What’s New in Excel 2013

By now, you should know that with each new release, Microsoft quietly piles on new features for its flagship spreadsheet tool. Sometimes however, we find that a few of those additional features actually make the tool more complex and cumbersome to work through. Not to fear! New for 2013, Microsoft Excel has a few features & tools that make working on your taxes (yuck!) or something similar, easier, take less of your time, and cause you less of a headache. Let’s talk about 5 features new for Excel 2013.

1. The New Start Screen

Windows 8 brought some hefty changes to the Windows platform, (think simplification, flat design, clean lines) and at first thought, you might think that those changes would trickle down into the Redmond giant’s world renowned suite of office applications. And in part, you would be right! But in some cases, those changes can make life a lot easier. Enter the new start screen new for Excel 2013.

When you open Excel 2013 for the very first time, a lovely and streamlined Start Screen will greet you. You’ll have the ability to open recently created and edited workbooks, find other workbooks on your computer, and of course, quickly create new workbooks.

You will also have convenient access to workbook templates and you can even search for online template options straight from the start screen. Quick Tip: Pin your favorite templates for future use and convenience.

On the top right corner of your screen you’ll have links and information pertaining to your logged in SkyDrive or SharePoint account.

Some may not like being greeted by the over eager start screen in Excel 2013, and for those of you, disabling the start screen is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Under the file menu in any workbook, click the “Options” button at the very bottom, and under the general tab, uncheck “Show start screen when this application starts”. Click “OK” to confirm, and you are done!

 2. Backstage View Is Refreshed

For those of you who are coming from Excel 2010, you’ll be familiar with backstage. For all you other readers out there, the backstage view is where you manage your documents and data related to those documents. Whether it’s creating, sending, saving, inspecting documents for metadata or personal information, setting options such as turning off and on AutoComplete suggestions, etc. The backstage view gives you the ability to work with your documents in many ways.

For Office Excel 2013, the backstage view is still accessible from the “File” menu, and has been revamped to give you an overview of what you are currently doing so you can choose the task most appropriate. The open tab now combines recent accessed and other workbooks, streamlining the interface (we’re seeing a lot of that, and it’s much appreciated). You can pin any worksheets to this list or look through your computer for other workbooks. Access to your SkyDrive account is provided through this window as well. On the left you can find access to other commonly needed tools and options. Thank you Backstage view!

3. Flash Fill Tool

Simply put, the flash fill tool is a predictive data entry tool used to detect patterns and extract and enter data that is following a recognizable pattern. This is a perfect tool to solve some common problems we all face that usually require awkward workarounds.

An example of this is extracting a person’s first name from a column of full names. In a blank column next to the one that contains full names, all you have to do is type the first name and then click the Home tab, and select Fill, Flash Fill. The first names of every single person on the list will be entered into that column with no other work from you. Wowza is right!

You can use the same process to extract last names, days or years from dates, and even extract values from cells.  Formulas of course can achieve similar results, but come on, who doesn’t like a tool that does the heavy lifting for you?

 4. Chart Tools Simplified

In older versions of Excel, when you selected a chart, the “Chart Tools” came to the forefront with three additional tabs, which were Design, Layout, and Format.

This layout has been trimmed down to just the Design and Format tabs in Excel 2013, but don’t you worry, we actually have a set of new icons that pop up on the edge of a chart that is currently selected that read “Chart Elements”, “Chart Filters”, and “Chart Styles”.

You can select any of these buttons to reveal new formatting options, such as adding or removing elements, changing the style and colors of your chart, and even viewing filtered data using a live preview option.

 5. Cloud File Support Expanded

In Excel 2013, you are given the ability to simply save all files in the cloud for easy control from all devices connected to your SkyDrive or SharePoint account. The File-Save and File-Open screens let you add your SkyDrive or SharePoint team site for quick saving of your workbooks. This allows you to access any of your documents from your Windows tablets and smartphones, as well as laptop and desktop PCs. The last goodie is the ability to view, review, edit and save your documents online with almost any web browser with Office 365.

So there you have it! 5 new features and refreshes found only in Microsoft Office Excel 2013 that will make your life a little bit easier, simplified, and coherent.  Just like Windows 8.

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 6:00 am

Categories: Excel 2013, Office 2013

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