Restoring Classic Print Preview in Excel 2010/2013

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By David Ringstrom, CPA

Long-term Excel users will recall that Excel has historically provided a separate Print Preview window that made it easy to zoom in and adjust settings. Excel 2010 introduced a new "Backstage View" where print preview became embedded into the File menu. Excel 2013 continues this new tradition, but you can get your "old-school" print preview functionality back with a few quick steps.
To accomplish this, we're going to add an icon to Excel's Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). As shown in Figure 1, the QAT typically resides at the top of your Excel screen and serves as a custom toolbar of your making. To begin:
  • Right-click on the QAT and then choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
  • When the Excel Options dialog box appears, choose Commands Not in the Ribbon.
  • Scroll down the list until you find Print Preview Full Screen. Alternatively, you can click once on one of the first commands on the list, and then press P to jump down the list close to where Print Preview Full Screen resides.
  • Double-click on Print Preview Full Screen to add it to your Quick Access Toolbar. You can also click once on it and choose Add, but double-clicking saves a step. Note that it's important to choose Print Preview Full Screen as opposed to Print Preview and Print. The latter simply provides easier access to the Backstage View on the File menu.
  • Optionally, move Print Preview Full Screen further up the list. Each icon on the QAT is given a numeric keyboard shortcut. As shown in Figure 1, Print Preview Full Screen is the fourth icon on the list. This means on my computer I can press Alt-4 to display the classic Print Preview screen.
  • Click OK once you're satisfied with the positioning of the new icon on your QAT.
Figure 1: Adding a hidden command restores classic Print Preview in Excel 2010 and later.
You can now either click on the icon or press Alt-4 (or the corresponding number based on its position). If you forget the numeric shortcut, simply press the Alt key once in Excel to reveal the shortcuts. As shown in Figure 2, Excel 2007 users have an easier time:
  • Click the arrow at the end of the QAT.
  • Choose Print Preview.
Figure 2: Excel 2007 users can add Print Preview to the QAT with two mouse clicks.
If at some point in the future you want to remove Print Preview or other icons from your QAT in Excel 2007 or later, simply right-click on the icon within the QAT and choose Remove From Quick Access Toolbar.
Before I close, I do have a tip for Word 2010 and 2013 users. You can restore classic print preview functionality there as well, but the steps are just slightly different:
  • Right-click on the QAT and choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
  • Choose All Commands (instead of Commands Not in the Ribbon as you did in Excel).
  • Double-click Print Preview Edit Mode (instead of Print Preview Full Screen). You may see a Print Preview Full Screen command, but in Word that command doesn't work in the same fashion as Excel.
Read more articles by David Ringstrom. 
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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.



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Thanks David, this was helpful

My pleasure!

thanks a ton, the default way is actually quite painful, the full screen preview is better anyday

I agree. I was so glad to be able to figure this out.

great tip. thanks very much.

Thanks for the feedback!

THANK YOU - M$ once again made things worse for real working people .. this saves me time and effort .. along with being able to see what I am looking at .

You're quite welcome...thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts!

Holly molly man!!!! I've been cursing a lot lately, trying to get rid of the half-screen print preview. I've looked around for the past year in vain, but thanks to you I don't have to double my screen size just to preview a word document. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

You're quite welcome. I'm glad you ran across my work and found it so helpful!

I love you!! I HATE how unwieldy Backstage view is. This hack, plus your other hack about turning off Backstage when opening/saving, is awesome!! As a bonus with this hack, my keyboard shortcuts for Page Setup ("s") and Print ("t") still work!

Somehow I missed your comment earlier in the year. I'm so glad that you found my articles helpful! The "backstage" might be good for beginners, but it makes experienced Excel users want to pull their hair out.

Just want to join the bandwagon and say thanks! Just found this, and it's really great to know I can go back to normal. The new view really sucks. Cheers, Adam

Thanks, Adam! Yes, jamming Print Preview into the File menu forces us to choose between eyestrain or seeing 1/4 of your page at a time, neither of which is acceptable to me. I'm always glad to hear when I can resolve a frustration in Excel.

Thanks a lot. This is the best tip of the year!

Thank you! It's one of my favorite Excel tricks.

Just found this and it saved me from a lot of frustration. The "backstage view" of Excel and Word 2013 is nearly useless and I wonder why Microsoft is hiding such a basic and important feature like the classic print preview from the general users.

I agree...the Backstage View was introduced in Excel 2010, and I was thrilled to find this hidden technique. It's always a winner when I teach it in Excel classes.