Category Archives: General Update

Excel without a Mac

I sold my 15″ MacBook Pro yesterday and am waiting on a 21.5″ iMac to arrive in 2-3 weeks. So no more adventures with Excel 2011 for a bit.

Time to dust off the Dell desktop and reacquaint myself with the “real” Excel. That of the Windows variety. I’m putting Excel 2003 in my rear view mirror (finally) and will focus on Excel 2007 and 2010.

I would love to get Excel 2013 and test it out, but the Dell will need to be replaced this year so I’ll wait until I have a new PC. I would like it to be a PC / Tablet combo machine with Windows 8, but am going to wait until the dust settles on the new operating system.

When upgrading to a new version of Windows I usually make it a practice to wait until after “service pack 1” is released before making the switch.

So Excel without a Mac is a survivable condition when you have a Windows PC for a backup. The converse is not true. Having a Mac without Excel would be the worst form of torture. Living with Numbers is not, in my opinion, a survivable condition. Excel on a Mac is a challenge, but nirvana when compared to Numbers.

Which leads me to wonder when the next version of Excel for the Mac will come out. I have high expectations: Power Pivot, Name Manager, Evaluate Formula dialog box, Status Bar Functions that aren’t circa Excel 2003, and elimination of the Menu bar.

However, my expectations might just be the result of some wishful thinking rooted in a dream state.



Blog Comments and Inspiration

I’d like to thank everyone who has left a comment on this blog within the past year. It’s been a privilege to interact with some of you.

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I was partially employed. Consequently I had lots of time to spend learning how to write blog posts about a topic that I am relatively good at, and a desire to share my knowledge.


My big problem is that I am a perfectionist. I want to express myself clearly, about topics that can be quite complicated.

About a year ago I started a full time job, which includes a long commute. Obviously this impacted the amount of time available for blogging and my articles dwindled to a trickle.

Strangely enough, about the time I started my new job, the popularity of this blog began to take off. One practical effect of this is the increased number of reader comments.

Many of these comments require interaction on my part. Answering questions, looking up old articles (to remember what I had written) and locating those files (what was that file name?), and even going as far as looking at readers spreadsheets to help them solve a problem. All of which takes up time.

The comments I receive have made me consciously aware that I need to provide more content to my readers, and on a consistent basis. (I believe that’s my Conscience talking). So I’ve resolved to do just that by publicly declaring that I’ll write at least one article per week.

In doing so I may have to lose some of my perfectionism, but I still have standards. My next article will solve the problem of not having the Control+Home keyboard shortcut on a Mac.

Hopefully you all will stay tuned.

Excel 2010 icon

An Excel Crossroads – Mac and Windows

Excel 2010 iconI bought a MacBook Pro and installed Windows 7 with Boot Camp Assistant so I could access the “normal” Excel. This was important to me at the time because I was doing Excel development work in versions 2003, 2007 and 2010 on a Windows PC.

MacBook ProI love my MacBook Pro, which I consider my computer of the future. It’s great for dealing with Photos, Movies, Music, and all of my iOS devices.

I purchased the Mac versions of Excel (2008 and 2011) but they seem like a mixture of the three Excel versions mentioned above, and can be very frustrating at times. There are a few things missing in the latest Excel Mac version, like the Name Manager and the Evaluate Formula dialog box, to name just two.

Despite these shortcomings, I’m seriously thinking about selling my desktop PC and going exclusively with the Mac. That’s the crossroads I’m at right now. Letting go of the PC, but keeping the Windows versions of Excel.

My Hangups

BootCamp allows me to run Windows, and the Excel versions I need, but is very restrictive in the sense that I have to shut down my Mac, then restart with BootCamp to run Windows 7. This is a real pain in the you-know-what.

There are other problems with running Windows on a Mac. For instance, I haven’t been able to get my Apple Magic Mouse to work with Windows 7. (Go figure.) And using Dropbox was the best way to get Excel files between Windows 7 and Mac OS X.

