recaps of the top 'ask me anything' interviews from reddit and more...
We are the Microsoft Excel team - Ask Us Anything!

<Edit> We are bringing this AMA session to a close. We will scrub through any remaining top questions in the next few days.

THANK YOU for all the great questions, looking forward to our next AMA.

Hello from the Microsoft Excel team! We are very excited for our 3rd AMA. After some cool product announcements this week we thought you might have some questions for us.

We are the team that designs, implements, and tests Excel & Power BI. We have 20+ people in the room with a combined 400+ years of product knowledge. Our engineers and program managers with deep experience across the product primed and ready to answer any of your questions.

Want to see what is new in Excel, check out this recording from the Microsoft Ignite session What is new in Excel.

We'll start answering questions at 9:30 AM PST / 12:30 EDT and continue until 10:30 AM PST.

After this AMA, you may have future help type questions that come up. You can still ask these normal Excel questions in the /r/excel subreddit.

Excel resources and feature requests: Excel Community | Excel Feedback | Excel Blog

The post can be verified here on Twitter

  • the Excel Team

October 18th 2017
interview date

Hello from the Mod Team at /r/excel!

Will you ever integrate other languages, such as python, into Excel, to complement VBA?

Also, will SQL be integrated better into Excel? The current query viewer is poor, compared to other environments.


Hi Mod Team, thanks for all your hard work!

Lots of options here so folks are aware.. there're several ways to use Python with Excel today already using great open source (including Pandas!) and partner solutions, and through the Microsoft Graph. We also announced ability for Excel to call out to Azure Machine Learning models that could host R or Python within them.

We're working hard to extend the programmability surface area to make sure developers can build very rich solutions that run across platforms, and have been releasing these every month.

For scripting in other languages, yes, this is something we're exploring. Would love the feedback on our User Voice site:

Thanks! - Ash (Microsoft)


Can you create an option to prevent CSV files opening and dropping the leading zeros?


We hear you, and are investigating making this option easier. We'd love if you could vote for this request that helps us with planning.

It is possible to do this today using the Get Data feature. Go to Data tab of ribbon -> from text/csv -> choose your file from Explorer -> click Edit to go to the Query Editor -> under Applied Steps delete Changed Type (to remove the autoformat to number). From the ribbon, press on "Close and Load". Use Get Data to load the file after that - Excel will remember to load the same transforms applied to this file in the future so it will "just work". - Urmi [Microsoft]


Thanks for making such an awesome tool! I use it every day. A couple questions:

  • What are the most interesting or strange uses of Excel you've seen?

  • What feature or function would make the biggest difference in peoples lives if only they knew it existed?

  • Any chance of an update to the VBA editor? I'm not talking anything crazy, but line numbers for reference would be nice. I maintain lots of old spreadsheets, so I won't be transitioning away from VBA anytime soon unfortunately.


Thank you for your comments! Answers to your questions below:

  1. We have a few answers for this question already here

  2. My personal favorite is the new Get & Transform (aka Power Query) functionality, I think this would make a huge difference. We know from our research, that a lot of time is spent cleaning and shaping data before being able to analyze it, Get & Transform makes this super easy. You can learn more here. Other key ones include PivotTables, Conditional Formatting, and a handful of functions (e.g. IF, TEXTJOIN, INDEX/MATCH/VLOOKUP)

  3. We love VBA, and we appreciate the broad user base, and impact it continues to have in the world. That said, we have nothing to announce in this space right now. For more context here is a link to an in-depth perspective about VBA and how we think about extensibility in general See VBA.

Carlos [Microsoft]


Thanks for doing the AMA. I have a question about a VERY simple yet useful feature that magically disappeared for recent versions.

I have 2 spreadsheets open side by side. I highlight several cells and get the 'sum' of the numbers, which shows in the bottom Status bar. I click onto the second spreadsheet to type that number. The sum in the Status bar below disappears from the first spreadsheet.

This used to never happen and whatever I had highlighted would remain in the taskbar at the bottom while I clicked the other spreadsheet. This would help me transfer new data from one spreadsheet to another, but now I need to manually add a =sum() in the first spreadsheet so that it shows it physically.



Are you on Windows? Open your first file. Then open a separate Excel process by going to Start > Run and type excel /x Then open the second file. Let me know if it works! -Dave [Microsoft]


Why can't the auto-scientific notation default be disabled?


I know that it can be frustrating entering values and having this happen. We are investigating what we can do to make this better.  You can help by Voting for this issue. For now, you can select a range and format as text prior to entering the bar codes / id numbers. -Eric [Microsoft]


Always been curious, why do column width and row height use different units for measurements, with the pixels in parenthesis? What even are the units? If you want a cell to be square or any certain ratio, you need to do it based on the pixels.


It's complicated. The units for column width are characters. Row heights are in points. Here's a good article about how Excel determines column widths. - Steve [Microsoft]


Do you guys have a preference internally between A1 and R1C1?

Also, what new features are you most excited to introduce into Excel that you're able to talk about?


Depends on what you mean by "preference". Internally, references are parsed to just row and column numbers, and so the distinction between R1C1 and A1 goes away. It's only when parsing formulas or displaying them back to the user that A1 versus R1C1 applies. -Jeff[Microsoft]


1. Any plans for Cortana?
2. What are the major changes in Excel 2019?
3. Have you guys seen this?

Thank you, appriciate the AMA

  1. it is a great idea (a partner already created a prototype).
  2. We have not fully locked the feature list yet, but we will post it to our Excel Blog as soon as we do

  3. Yes, have you seen this


Have you ever considered integrating excel formulas into other Microsoft Office tables? Whenever I work on a table in OneNote or Word I find myself wanting to type =sum()


Word has some basic formula capabilities ...



