Visually show which cells are selected even when another application has focus
Currently, when I select one or more cells and then switch to another application, the boundary box and shading for the selected cells are not shown. Other Office applications exhibit this behavior as well--selection highlighting is only displayed when the program has focus. Many (most?) non-Office applications show the highlighting at all times.
It would be far more useful to be able to glance at the spreadsheet and see which cells are selected, even when working in another program.
Great suggestion E Bow. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about changes you’d like to see – we’re listening. We’ll take a look at this one. As always, folks should keep voting for the things they like the most – we’ll generally be prioritizing things according to the number of votes they get.
John [MS XL]
A free program called LibreOffice has this feature but a trillion dollar company's program doesn't.
Along those lines Yaron, given the MS penchant for forcing "normal" windows on one, I guess to better push Windows vs. DOS. (Good Lord... but... yeah), one would think that anything that did NOT encourage people to use windows vs. full-screen program windows would be considered anathema at MS. Multi-monitor should just increase that penchant because now people could just really see that ol' windowing technology shine with 30-40 programs running at once! Yay! People would dump DOS like it was a lead brick!
So one could wonder how this got past that "filter" and came to be left to lie for so long.
Yaron Y. Goland commented
I have two monitors for work and I often need to refer to a big Excel spreadsheet on one monitor to get facts I'm using on a window in a different monitor. From an accessibility perspective being able to highlight cells and keep them highlighted makes it easier for me to work since otherwise I'm forced to constantly search for the information I already found but lost the highlight on when I switched out of the window.
Great suggestion E Bow. There are a couple of other suggestions I'd like here too. When the mouse has been moved over another application window, the mouse scroll wheel still modifies the Excel Window and not the application under the mouse. This only happens in Excel, it doesn't happen in Word for example. And also, when you open a second Excel file through File Explorer, the previous Excel file application window temporarily takes windows focus, so when you do an [Alt]+[Tab] to switch back to File Explorer window you end up a the previous Excel file application window instead of File Explorer.
John Nicholl commented
They are clearly listening!
This would make my day so much easier, why cant excel just get it done,,,,it SIMPLE!!! just leave the row/column or cell I have clicked on highlighted if I have clicked onto another application! GET IT DONE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!
Ryan Hilliker commented
I expect Excel to continue to visually indicate selection, regardless of focus. When transposing data from a few dozen excel rows manually into another front-end, the lack of visual selection persistence decreases my productivity, increases my errors, and generally frustrates me. Please add an option to persist visual selection.
Here's a User Story to add to your backlog:
As a user, I expect to be able to select whole rows, whole columns, or individual cells using CTRL or SHIFT w/ a left-click and to have the visual selection of columns, rows, and cells persist while changing focus across other applications and windows. Persisting visual indicators of selected cells allows me to visually compare my selected data across applications.
@John [MS XL] 61322055-excel-team-msft
John, you responded in Nov 2015; since then you guys released office 16 and office 19, and neither version have ANY of numerous suggestions implemented.
Note, your competitors are continuously improving their products. It may be too late for msft to react when customers will turn away from msft considering office alternatives sufficiently featured.
I like the idea to keep selection visible also when not having focus, but it has to be also clearly visible which one has the focus, in order to prevent mistakes with copy/cut/paste operations.
(I often have the problem with Windows File Explorer, where it's not always clear whether the selected folder or the selected file in the folder is in focus.)
Gareth Hayter commented
FormulaDesk Navigator (disclosure: my add-in) adds this feature and also allows you to customise the highlighting (arrows, row/column highlighting, border, colors, transparency, line-thickness etc. It might prove useful until Microsoft adds this feature natively. Please let me know if you'd like to see any other features.
Funny thing is if we are several folks to work on the same worksheet, the selection box is not hidden for the others when loosing focus, only for me! So I can see what others are doing, but not what I'm doing...
Joey Quint commented
Excel used to do this in the past, and this is a BASIC feature. Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to remove this? Why do we need to VOTE to get this back, considering it's something basic?
Next thing you'll remove the ability to double click a cell to edit its content for whatever reason, and then wait until people vote to reintroduce it?
It is still not working. Now it is APRIL 2019 !
Thanks for taking the time to tell us about changes you’d like to see – we’re listening.
No you ain't.
We’ll take a look at this one.
No you won't.
Folks should keep voting for the things they like the most.
No we shouldn't.
We’ll generally be prioritizing things according to the number of votes they get.
No you won't.
John Nicholl commented
Yeah this has been on here nearly 4 years. So pleased they are listening. Excel is such a bad app. You ever tried opening another work book while your current workbook has a cell in edit mode!
Bachowny Plamborgs commented
This kind of thing just proves that Microsoft has absolutely no idea what users need. This is something that people will struggle with after about 5 minutes of using Excel and yet it seems like they are surprised that anyone might need this.
Yay, four year old Admin comment, bet this one is at the top of their list, no matter how many votes it gets, absolute top of their list, yes sir.
When the age of the Admin comment (assuming there even is one) gets near to being written in digits, not text, in proper English, you know they care very much.
Also the column heading and row number spaces have a slightly darker grey to indicate the selected cells. Please bring back the yellow/golden colors from 2007 or, even better, allow to choose it from the Options menu.
Mike D commented
This "Feature" is terribly inefficient when using multiple monitors. I am constantly working between multiple spreadsheets and the inability to see what I've selected in one while working in another increases my mistakes and makes me much less efficient. Having to put a finger on my screen or taking a screenshot of an open application is a clunky and obtrusive workaround for something that should be simple. It's a shame that someone spent time to make this work, in direct contrast with the native behavior of every other application I've used, but it's a counter-intuitive UI choice that burdens the end-user.