My Saving Grace

All of those issues were solved when I purchased the Parallels Desktop software for Mac. Now I can switch to Windows without having to shut down Mac OS X Lion. That’s just plain awesome!

I’m still getting used to how Parallels works, but this software is easily worth the purchase price. And my Apple Magic Mouse, just works.

Parallels Desktop on my MacBook Pro

Here’s a screen shot of the Parallels Desktop open on my MacBook Pro. You can see that I have Microsoft 2010 (Windows) open, but I want you to notice that I also have the Finder dialog box open.

Parallels Desktop

I dragged the Card Size Lookup.xlsx file from Finder onto the Excel 2010 (Windows) program and it opened. I then made a change to the spreadsheet and saved it. The file was saved back on my Mac from whence it came. This is the miracle of modern technology.

I still have lots of testing to do but it looks like the Parallels Desktop has made my life much, much easier. I know now which way to turn at the crossroads.

Microsoft Office on the iPad

Over the past two days there has been talk of Microsoft coming out with a version of Office for the iPad in 2012. I for one would happily purchase the Excel part of this package, assuming the price point is similar to that of Apple’s Numbers app at $9.99 USD.

If, like me, you started with Excel and then tried Numbers. Well, it’s unique. And not Excel.

DocsToGo Premium Spreadsheet on iPadI have the Documents To Go Premium – Office Suite universal app for the iPad and iPhone that works with Excel files, but this Premium version is required to support file sharing and costs $16.99 USD. It works okay and I use it when necessary. But it’s not Excel.

So I have high hopes for an Excel app on the iPad that does lots of wonderful things.

We can always dream.

My Short Hiatus

I broke with my usual posting frequency this week because I’ve been dealing with some plagiarism on my other website. I found out there’s such a thing as content scraping, which of course can be defeated. However, all of that took time and energy away from this blog, which was regrettable.

Plagiarism Today Tagline

Every Excel blog I’ve visited or subscribe to has always given other Excel blogs proper attribution for content. That’s how it’s supposed to work. There’s enough Excel traffic on the web for everyone. It’s not a zero-sum game.

If you subscribe by RSS or email you may notice some copyright terms at the bottom of myfeed. That too is a result of having all my content temporarily stolen. It shouldn’t interfere with anything, just a necessary evil.


Putting Windows 7 on a Mac to Run Excel for Windows

I bought my first Mac almost 11 months ago and now comes the moment of truth. I need to go on the road and take my MacBook Pro with me, but also need to take several versions of Excel for Windows (2010, 2007, 2003) to validate and tweak an Excel reporting package.

Note: Cross posted at vLatte Tech Life

The Boot Camp Assistant allows me to partition hard drive space on my MacBook Pro and install Windows. So when I got the following message to create a partition for Windows on my Mac it just felt WRONG.

Create Partition on Mac for Windows

But the scary part was right before I began the Windows installation, with the realization of what I was about to do to my MacBook Pro.

Start Windows Installation on Mac

Thankfully the installation went off without a hitch, yet was slower than pouring molasses in winter. Especially when three updates for Windows 7 had to happen in succession with a restart between each.

A slight problem was not being able to eject the Windows 7 disk because the Mac-specific drivers hadn’t been loaded yet so I shut down Windows 7, and booted up with Mac OS X to get the disk out. After shutting down and restarting Windows 7, I loaded the Mac OS X installation disk and the Boot Camp Assistant then loaded all the drivers for my MacBook Pro.

All of this was done with the help of two references. I used a Gizmodo article as an overiew to the process, How to Survive Boot Camp (and Run Win 7 on a Mac), and during the disk partitioning and Windows installation I used Apple’s Boot Camp Installation and Setup Guide.

You can set the default operating system for your computer using Startup Disk preferences in Mac OS X, or the Boot Camp control panel in Windows. You can also select which operating system to use during startup by holding down the Option key.