What are your favourite examples of people using Excel for unusual things?


I used it to calculate a nice curve for the top of the fence I built in my back yard. I plotted the natural heights of the posts, and then did a 5th order polynomial fit, and then adjusted the fence height to that curve. -Jeff[Microsoft]


Hey guys,

Is there a way to key into a cell with the writing prompt at the end of the text already in there, so you can add on to it instead of overwriting it?

Edit: Glad there's more people like me.


Yes you can, using F2 shortcut.

Olaf (Microsoft)


Why does Excel autofit text box (resize shape to fit text) not work for new text boxes created using Office 365?


Oops, looks like this is a bug. Thanks for reporting, we will look at this right away - Sanjay[Microsoft]


Hi guys!

Do you miss me?!


Some days, but fortunately they let you out of the Microsoft Archives some days and we get to see you around campus. -Ben[Microsoft]


What is the most amazing thing you've done with Excel?


In a prior life, I did a stint as an analyst within a corporate Fraud Investigation Unit. Using Excel, we identified a conflict of interest situation where an employee of the accounts payable department was hiring a family member for work. We found this by using a combination of Text and Lookup functions (INDEX/MATCH/VLOOKUP) comparing addresses and phone numbers between employees and vendors. This resulted in the employee getting fired and having to pay back multiple thousands of dollars back to the company. It wasn’t necessarily a very complex workbook, but it had a significant impact. -Carlos [Microsoft]




Not sure, maybe volatile functions or an add-in / code that is running?



I know it's not the intended purpose of excel, but excel games made otherwise boring days behind my desk wonderful. So thank you for that.

What excel features both built-in or not do you wish more people knew about/or knew how to use?


I love seeing what kind of creative things people come up with in Excel! It makes learning it so much more fun.

For features, mine is PivotTables, especially creating table relationships with the Data Model. Smitty [MSFT]


When are we going to be able to play Doom on Excel?


In order to get Couath / Collab working, we had to deprioritize playing Doom in Excel. Maybe an Add-in will be made? - Michael [Microsoft]


Is it true that the Excel logo is an X (and a small L) instead of an E, to avoid this?


The Excel logo has been an X and an L longer than these other products have been around. -Eric[Microsoft]


When will the Mac version get multiprocessor support?


Thanks for the question - we are actively working on this, but you can add your vote to support it anyway on
- Steve [Microsoft]


Hello again from r/Excel! I asked this the last time, and I'm hoping I'll get an updated answer this time around:

Are there any plans to incorporate the .NET Framework directly into MS Office Suite Apps? We already have a VBE style visual editor in VS for the various languages. Are we able to get something like this to augment Excel that is even better integrated into windows than VBA? Right now the largest limitation to this is needing to convince IT departments that we would like VS installed to further improve applications and other extended services to Excel, rather than having it already built-in.

Currently we do have the inter-op services with the .NET Framework that lets us automate some aspects of Excel. But this entirely requires VS, which isn't built-in.


I cannot comment on the plans, but I'd note that you can use Excel interop from PowerShell, which, unlike VS, ships with Windows. - Alex [MSFT]


What's the best way for me to become the 'Excel Guy' at work?


I'm betting if you make sure to mention your love of Excel in every conversation you have at work you will quickly become the "Excel Guy". Most people I have found who become the expert at work find out how to create useful spreadsheets that get shared around the office. O r they help others use automation to avoid tedious repetitive tasks. -Ben[Microsoft]


VLookup or Index Match?


INDEX/MATCH - Once you get used to it, you can write them almost as fast as VLOOKUP, and the combination is more powerful/efficient. Smitty [MSFT]


How large is the Excel team compared to the other product teams (ie. Word, PowerPoint, Access, etc.)?


We are the XL team ;-)


What's the biggest mistake (or regret) thats happened within development?


Taking out u/Clippy_Office_Asst -Michael[Microsoft]


Is Excel on a path to compete with Google Sheets in terms of sharing and collaboration?


We already support co-authoring across PC, Online, Mac (for Insiders), Android and iOS. You can use OneDrive and OneDrive Business to easily share any Excel file and collaborate with other users on the platform of their choice! -Sanjay[Microsoft]


I've heard that a common hazing ritual on Wallstreet is to hide the new guys mouse. If he's good enough he should be able to do his job on excel using only hotkeys. If we were to take away your mice would you be able to do that?


You bet, including using Shift-F8 and F8 for multi range selections. The real pro's remove the F1 key from their keyboard :-)

Olaf (Microsoft)


Thanks for following up on this question from last year and your interest in expanding Power Pivot availability to other Office 365 subscriptions. We continue to consider expanding this feature more broadly. At this time, this is still in consideration but we do not have anything new to report. -Jen [Microsoft]


What's a function that you wish users knew a little more about/used more?


PivotTables! And creating table relationships with the Data Model.

Smitty [MSFT]


Was is something that absolutely drives you nuts when watching other people use Excel? What are your Excel Professional pet peeves?

  • Wanting one sheet for each day/week/month, and then needing VBA code to compile it all. Instead of putting it all in one sheet, and using PivotTables.
  • Entering punctuation for numbers, like $1,234, or (212) 555-1212, instead of properly formatting it. Smitty [MSFT]

Will there be another revamp to the user interface for Excel like what we saw from 2003 to 2007? Also any plans to incorporate big data analysis tools into Excel?


