You probably don't want to think about how many times you access the File menu in Excel 2010 or 2013. Personally I think Excel 2010 has the best possible File menu arrangement, other than having Print Preview grafted onto it (but you can fix that). I feel that we lost ground in Excel 2013 because frequent actions like Opening and Saving files require extra mouse clicks that result in additional wear-and-tear on your wrists. In this article I'll share a few tricks you can use to take back a tiny portion of your day.
The tricks that I'm going to share mostly relate to Excel 2013, but there are two that are applicable to Excel 2010 as well. First, let's see how we've lost ground in Excel 2013 as compared with Excel 2010. Figure 1 shows that you can get to the Open dialog box in two clicks in Excel 2010 (steps A and B), but the same action can require up to four mouse clicks in Excel 2013 (steps 1 through 4).
Figure 1: Getting to the Open dialog box in Excel 2013 can take up to four mouse clicks!
Of course, savvy Excel users have long relied on the Ctrl-O keyboard shortcut to launch an Open dialog box from anywhere in Excel. This works without issue in Excel 2010 and earlier, but by default in Excel 2013 pressing Ctrl-O doesn't display an Open dialog box. Instead, it launches the File menu, from which you'll then have to navigate your way to the Open dialog box. You can easily fix this, as shown in Figure 2:
- Excel 2013: Choose File, Options, Save, click the checkbox for Don't Show the Backstage When Opening or Saving Files, and then click OK.
You'll now be able to press Ctrl-S to save your files directly in Excel 2013 instead of being shown the File menu. This is a new "feature" in Excel 2013 that isn't available in the earlier versions of Excel.
Figure 2: Clear the checkbox "Don't Show the Backstage When Opening or Saving Files" to restore the typical functionality the Ctrl-O and Ctrl-S keyboard shortcuts.
Even though I realize I could press Ctrl-O to get to an Open dialog box, sometimes I have my hand on the mouse and so it just makes sense to click on the File menu. In Excel 2013, if you're working in a new, unsaved workbook, then you'll see the Open menu immediately when you click File. However, you must still click Computer, and then Browse to get to an Open dialog box. Shave a step off of this process by double-clicking Computer, as shown in Figure 3, to get to the Open dialog box without clicking the Browse button.
For unknown reasons, if you're working in a document that you've saved in Excel 2013, clicking on File does not show you the Open menu, but instead displays the Info tab. To open another document you must perform an extra step of clicking the Open command before you can double-click Computer to get to the Open dialog box.
Figure 3: Double-click on Computer to view the Open dialog box.
Another place where you can double-click to save a step in both Excel 2010 and 2013 can be found in emailing workbooks and creating PDF versions of a document, as shown in Figure 4.
- Excel 2010: Choose File, Save & Send, and then double-click Send Using Email to skip the Send As Attachment button.
- Excel 2013: Choose File, Share, and then double-click Email to skip the Send as Attachment button.
These two scenarios assume that you want to email the document as an Excel workbook. You'll need to actually click the buttons to the right if your goal is to send as PDF, XPS, or Internet Fax.
Figure 4: Double-click on Email to skip clicking on the Send as Attachment button.
Similarly, you can shave a step off of saving a document as a PDF file, as illustrated in Figure 5:
- Excel 2010: Choose File, Save & Send, and then double-click Create PDF/XPS Document to skip the Create PDF/XPS button.
- Excel 2013: Choose File, Export, and then double-click Create PDF/XPS Document button to skip the Create PDF/XPS button.
Figure 5: Double-click on Create PDF/XPS Document button to skip the Create PDF/XPS button.
Of course, my preferred method for saving a spreadsheet as a PDF file is to choose File, Save As, double-click the Computer button, and then choose PDF from the File Type list, as shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Follow these steps to save a spreadsheet as a PDF file.
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, teaches webcasts for CPE Link, and writes freelance articles on Excel for AccountingWEB, Going Concern, et.al.
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.