Startup System on the Mac

I immediately downloaded Firefox to replace Internet Explorer as my browser of choice. Of course then I needed to load a couple of browser extensions, LastPass and Xmarks, to get my passwords and bookmarks.

The Windows 7 disk partition must be in NTFS format so you can’t save files to the Windows part of the disk from Mac OS X. Consequently I installed Dropbox on the Windows disk and set up my Dropbox account to sync only with a few folders since my disk space is limited.

My only true aggravation is Apple’s Magic Mouse doesn’t work when running Windows 7.

Installing Excel with some Quick Modifications

I loaded three Excel for Windows programs: 2003, 2007 and 2010, which was uneventful. They all certainly looked brand new with no alterations to any of the settings.

For all three versions, I set the number of sheets in new workbooks to one (1). Here’s how. In Excel 2010 choose File Options and selected the Save tab to get to this setting. In Excel 2007 choose Office Button > Excel Options the select the Save tab. In Excel 2003 choose Tools > Options then click the General tab to find the setting.

The other quick thing I did was add some commands to the Quick Access toolbar in Excel 2010 and 2007. Here’s how. Right click the Quick Access Toolbar, then select Customize the Quick Access Toolbar from the pop-up menu. In the Choose commands from: drop-down list I selected All Commands, then picked my favorite commands from the left and added then to the right window, and clicked OK.

Quick Access Toolbar 2010

Additions QAT 2010

Here are my additions to the Quick Access Toolbar:

Print Preview and Print (2010)
Print Preview (2007)
Format Painter
Paste Values
Freeze Panes
Switch Windows
Wrap Text

For Excel 2003 I had to expand the menus because all menus are abreviated by default, then after a few seconds they automatically expand. It’s enough to drive you nuts. Here’s how I fixed that annoyance. Choose View > Toolbars . Customize, then select the Options tab, and click the checkbox for Always show full menus.

Top 10 Articles for 2010

The year started for Excel Semi-Pro with my first article on 15 June, 2010. Thanks to you all for visiting my site to see what’s cooking with Excel.

According to my Site Stats, here are the top 10 articles this year.

  1. Become the OFFSET Function and Tell a Short Story
  2. Excel 2011 for Mac – Installation, Preferences, and VBA
  3. Excel Files on the iPad or iPhone
  4. Start a New Line Inside a Spreadsheet Cell in Excel
  5. Convert Seconds to a Time Format in Excel
  6. Stock Price Formula in a Spreadsheet
  7. Microsoft Excel Date Systems for Windows and Mac
  8. Excel 2011 Ribbon Screen Shots
  9. Switch Between Workbooks Faster in Excel 2007 and 2010
  10. Date and Time Calculation in Excel

Happy Holidays to everyone.

Excel Semi-Pro Microblog Started

I’ve started Excel Semi-Pro Microblog on Tumblr to share Excel related stuff in a slightly different format. Each post is broadcast on my Twitter account @ExcelSemiPro so you can pick up the link there, or if your have a Tumblr account you can subscribe, and then there’s always the ever popular RSS feed, or an email subscription.

Anyway, below is what Feedburner calls a Buzz Boost, which is to say the three most current articles from Excel Semi-Pro Microblog are shown below. Click on a link to check it out. I just purchase a new theme that’s easy on the eyes.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

My Spreadsheet Challenge Picture

Here’s the picture I entered for the Spreadsheet Challenge.

ESP Spreadsheet Challenge Picture

I’ll point out the obvious and not so obvious stuff in this picture.