We continue to evaluate complexity vs simplicity for our interfaces and users are most welcome to request new changes through our user voice site.

For Big data analysis , we would point towards our new Get and Transform functionality that should easily help you analyze your big data.


Thanks so much for doing this AMA. Have you guys thought of a way to restructure the sheet-to-sheet navigation on workbooks with multiple worksheets to be able to more easily view all of the worksheets and jump to them (I'm thinking like about the way in Windows you have that neat-o cascading windows view using a the WindowsKey-Tab combination)?


Thanx for the question! Btw, have you considered trying our "Window View" functionality...

thanx, Prash[Microsoft]




Sorry for the extra work around this. While Excel has behaved this way a really long time, we are working to get this request prioritized - every vote that is casted helps vote here. To date we've been able to complete 20% of UserVoice requests by vote count.

In the meantime, there are a few workarounds available here such as custom number formats in this article. - Urmi [Microsoft]


I work in Logistics with several small to midsize companies and I am constantly sending these companies Excel workbooks. I work with Excel 2016 and I often hesitate to use new Excel features/functions in fear that my client’s are using an older version of Excel and may run into compatibility issues. Out of all the businesses that have Excel licenses, do you know roughly what % of these licenses fall into each version of Excel starting with Excel 2003 (2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016)? Any kind of estimation would be of great help.


A good way around this issue is using Excel online, so they will be able to see and consume it that way. Hope that helps.

Olaf (Microsoft)


What are the plans for introducing new functionality to non 365 versions of Excel? It seems like some of the new functions are available in Excel 2016 for 365 but not in the retail/OEM 2016.


New features are continually added to Office 365 subscriptions and perpetual versions of Office (e.g., Office 2010, Office 2013, and Office 2016) receive bug fixes and security patches but no new features. We recently announced another version of perpetual, Office 2019, will be released in the coming year which will have additional features beyond Office 2016. This feature set will be announced closer to the release. -Jen [Microsoft]


Hello team!

Will it ever be possible to include VBA functionality in the collaborative Excel Online version?

When building sheets for clients who use workbooks in a collaborative nature it is very restrictive as no VBA function will work.



You can use JavaScript API's. Check out ScriptLab, which is an add-in that lets you work with them directly in Excel: As it stands now, we're at about 1/3 parity with current VBA methods and procedures, and the team is working hard to add more all the time. Smitty [MSFT]


I have a class right now where learning excel makes up 1/3 of the curriculum of the class. How does it feel to have college classes taught on the things you guys develop?


very humbling

Olaf (Microsoft)


I have been told that Excel is the most commonly used tool in the world for data analytics. If so, why does it only provide the same graph types it had since Office 2007 (or maybe it's from 2003)?


We have added new charts in the last year, like Waterfall, Sunburst, Maps, ....


Can you smack around the Outlook team for me?


Done;) -Excel Team [Microsoft]


Any new features for Data Analytics??


Take a look at this session from Ignite, we covered some of the new analytics capabilities there.


For the love of God why do separate sheets share the same Ctrl+Z stack. I never understood this. why does Excel do this?


If you would like us to change this, please vote for the suggestion here. -Eric [Microsoft]




While there are multiple players in this space, Excel is best in class and shines in a number of areas including


Are there any plans to change how the clipboard is handled? It would be nice if making a small change to a cell didn't empty the clipboard.


Great News! Earlier this year we made the "Keep the Copy" feature available to Office 365 users. Now most edits in Excel don't remove the copy marquee. -Eric[Microsoft]


When are you going to add stories to excel and follow the big social media companies?

I’m just kidding.

If you’re part of this team, does this mean you permanently only work on excel? So are you doing 40 hours a week working on excel? How much to do could there possibly be on this one program? I guess, what’s a typical work week like?


Yes, we work 40 hours a week on Excel. Their is always a lot of work to be done, lot of new features users ask for and lot of new cool things we want to add.


Thank you for keeping keyboard shortcuts, though these do seem to be less and less user friendly with each major upgrade. When designing the interface, please try to make all major choices easy to use with keyboard only. (Fonts and colors, etc. are fine for mouse work).


Keyboard shortcuts are very important and we don't make changes lightly, so please let us know specifically which shortcuts have become less user-friendly so we can understand your comment better. - Steve [Microsoft]


What's the weirdest bug you've had to fix?


I did not personally fix this one, but Excel 2007 displaying 850*77.1 as 100000 was as weird as they come. - Alex [MSFT]


Google Sheets has 2 functions that Excel glaringly doesn't: - FILTER(): This is a better way to retrieve results than HLOOKUP, VLOOKUP, and INDEX(MATCH()). To be fair, this is available in Microsoft PowerApps. - Image(): You can tie an image to a cell in Google Sheets--how is this not possible in Excel yet?! I know MS listens, and there is a uservoice, but these are a long time coming.

My question is: what direction is Excel heading to keep it competitive against Google Sheets which currently doesn't have all the power of Excel... yet?


In general, we're committed to making Excel the best spreadsheet in the world. It's really exciting that we work in a space where there are other folks doing cool stuff. - Charlie [Microsoft]


Why can't I open two different workbooks with the same name at the same time?


I think this was originally done because we could not decide what book =[Book]Sheet!A1 refers to. - Alex [MSFT]


Any chance we will see an option for persistent slicers in a Power Bi report?

