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Excel Edit your Excel Workbooks on the Web

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Edit your Excel Workbooks on the Web

Problem: I am visiting my aunt today. I got a call from work and I have to change the assumptions in one of my Excel workbooks. My aunt doesn’t have Excel.

Strategy: You can edit your Excel workbooks using the new Excel Web App.

If you don’t have one, go out and sign up for a free Windows Live account at Home.Live.Com.

After you are signed in to Windows Live, open the More drop-down in the top navigation and choose SkyDrive. Go through the setup process to sign up for the free SkyDrive service. This gives you a 25GB storage in the cloud.

From Excel 2010, choose File, Save & Send, Save to Web. On the right side of the Backstage view, you will have to enter your Windows Live user ID and password.

After you’ve signed in to Windows Live, your SkyDrive folders will appear on the right side. Choose a folder and click the Save As icon on the right side of the screen.


Figure 157 Save to your SkyDrive account.

On the face of it, this is a great way to make files accessible so that you can work on them from home or on your next business trip. Instead of carrying flash drives back and forth, you can simply keep a copy of the file on the SkyDrive.

On any computer, sign in to Windows Live and choose SkyDrive from the More drop-down. Navigate to the proper folder and find the workbook that you saved from Excel.


Figure 158 View the workbook from any browser.

You will see choices such as Download, but for now choose View.

The results are shown in the figure below. This is a browser! Those are slicers across the top and left side. That is a pivot table and a chart. At the bottom left of the screen, you will see that there are two worksheet tabs that you can access.


Figure 159 A workbook rendered in a browser.

You are still in View Only mode, but you can do a few amazing things in View Only mode. Try selecting new items from the slicers. In a few seconds, the pivot table and pivot chart update!

It gets even better.

At the top of the screen, choose Edit in Browser.

A ribbon appears above the worksheet with a File menu, Home tab, and Insert tab.

In edit mode, I typed new labels in J2:J5, some numbers in K2:K4, and a PMT formula in K5. I then formatted cell K5 using formatting commands on the Home tab.


Figure 160 Do simple edits in the browser.

All the while, this feels remarkably like Excel. I tried entering the formula using the mouse and tried entering the formula using the arrow keys to point to the other cells.

Some limitations apply as to what you can do in the browser, but there are an amazing number of things that you can do in the browser. A new version of the Excel Web App is released every four months, so the limitations are getting fewer.

For example, the browser does not support pictures or shapes. You cannot enter a new array formula, but the browser will calculate array formulas that were entered previously. You cannot create a new pivot table, but you can interact with slicers for an existing pivot table. You cannot run macros or have links to external workbooks.

You can adjust row height and column widths. If you have data that is larger than will fit in a cell, you can merge cells so that the entire value will appear.

This is a fairly miraculous browser experience.

If you make changes in the browser, they are automatically saved. When you get back to work, you can open the SkyDrive version from your Recent Files list. It all works amazingly well.

You can choose Open in Excel. The workbook will download from the SkyDrive and open in whichever version of Excel or Excel Starter that you have installed on that machine.

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