  • Me
  • Two monitors showing Excel 2007, Excel 2003, and Excel 2010 spreadsheets, and
  • PDF versions of Excel 2007 Formulas, Excel 2003 Power Programming with VBA, and Excel 2010 Bible
  • A MacBook Pro showing Excel 2011 and Excel 2008 spreadsheets
  • An iPad showing the Documents To Go® Premium App with a spreadsheet open

And hopefully that’s going to get me a prize. 🙂 o_O

Feed Problems

Tech ManI normally like to have the entire post show up in the Feed or email you get, but here recently they’ve been truncated and I’m not sure why. This, of course, requires you to click through to my site to read the rest of the article.

I subscribe to many, many feeds and abhor having to click through to read the entire article (see LifeHacker) so this is not my intention. Bear with me while I try and figure this out.

Feedburner or Plugins? That’s the Question

I’ve checked all my Feedburner settings like five times, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem. There are a couple of plugins that I recently installed that may be causing the issue. One is WP Socializer that shows the icons for Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Delicious, and Google Buzz.

Tumblr Feed Problems

I’m also having issues with Feedburner and Tumblr. If you follow me on Twitter you know that I’ve started a new mini-blog on Tumblr at that’s intended to share blurbs that are too small for a blog article and too long for tweets on Twitter.

The Tumblr feed isn’t working and I’m stumped there too.

Excel for Mac 2011 Available for Pre-Order

Excel for Mac 2011 will be released October 26th and is available for pre-order on Amazon now. I’m excited about the return of VBA.

Pre-order your copy of Excel for Mac 2011 now. (affiliate link)

In the video below they discuss Office for Mac 2011, but at one point they mention a beta tester generating a chart in Excel 2008 that took 28-29 seconds, yet in Excel 2011 took less than one second.

Save Time Entering Decimal Points in Excel

When your stuck entering a lot decimal places, have Excel make your life a little easier by entering them for you automatically.

To set a fixed number of decimal places, go to Excel Options, Advanced tab, check Automatically Insert a Decimal Point, and set the Places box to the proper number of decimal places, then click OK. (In Excel 2003 and in Excel 2008 for Mac go to the Edit tab to find this option)

The current data in the worksheet will not be affected.

Advanced Options Decimal Points

Once this option is turned on entering 4836 becomes 0.4836 and entering 10345 becomes 1.0345. A neat way to avoid entering the decimal point.

When your done, just turn off the option and everything goes back to normal.  Sweet!

Excel 2003 Fixed Decimal Places

Fixed Decimal Places Excel 2003

Excel 2008 Fixed Decimal Places

Fixed Decimal Places Excel 2008

Number Format Shortcut in Excel

I must be dense. All these years I’ve had one main gripe about Excel and that’s always having to format numbers with a thousands separator and two decimal places, and no easy way to do it.


Now I find out there’s been a shortcut for it all along.



I found the shortcut in Excel 2010 Bible, but it’s even in Excel 2003 books.

What a moron I’ve been!

Excel Files on the iPad or iPhone

Documents To Go® Premium lets me open and modify Excel files from my Dropbox folder right on my iPad or iPhone. I can also access and modify spreadsheets from my Google Docs account.

DocsToGo Premium Spreadsheet on iPad

Excel email attachments can be downloaded, viewed and edited. This is a big plus when traveling with the iPad, or iPhone for that matter.

I have an Excel file in Dropbox that serves as a reference and is password protected. Docs To Go® Premium opens this file and is the reason I purchased it.

The app has 111 functions and while this seems like a lot, one file opens in Read Only mode because several functions are not supported: COUNTIF, TEXT, SUBTOTAL. Not exactly uncommon formulas. I hope they expand the function list in the future.

In addition to online files, you can have local files on your device, which are accessible in iTunes. There’s an option to sync files with your computer, but requires a desktop app (Win & Mac) to sync over Wi-Fi.  I haven’t tried this out as of yet.

DocsToGo Premium File Locations

The non-premium version is available for $9.99 USD, but it doesn’t support file access to Dropbox. Documents To Go® Premium is $14.99 USD and seems pretty steep, but you also get Word and PowerPoint editing, and can view PDF and iWork files.

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