I guess bookmarks are close, but it would be awesome to just be able to designate a slicer as being persistent across the entire report or not.


Yeah, the Power BI team are working on this! We just changed the status of this idea to Started :) Go vote for it there and you'll get notified as we progress. We're also going to persist users' filter selections between sessions in the Power BI service.


In future versions of excel will there be the option to use Multiple Document Interface (MDI) instead of Single Document Interface (SDI) ? I have a very complex model that a consultant developed for us in Excel 2007 that no longer opens correctly when our organization switched to Excel 2013. The macros developed for it relied on the MDI and the switch to SDI stopped them from working.

I have seen other many other users with the same type of issue, but so far there has not been many answers or support on this issue.


Thanx for the question Joe! As it stands, there are no known plans to introduce MDI, that said feel free to add your vote on

You may also want to consider reviewing "Consideration for VBA code" in the following article

thanx, Prash[Microsoft]


Everytime I open a .xlsm file, my formula settings are switched to calculate manually. Why? When I go back to a normal .xlsx file, the setting is stuck on manual (until I go and change it back).

I'd love to know if this was intentional, and if so for what reason? And (most importantly) if I can do anything about it. Thank you!


The setting is saved with the file, if you switch it back to automatic and save it should stay in automatic. But because it is a Macro file it could be there is some code that sets it back to manual. See this support document for more info.


When do you plan on providing active directory authentication to Azure Data Warehouse?


We're working on this! It'll show up in Excel through 'Get and Transform Data' in the future, you'll probably see it in Power BI first.


Can we get a built-in linear interpolation formula for datasets? Interpolation formula that works like the FORECAST will be very useful.


Do you mean something like FORECAST.LINEAR? - Alex [MSFT]


At our company, we are given a list of info, that is then manually typed into 2 excel sheets. I was researching recently to no avail, if we could have an excel file with the inputs, that would populate into a other excel file?

This would make my life, that much easier.



Without knowing all the details, yes with Get & Transform your able to pull in data from other Excel files, clean it up, scrub it and auto refresh it.

Olaf (Microsoft)


Why can't I insert a row while I have cells on the clipboard? This drives me crazy on a daily basis!


Great news, we just added this. Shipped to Office 365 Excel and in production now.


Hi! First, you guys rock. Second, I have two questions!

  1. Are you guys going to keep the 2003 xml format & other old formats? I mean, yes, we have a number of npm-able js xlsx libraries, but in many cases, the simplicity & scale of that xml format trumps everything else.

  2. And I've always wondered: why isn't there an option to stop automatic stripping leading zeroes from data entered into Excel? (Aside from manually changing the cell type) Will there be? (I can & will beg). At my previous job, the leading problem in dealing with cleansing other people's data before adding to a warehouse or db was putting those zeroes back on applicable fields.


Regarding #2, data entered into cells is always parsed and stored in an internal data type - either text, number, true/false, formula, or error. The stripping of leading zeros is due to us parsing the data as a number. The internal representation of a number doesn't record anything about how it was initially entered. 02 is the same as 2 is the same as 2.0. If the leading zeros are important, the best current solution is to enter the data as text, either by prefixing a ' if entering manually, or selecting the text data type if importing the data. -Jeff[Microsoft]


Why is the print button hidden in the File screen? Why isn't it on the Home toolbar, or next to the Save icon at the very top?


You can add the Print button (or any other button) by customizing the Quick Access Toolbar (that little area near the save icon). Click on the little down-arrow on the right of the QAT in the most recent versions, or right-click on the QAT to customize it. Check out:

To explain the reasoning, when we re-organized the commands into the Ribbon, the idea was that we would put the document-level actions into the File space, and not into the Ribbon (including Home). - Charlie [Microsoft]


Why the hell is making the font in the drop downs bigger so damn hard?


You can add a suggestion for it on

We listen, and work on the top voted items. Smitty [MSFT]


20 minutes of scrolling and no one asked how to open 2 separate reports without having to open 2 separate instances of excel? All I want is to have an instance open and double click the second report to open and NOT have it open in the first instance.


We answered this one here


Do you plan on making Excel scroll via pixel instead of scroll via edges of the cells? Scrolling only by cell is the most annoying thing on the face of the planet! Please help!


that would be a great suggestion for our [UserVoice}( site


How much do you Excel?


Every day! Smitty [MSFT]


What's for dinner?


Waffles. They are grid-shaped. - Michael [MSFT]




When can the Mac versions natively support multi users? I know the online version does, but can we see this functionality come through on Office 360, or Dropbox? My business relies on a few guys using the same spreadsheet a lot and one sheet in particular uses macros once a week to update it. Seeing live updates would help us not move away from Excel. We'd really hate to! Thanks!


We have great news about this. It's coming soon, and the latest Insiders Fast preview allows you to work together on the same workbook already. You can read more about the update here - Major update to Office for Mac. -Steve [Microsoft]


Some of the old versions of Excel had some really cool Easter eggs (e.g. "The Hall of Tortured Souls"). Why haven't more recent versions? or is it that we just haven't found them yet?


We don't have any recent ones (unless someone has been sneaking them by me), but one of our favorites was in Excel 97

Though, we have been know to have a little fun on April 1st.



Hi Excel team. Excel and spreadsheets is the need of every person doing data crunching today. What was it that made Microsoft think a software was needed that has lots of boxes in it that people can fill in and this will be a real game changer? What led to the birth of Excel?


