the times are in 12-hour clock format where noon is 12:00 PM and midnight is 12:00 AM. You can select that format for a cell or column in a worksheet by highlighting the cell(s) or column (a column can be selected by clicking on the letter at the top of the column) and then clicking on Format then Cells and then clicking on Date and selecting a type of "3/14/15 1:30 PM."

If you wanted to extract just the hour from the timestamp, you can use the HOUR function, e.g. =HOUR(A1) to extract the hour value from cell A1. The hour will be displayed in 24-hour clock format, aka military time, i.e., 7:00 AM is 7 while 7:00 PM is 12 plus 7, i.e., 19; 12:00 AM (midnight) is 0 and 12:00 PM (noon) is 12.

[ More Info ]

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Sun, Jun 04, 2017 11:21 pm


If you wish to know whether a cell holds a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), such as, in Google Sheets you can use the ISURL function. E.g., if I wanted to know whether cell A5 contains a URL, elsewhere in the spreadsheet I could use the formula =ISURL(A5). The value returned will be either TRUE or FALSE. Note: this will return the Boolean value TRUE or FALSE only if the text in the cell is a URL. If, instead, I have =hyperlink("","Super User"), i.e., I have text in the cell that is hyperlinked, the value will be FALSE, because, in the example, the text that appears in the cell will be Super User.

This function is not available in Microsoft Excel, at least as of Excel 2013 for Windows and Microsoft Excel for Mac 2016 (version 15.29), which is part of Microsoft Office 2016 for OS X and macOS systems. Nor is it available for Apache OpenOffice Calc, at least as of version 4.1.1. If you try using ISURL as a formula in those applications, you will see #NAME? appear in the cell where you place the formula, since its usage is an incompatibility between those versions and Google Sheets.

The ISURL formula will return TRUE for other URLs besides HTTP or HTTPS ones. E.g., FTP and mailto URLs will also result in a value of TRUE. E.g., if a cell contains any of the following URLs, an ISURL formula that checks the content of the cell will return TRUE.

[/software/office/excel] permanent link

Wed, Apr 19, 2017 10:11 pm

Excel 2016 - Workbook Protected

I wanted to add another sheet to an Excel workbook, but when I clicked on the "+" to add the additional worksheet, I saw the message "Workbook is protected and cannot be changed."

Excel 2016 - workbook protected

I didn't know what the password might be because I had never set a password for the workbook, which I had created in a prior version of Excel; I'm using Microsoft Office 2016 on a MacBook Pro running OS X El Capitan (10.11.6) at the moment.

[ More Info ]

[/software/office/excel] permanent link

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