Little Known Techniques for Opening Excel Files

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Every Excel user knows how to open a spreadsheet: Click on File (or the whimsical Office button in Excel 2007), choose the Open command, select a file, and then click the Open button. In this article, I'll explain several hidden techniques that can give you more control over unfamiliar spreadsheets.

Before we get to the specifics on the hidden features, first double-click on the title bar of the Open dialog box in Excel. This expands the window so that you can see more files without scrolling from side-to-side. Simply double-click on it again to restore it to its traditional size. Next, click once on a file, and then click the arrow on the right edge of the Open button, as shown in Figure 1. Most users never realize that a menu exists here, which contains options that may vary based on your version of Excel:

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About David Ringstrom, CPA

David Ringstrom

David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.


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By BlkCrowe
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

So I stumbled across this article looking for a way to open an Excel document as Read-Only from a desktop shortcut. While not exactly what I was looking for (good info nonetheless), I found myself intrigued by the "Lock" and "Unlock" options on your context menu. What third-party app are these options for and, more importantly, what does they do?

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By David Ringstrom
to mandagor
Jun 26th 2015 01:11

You have sharp eyes there. The Lock/Unlock are for a fingerprint utility included on Toshiba laptops that allows you to limit access to documents.

Here are the steps involved in creating a read-only desktop shortcut for an Excel spreadsheet:

- Right-click on your desktop and choose New, and then Shortcut.

- Browse for the excel.exe file, typically somewhere along the lines of C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\EXCEL.EXE. Office14 is for Excel 2010, other versions will be Office 11, 12, or 15.

After you've selected the excel.exe file, add this to the Target field: /r "x:\file name.xls" where /r instructs Excel to open a file as read-only, and x:\file name.xls is the path to your file, which should be enclosed in quotes. Here's an example of what the whole target line would look like:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\EXCEL.EXE" /r "x:\file name.xls"

- Click Next to finish the wizard, and then assign a name for your shortcut.

Note: If you're using a 32-bit version of Excel in a 64-bit Windows environment, the path will be along the lines of "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\EXCEL.EXE".

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