Check out this TED talk by Dan Bricklin, the guy who created electronic spreadsheets. Smitty [MSFT]


Does it ever make you sad that engineers the world over use Excel for things that really should be standalone programs, then complain that our 80+ mb spreadsheets are slow?


I would love to show them Get & Transform, so they can easily load millions of rows of data and really work with it in Excel.




If you want to do division, you need to use a formula. For instance, if you want two thirds, you have to enter =2/3. If you type 2/3, then yes, Excel will interpret it as a date. It's just a fundamental ambiguity. Some other user will type 2/3 and intend it to mean February 3rd. There's no way for Excel to know for sure, so it has to interpret it one way or another. -Jeff[Microsoft]


Why have you removed the Status bar display when clicking on a second spreadsheet?

I used to highlight several numbers, obtain a Sum, as displayed in the Status bar from spreadsheet one, and type that into spreadsheet 2. Unfortunately in 2016 and onward, it seems like the Status bar clears once I click to another Excel document.

How do we get that back?

EDIT: This helped me transfer data from one spreadsheet (raw data) to another dashboard very quickly. Now I need to add physical sum() formula's in spreadsheet 1 before I can start entering the data into spreadsheet 2 so that I have something to reference off of.


Are you in Windows? Open your first file. Then open a separate Excel process with Start > Run > excel /x ...and then open the second file. That will let you see the status bar of the other file as you switch focus. -Dave [Microsoft]


Does Pineapple belong on pizza?


We polled the room: 12 say "yes", 6 say "no".

One person says "Try it with cinnamon as well" but we think he's a bit odd...


Hey guys, I LOVE Excel and have been using it since '97! If you were to look back to Excel '97, what's your biggest "I can't believe this feature didn't exist back then" in comparison to today's version?


'95 for me! I'd have to go with PivotTable relationships with the Data Model. It essentially replaces what I used to spend hours a week on in Access or SQL Server. Smitty [MSFT]


PLEASE can you stop numbers auto formatting to dates? 1/63 is not a date! It's a string! If I wanted a date, I'd have formatted the cell as a date! It's infuriating!


There are two ways to do this, either start the text with ' or format the cell to text format before you enter the text

Olaf (Microsoft)


Can you please create a keyboard shortcut for fill down as in one that does the same thing as double clicking the bottom right corner of a selected cell?


Isn't this what Ctrl-D (fill down) does? - Alex [MSFT]


Any chance the Mac version will be updated to support the CONCAT function? (Right now only CONCATENATE is supported)


We're hard at work bridging new features into the Mac, so CONCAT should appear soon in Office 365 subscription versions for Mac. I don't have an exact timeline though. Smitty [MSFT]


Is there a way to put highlights on a pivot table row which will stay with the data when you sort or filter?


Have you tried Conditional Formatting. Smitty [MSFT]


At my last job, in a financial institution, we handled a lot of CSVs with stock data and people always open them in Excel. In the normal cell format, CUSIPs lose leading 0's and shorten to something like 2+9092 or whatever (the plus sign is the issue). It only works when you copy and paste into a cell formatted as text.

What's your guy's solution to that?


Excel may be one of the most powerful applications ever created, and while I understand why the Windows and Mac versions had different feature parity in the beginning, why is the PC version so much more powerful today? Do you have any plans to make the PC and Mac versions closer in capability on your roadmap?


Take a look at UserVoice for Mac. We're doing lots of work in the Mac space to build parity. Smitty [MSFT]


Is there meaning to life?


=6*9 - Alex [MSFT]


How often do you guys call something excellent?


Everything is either "excellent!" or "bogus!" -Jeff[Microsoft]


Buncha nerds!

Anyways, why do you think most software suites are shifting to subscription style services instead of the traditional pay for product once type? Is it primarily to combat software piracy? To get more money? Or ease of access to updates and other useful features?



As technology evolves, it's much easier to provide ongoing value to people by giving them the ability to have software that's constantly being updated. I look at it as being able to build cool new stuff and deliver it when it's done vs. having to sit on it until a fixed release point. Smitty [MSFT]


Any chance you will bring back the option for the old menus ?


There is a good reason (or a dozen) why the old menus had to go away. Check out this video from the design team when you get a chance, it tells the story behind the switch: - Alex [MSFT]


Can we get a feature to allow worksheet tabs to stack at the bottom in multiple rows rather than having to scroll endlessly for bigger files with a lot of worksheet tabs?


I don't think it's on the roadmap, but you can add it as a suggestion on UserVoice. Smitty [MSFT]


Why after copying and pasting a cell, the cell remains highlighted with the green dashed box? Drives my OCD bonkers.

(office 365)


Excel keeps it up for repeated pastes. Try using [Esc] after paste. That's what I do when that green box annoys me :-) - Alex [MSFT]


1) have you considered having a count unique / list unique formula? 2) Are you considering implementing GPU computing? 3) I think there is a bug when you call '=00'. has this been fixed?


Regarding GPU computing: That's an idea that comes up occasionally, but it doesn't mesh well with Excel calculation. As far as I understand, GPUs are very good at single instruction, multiple data computing. It's rare that Excel has to perform the same instructions on multiple inputs, or perhaps more accurately, it's rare that we're able to determine that we need to perform the same instructions on multiple inputs. Excel formulas are very freeform, so it would take some analysis to determine that we could do this, and that analysis could very easily cost more time than we would save. -Jeff[Microsoft]


How old is the oldest line of code that still exists in the project?


We have quite a few that are as old as Excel. - Alex [MSFT]


How does the rand() function go about generating a random number?


