60-Second Skills #9: Seeing More At Once In Excel With “Dashboarding”

by Bruce Kirsch on August 31, 2012

Usually it’s hard to excited about things in Excel, but there are a few exceptions. This is one of them.

Previously I wrote about the Watch Window as a good way to keep an eye on values on a tab other than the currently active tab, but I have always been a little annoyed by having to move the floating Watch Window around so it didn’t block things, and I never liked that I had to specify each value to be monitored individually.

The other day I came across perhaps the single most helpful Excel secret of all time — what we at REFM call Excel’s Double Vision Dashboarding capability.

What it is. The ability to view more than one tab of the active spreadsheet simultaneously.

When it would be helpful. You are adjusting assumptions on the Assumptions tab, and want to see how the Cash Flow tab lines are reacting in real time without having to flip to the Cash Flow tab and lose sight of the Assumptions tab.

This is what you would see (click image to enlarge).

Double Vision Dashboarding gives you more clarity into the impact of changing your inputs.

The good news is that you can apply this across a single monitor, OR across a double-monitor setup. For the latter, assuming the Excel window launches by default in your left-hand monitor, simply resize your Excel program window so it is no longer maximized in the left-hand window, but still consuming most of the screen area, and then click and drag the right side of the window all the way across to the right edge of the right-hand monitor. Whoa… Now you’ve got a REAL dashboard going on!

To activate Excel’s Double Vision Dashboarding, follow these steps:

1. Open a file.

2. On the View tab of the ribbon, click New Window. At this point, Excel creates a second instance of the file. It will display this as FileName:2 in the header bar of the window, and the original instance of the file as FileName:1.

3. On the View tab, click Arrange All, and then select Vertical, and click to select Windows of active workbook. Now you can make changes in either or both, and they will be reflected in both windows.

4. When you are done, X out of the window that is FileName:2; At this point, the FileName:1 will revert back to simply FileName.


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