Sometimes a great feature in an application never gets the credit it deserves, and Excel’s viewport is a great example of one such feature.
If you use Excel regularly, you’ve probably worked with very large worksheets, spanning hundreds if not thousands of lines. It would be helpful if some of the cells that you need to track often could be displayed in a separate window so you can see the current value and formula at a glance. Microsoft has created a watch window in Excel for this very purpose.
Use the Excel view window
Using the viewport, you can select important cells in a separate window and keep track of them there, which saves you the trouble of scrolling through the entire worksheet.
Let’s take a look at an example below. Let’s say this data is part of a much larger dataset, and we want to keep track of a few important cells that change quite often.
Click the Formulas tab on the Ribbon and find the Watch Window button under the Formula Auditing section.
This will open the Watch Window dialog. The field is of course empty as we haven’t added any tracking cells yet.
Now let’s add a cell to the viewport. To do this, click the Add Observation link at the top of the dialog box.
In the Add Observation dialog box, you can select cells in one of two ways. You can enter a cell reference directly or select cells with your mouse. Entering data into cells directly is useful when you only have one or two cells that you want to track.
However, you are not limited to selecting only one or a few cells at a time. You can add adjacent cells to the viewport by clicking and dragging your mouse to select a series of cells. When you’re done, click the Add button.
You will notice a few things after you add cells to the viewport. First, Excel started monitoring cells. Any changes to the value or formula for that cell are immediately displayed in the viewport.
Second, the viewport also tells you other important information about the cells, including the workbook and worksheet the cells are in, and the cell name if you gave it.
Optionally, you can even drag the viewport to one of the sides of Excel to dock it so it doesn’t take up valuable space on the floating sheet.
You can add cells from other sheets to the same Excel workbook, but you cannot add cells from another workbook. Each book has its own separate viewport. If you’re working with large spreadsheets, the Watch Window saves real-time time and is likely to increase your productivity, allowing you to spend more time working and less time browsing in Excel. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment. Enjoy!
Also, don’t forget to check out my other Excel articles where you can learn how to filter data, insert an Excel spreadsheet in Word, open multiple instances of Excel, track changes in Excel, and subtract dates in Excel