I want to say like this: But in reality as of Excel 2007 it implements Mersenne Twister: - Alex [MSFT]


Do you excel at your job?


Of course, it's a job requrement. :) Smitty [MSFT]


Why is new line inside a cell set to alt enter instead of shift enter like every other program in existence?


Hard to tell after so many years, but my hunch is because they messed up when copying Excel ;-) - Alex [MSFT]




If you're on Windows, go to File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options. Then go to the "AutoFormat as you type" tab, and uncheck the top box. On Mac, it's Excel menu > Preferences > AutoCorrect. -Dave [Microsoft]


When you are entering data in rows you can type, tab, type tab, type, tab, and then enter will take you to the next row in the first column. So basically A1, tab, A2, tab, A3, tab, ENTER will take you to B1.

What if you're entering data in columns? A1, enter, B1, enter, C1, enter....What key will take you to A2 easily? I know CTRL ^ but is there a single hotkey? Can we get one? I enter more in columns than rows. Thanks!


Try selecting the range, say A1:C3, first. Inside selection [Tab] and [Enter] will wrap around to the next row and column respectively. This works for multi-range selection as well. - Alex [MSFT]


Conditional format pop up box can't be resized. I've seen many comments on this before, is this something you can look into? It's a very clunky interface when you have heaps of conditions.

Also, conditional formatting duplicating with copy/paste or ctrl+d, even when formatting has been locked/protected. This can create thousands of conditions over time, making the sheet lag something shocking.

Edit: repost because auto moderator deleted for leaving out a question mark...


You can make a suggestion for that at Excel UserVoice. Smitty [MSFT]




Actually, PivotTables are super easy to use once you play with them a bit. :) Check our new PivotTable tutorial from the File > New menu. We've also got a Create a PivotTable to analyze worksheet data topic, and some PivotTable videos.

Smitty [MSFT]




Take a look at the Excel Training Center. We've done a lot of work on creating new videos and tips.

Smitty [MSFT]


Will the =IFS function ever come to the desktop version of Excel?


It's planned to be in the next perpetual release (2109). Smitty [MSFT]


Could you make it possible to handle Ips? If you have an IP with 4x3 digits and say treat this as text - Excel removes all the dots as if it was a long number.


This suggestion is tracked on User Voice site here: IP Address as a datatype. - Alex [MSFT]


Favorite hotkeys?



Carlos [Microsoft]


How much of Charles Simonyi is still in the current code base of Excel? We have heard so much about his "hungarian notation" and such. Are there traces of his ideas still lurking in modern Excel code?


Well, we certainly still use Hungarian notation. Other than that, I haven't noticed his alias in the code at all. -Jeff[Microsoft]




I believe we did, in Excel 2013. Give it a try :-) - Alex [MSFT]


Why does share this workbook fail horribly when you get more than 3 users in a workbook at a time, even though the feature says this is how it exactly should work?


Please, give a try to our new co-authoring model: - Alex [MSFT]


I'm late, but why I'm not allowed to copy entire column A:A to B2? 99.9999 % of the time it's just the last few empty rows that would not fit to the target. You could just warn us "Copied cells do not fit to the target area. Copy anyway? Some cells will be discarded". Now I have to manually select from first to last row, which is tedious.


Try this: Ctrl-Space (select column), Ctrl-Shift-Up (drop empty cells from the bottom of the selection), now copy and paste as you wish. - Alex [MSFT]


First of all, how dare you?


It was an accident! - Alex [MSFT]


How do I do vlookups?


Here's a start: VLOOKUP Smitty [MSFT]




Other than Excel itself? The people here are hands down the best. Smitty [MSFT]


Is it true that Excel has its custom C compiler?


Not anymore ;-) We used to have our own C preprocessor. - Alex [MSFT]


Would you guys rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck?

Edit: Yes Reddit, give me your downvotes, I feeeeeed on them


Hmm, torn between 100 duck sized horses in a 10x10 grid formation and 1 (XL) Duck. -Eric [Microsoft]


What's the future of MS Excel? In terms of features, functionalities or a software as a whole. Are there any chances that spreadsheet program might entirely be replaced with some new program?


There are a lot of cool new things comming for all platforms. This recording is a great session What is new in Excel


Hi Guys! Thanks for doing this AMA. My question is are there any features that you wish Excel had but it doesn’t yet or aren’t possible to include?


Yes, we love all the features users as us on UserVoice. Good news is that we are working very hard to include them.


Best tips and tricks for a daily user in the accounting field?



Wow, where to start? Keyboard shortcuts without a doubt. Then PivotTables, and the Data Model. You might also want to look at MrExcel's Power Tips and Tricks. He does a lot of work with accountants and finance pros. Smitty [MSFT]


Can you please implement a way to disable the F1 key? Accidentally hitting it while trying to press F2 is a real drag on efficiency.


You can add a request on UserVoice, but a tube of Superglue is a lot cheaper. Smitty [MSFT]


One of my biggest struggles is two part. The lack of continuity in the default settings for all office products between Office for Windows and Office for Mac (this includes excel) and also the lack of feature parity between Excel for the two platforms. I work on a large team where we pass excel docs around regularly and we often have to remind Mac owners to only work in a Windows VM. Complex formulas from Windows Excel can be ruined when opened in Mac Excel. This is just one example.

QUESTION: Are there plans to address the continued lack of feature parity between Windows and Mac?


Yes, we're doing a lot of work on Mac parity. Check out Excel UserVoice for Mac to see what we've got in the works. Smitty [MSFT]


So I’m a wee bit better than completely mediocre at getting custom with Excel.

