From time to time, you probably get stymied in Excel and think",I'll just look in the help file." Doing so is as simple as pressing F1 or clicking the question mark icon that appears in the upper right-hand corner of Excel 2007 and later. However, you might end up waiting several seconds for the help window to appear. In this article, I'll explain how you can eliminate this annoying wait that can break your stride.
When you access Microsoft Excel's help window, the content is typically derived from a remote server on the Internet. This, in turn, can cause a delay while the help window loads.
Microsoft's intent is to ensure that you have access to the latest help documentation regarding their products. Using the online help files also allows Microsoft to monitor what topics users request help on. Regardless, you may find it much faster to use the help files stored on your computer. To do so, press F1 to display Help and then follow the steps for your version of Excel:
Excel 2013:As shown in Figure 1, click the arrow next to Excel Help and then choose Excel Help from your computer.
Figure 1: Speed up Excel 2013's Help by using files stored on your computer.
Excel 2010: As shown in Figure 2, click the button in the bottom right-hand corner of the Help screen and then choose Show content only from this computer.
Figure 2: Speed up Excel 2010's Help by searching locally installed help files.
Excel 2007: As shown in Figure 3, click the button in the bottom right-hand corner of the Help screen and then choose Show content only from this computer.
Figure 3: Configure Excel 2007's offline help in the same fashion as Excel 2010.
Excel 2003 and earlier:As shown in Figure 4, choose Online Content Settings, turn off Show Content and Links from Microsoft Office Online, click OK, and then close and reopen Microsoft Excel so that the change will take effect.
Figure 4: You can configure Excel 2003 and earlier to use offline help files installed on your computer.
The above settings can be particularly helpful if you're sometimes away from the Internet when using Microsoft Excel. Even if you have a speedy Internet connection at the office, it can take Excel a few beats before it determines that your computer isn't online and then finally displays the local help documentation.
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.