Excel: Edit your Excel Workbooks on the Web

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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 Excel Web App.

If you don't have one, go out and sign up for a free OneDrive account

In Excel 2013, the Save As dialog offers your OneDrive as a place to save.

In 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 OneDrive folders will appear on the right side. Choose a folder and click the Save As icon on the right side of the screen.

  1. Save to your OneDrive 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 OneDrive.

    On any computer, sign in to Office.com and choose OneDrive from the More dropdown. Navigate to the proper folder and find the workbook that you saved from Excel.

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

    The results are shown in the figure here. 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.

    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!

  2. A workbook rendered in a browser.

    It gets even better. At the top of the screen, choose Edit in Browser.

    A ribbon appears above the worksheet with File, Home, Insert, Data, Review, and View.

    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.

  3. 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.

    You cannot enter a new array formula, but the browser will calculate array formulas that were entered previously. 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 OneDrive version from your Recent Files list. It all works amazingly well.