What would you recommend for a v1.0 gannt chart built from the ground up? Learn gannt charts ins, outs and pitfalls and then build one from the ground up, or do you know of a good comprehensive resource for someone about to go down the rabbit hole, such as myself?

Thanks for the AMA!


When I need help with some advanced chart, I head to Jon Peltier's blog. He seems to have a few pages on Gantt charts as well, for example, and - Alex [MSFT]


What the heck is scroll lock for?


It lets arrow keys scroll the view without changing selection. Pretty sure it comes from the time when the spreadsheets were small and computer mice - exotic :-) - Alex [MSFT]


This is going to sound really strange, but I use Excel to make pixel art. Is there any chance a hot key could be implemented to allow for color fills? I've searched and searched and can't find anything that will work.


This sounds like fun :-) Try this: set aside a few cells for palette and create equal number of VBA macros to copy content of each of these cells into the currently selected cell. Then assign shortcut keys to each of these macros in Alt-F8 menu. Now you can use different shortcut for different colors, and change palette colors as needed. - Alex [MSFT]


Hello! I have a job that requires some knowledge in Excel, but my current level is lower than what they would like. So many different tutorials online, I do not know which one to choose to start learning excel!

Please give me an example you guys approve of?


We've got lots of stuff here: Excel Training Center, and we also like LinkedIn Learning. Smitty [MSFT]


Why, why, why can't I view two spreadsheets in the same book side by side?


Try creating a new window (View / Window / New Window). - Alex [MSFT]


What are your future plans for VBA?

Will Microsoft Office support interaction with other languages like Python?

EDIT: Realised my second question was asked already.


Hello Excel people!

Is there any chance you could make scrolling non-integral (i.e. so that the scrolling doesn't snap to borders of cells) as an option?

This could be very helpful in situations when users put a lot of text in cells and turn on text wrapping, and I see a lot of those. This causes situations where only three or four rows are visible on single screen, which is fine, but scrolling is extremely jumpy and distracting.

Other than that I love and respect all of the effort you did over the years.


It is something more users have asked about and posted on [UserVoice}(, we are looking into it.


Is there a way to add data to a pivot table and have it show up in your original data source? Basically doing the reverse of a pivot table?


Not sure whether this is exactly what you are looking for, but Pivot Tables have writeback capabilities if your data source is Analysis Services: - Alex [MSFT]


Can you please put a stop to these random office employees making macros/excel docs with visual basic code in it and not telling any of us IT folk about it? Would really stop a lot of headaches. Thanks!


Don't know if this will work for you: You could require your employees to use the .xlsx file format, which forbids VB code.


Is there someone on your team who is pretty much 100% proficient in excel or like a guru, or does each team member have a speciality?


Generally we all have our specialties, but there are also some super guru's walking around here.

Olaf (Microsoft)


Is ChgRect still a hopeless mess? To this day it still makes periodic appearances in my nightmares.


Well, it's been moved into shared code, made a member function on the CELLTABLE, and renamed to HrChgRect. But yes, it is still a hopeless mess.


Why did you gimp excel for Mac OS?


We're doing lots of work on bringing parity to Mac. Take a look at UserVoice to see what we're currently working on.

Smitty [MSFT]


Are there any easter eggs hidden in excel that you guys snuck in? Are you allowed to put in easter eggs? Or is the practice discouraged?

Thanks guys!


We wish, they where a blast.

Olaf (Microsoft)


Why is it not possible to zoom in Excel?


There is a zoom slider in the bottom right corner of Excel window, and View / Zoom in Ribbon. Are you referring to a different kind of zoom? - Alex [MSFT]


Why is there still no IN function?


You can always suggest it on Excel UserVoice. The team actively monitors that, and acts on the most popular. Smitty [MSFT]


Why am I limited to a million ('ish) rows?


If you use Get & Transform you can pull in as many rows of data as your device can handle.

Olaf (Microsoft)


Why is it that when I want to duplicate/mirror information in a cell using =(the sheet/cell) it doesn't transfer the comment? Is this even possible using another method? Im assuming I must misunderstand the true us of the = function.


Copy > Paste will bring a comment with it. Smitty [MSFT]


How do I create for loops within excel?


A few possibilities come to mind: iterative calculations, VBA or XLM language on a macro sheet. - Alex [MSFT]


By your estimates what percentage of users use excel with scroll lock on?


Only the ones who don't realize they've done it. Smitty [MSFT]


How react to Excel related puns? Do you cringe or think they are Excelent?


We embrace them: - Alex [MSFT]


Who's using the apple laptop? Is that allowed at Microsoft?


Yes, it's allowed. You can choose to have a MacBook as your work laptop.


How are you guys positioning around the proliferation of no/low code data analytic software (e.g. Paxata, Alteryx)? Any plans to integrate AI capabilities?


Great questions. We're really excited about the future of intelligence and Excel and you can check out some of the ways we're incorporating more "smarts" in the video of our Ignite session on What's New in Excel.

As for no/low code data analytic software, there's a ton of great new ideas being explored. We like the two you cite because they're both Microsoft partners, and we think they're doing great stuff.

In general, we're always looking for ways to bring analysis to a larger group of users, so I think there are a lot of cool ways you'll see us continue to innovate in this space. - Charlie [Microsoft]


Hi Excel Team! Thank you so much for doing this AMA.

