UPDATE/CORRECTION: A previous version of this article was written based on the beta version of Excel 2013. At that time enabling the Disable Hardware Acceleration setting within the Advanced section of Excel’s Options would turn off the animation, but the technique no longer works. Thank you to all of the commenters that weighed in with corrections to this article while the previous version was online. Please refer to the end of the post for the update on how to disable the worksheet animation in Excel.
Excel 2013 has arrived, and for the most part, it's much like Excel 2007 and 2010, but with some spiffy new features, such as Recommended Charts and Pivot Tables, Flash Fill, Quick Analysis, Power View, and more. I'll be exploring these features in upcoming articles, but first I want to show how you can disable the eye candy if you choose.
By comparison, worksheets in Excel 2010 and earlier were rather staid. You pressed Enter, and the cursor dropped to the next row with aplomb. In Excel 2013, the cursor wants to make sure that you realize it's moving to the next row, so it swoops its way there. When you change a formula, numbers flip like in a slot machine before settling into place. Click a few cells to the right, and the cursor visually whooshes into position.
These features are probably helpful to a new generation that's never experienced a spreadsheet before, but it borders on seizure inducing for long-time spreadsheet users. Fortunately, there's a simple fix to tone down the animation in Excel 2013. As shown in Figure 1, click on File, choose Options, and then Advanced. Scroll down to the Display section and then enable the Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration setting. Think of this as the "turn off the bells and whistles, please" option. Click OK and settle into working in peace with your spreadsheets again. SEE UPDATE BELOW
Figure 1: Enable the Disable Hardware Graphics Acceleration option to turn off worksheet animation SEE UPDATE BELOW
For good measure, once you change this setting in Excel 2013, as shown in Figure 2, choose File and then Account. On this screen you can change your Office Theme to Dark Gray to add some contrast to the default, stark-white user interface. This screen is also where you can sign out of Excel if you sign in via the Sign In link in the top right-hand corner or through the Office Apps store. SEE UPDATE BELOW
Figure 2: Set the Office Theme to Dark Gray if you find the Excel 2013's default theme to be too stark.
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Here's a simple fix to tone down the animation in Excel 2013, shown in Figure 1, which I’ll describe here:
1. Access the Windows Control Panel:
- Windows 7: Click Start, and then Control Panel.
- Windows 8: From the desktop right-click the Windows button and choose Control Panel. Or, from the Start screen (also known as the Metro interface), start typing the words Control Panel to make a Control Panel icon appear.
2. Choose Ease of Use within the Control Panel (Keyboard shortcut: press Windows-U to hop directly to this window without first launching the Control Panel in step 1 above.)
3. Scroll down and click the Use This Computer Without a Display link.
4. Scroll down and click the Turn Off All Unnecessary Animations (When Possible) checkbox.
5. Click OK as needed or close any onscreen windows.
Figure 1: You can use the Windows Control Panel to disable worksheet animation in Excel 2013.
A second way to improve your Excel 2013 experience is to adjust the theme, as shown in Figure 2. Choose File, and then Account. On this screen you can change your Office Background to None to turn off extraneous eye-candy. I also recommend changing the Office Theme to Dark Gray to add some contrast to the default, stark-white user interface. This screen is also where you can sign out of Excel if you sign in via the Sign In link on the top hand-corner, or through the Office Apps store. Bear in mind though that an update to Windows 8 unceremoniously links your computer to your Windows Live or Microsoft Account, which then means you can no longer simply log out of Office. The fix for this entails creating a new Windows 8 account.
Figure 2: Set the Office Theme to Dark Gray if you find the Excel 2013’s default theme to be too stark.
About the author:
David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.