I'm wondering where you see excel fitting into the Data and BI space for both the short and long terms. Is there a plan to complement the current offerings with a richer set of capabilities for Big Data? And do you see excel continuing to expand further from its roots as the average business user starts to leverage AI, Machine Learning, etc.?

Last, a quick thank you to the Excel team members now and of the past! Excel VBA was my first exposure to the world of programming and it turned out to be a door into a new life.


Thanks for joining! Excel will continue to be a valuable data analysis tool in both spaces. I don't think any of us can predict exactly how far it can grow as new technologies are leveraged though. It is pretty amazing to think about.

VBA Rocks! Smitty [MSFT]


Are there any plans for expanding on the examples and more tutorial like aspects of the "M" documentation?

I mean I know it's MSDN, but it's still pretty darned technical with just a few examples.

it would be neat with something in between "what buttons do I press" feeling of the office support site and "I am a programmer" feeling of MSDN.


You might want to search for some of the Power BI tutorials - the Query Editor window there has the same functionality. You can start with some of the Guided Learning videos (made by a well-spoken Englishman) here


Do you use Excel itself as part of your development process?


Yes, at every stage, actually. - Alex [MSFT]


Rows or Columns?


I'll have to go with columns, since you cannot spell XL without them :-) - Alex [MSFT]


Hi guys, thanks for doing this!

I've always wondered: why oh why isn't there a keyboard shortcut to take you to the name box? I know I can write a macro and bind it to a keystroke, but it seems like something really obvious to me, and it's been missing forever.

While I'm at it, getting dynamic data (named ranges, formulas, etc) into headers and footers without VBA would make my reporting infinitely easier. I realize it's probably low on the priority list because actual programming is more interesting than printing. But is there anyone working on that side of things?


I use Alt+I+N+D+N to open the Name Manager to a new name. Or Ctrl+F3 > N.

For the printing part, you can always suggest it on

Smitty [MSFT]


Who's the goofy guy in the back?


That, I believe, is Reddit's mascot. - Alex [MSFT]


Are there any plans to scale the computing power to be able to handle big data analytics? (to a similar scale of databases and competitor products like Alteryx)


Yes! We already have capabilities in this area - take a look at what you can do through Power Query / 'Get and Transform Data' and Power Pivot. Excel and Power BI are certainly planning more investment for analytics so stay tuned...


Feature request more than a question:

Several times, organisations that I've worked with have had the need to produce quick, intelligent information gathering excersizes. Excel online is great for this, and has a built-in survey took which can be used to ask basic questions, distribute, and automatically format them into a table.

This tool could be improved tenfold with the addition of 'logic'. What I mean is something similar to SurveyMonkey, where certain questions are asked only if criteria are met. ie.

v.basic example: Do you run Mac or Windows? Mac [] Windows[]

if(Mac); {What Operating system do you run? Sierra [] Snow Leopard [] El Capatin []

or if(Windows); What OS do you run? Vista [] Win7 [] Win 10 []


I've requested this feature through all the relevent channels and there seems to be quite a few people interested in this functionality within places I've worked (especially with O365 uptake) and people online.


Is one of those channels our Excel UserVoice page? We use this tool to help us prioritize user feedback in our backlog/roadmap. Please make sure this is reflected there! Also, have you played around with the new Microsoft Forms You might also consider adding this feedback on the Forms UserVoice page.

Carlos [Microsoft]


Any plans for integrating cortana with excel?


There is a great prototype from a partner, I would also recommend posting this to Excel Feedback


Why do you think that users are wrong when they tell excel they a very long number in plain text, and that what they really want is that number automatically converted into scientific notation?

-a guy who occasionally has to enter barcode numbers into a spreadsheet, and uses OpenOffice because it believes me when I say I want plain text


Before entering your barcodes, select the area you intend to enter them, right click, Format Cells => Text. Then, everything you enter will be text and not parsed as a number.


Why does excel have an "average" function but not a "mean" function? This has always driven me crazy.


the mean or average is the sum of a collection of numbers divided by the number of numbers in the collection


Why can't Excel keep my conditional formatting straight? It always messes up and when I go back it's a jumbled disaster. Sometimes it'll even mess up the conditional statement (ie instead of "=B1="Yes"" it'll throw a huge number like "=B120573="Yes""). Whyyyyyyyy


I suspect this has something to do with the distinction between absolute and relative references. Try writing $B$1 to anchor your reference in the formula above. - Alex [MSFT]


Is it possible to make INDIRECT() a non-volatile function?


That is actually something that has been talked about as a possibility a lot lately. It's a distinct possibility, but there are not yet definite plans. -Jeff[Microsoft]


As a consumer why should I pay for Office 365 to access a cloud based spreadsheet when there are plenty of free services such as Google Sheets which are available on multiple platforms?


Just to clarify, Office 365 gives you access to install the full client Office applications across your devices – Windows, Mac, Android, etc., this is in addition to Office Online.

Excel Online is also available for free. See Free Office Online Apps

In addition, for personal usage, I find the 1 TB of OneDrive storage, plus 60 Skype to mobile phone minutes that come with O365, quite useful. I have family that lives abroad, so that comes in handy.

Carlos [Microsoft]


How in tarnation can I apply the same pattern of formulas to each row or culumn?


Could you elaborate? Filling right, filling down, or ctrl-entering might be the answer, but I would need to understand more details of what you're trying to do. -Jeff[Microsoft]


Has anybody ever created a pivot table correctly on the first try?


Of course. ;) Smitty [MSFT]




Awww, come on. Excel's awesome! Smitty [MSFT]

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