There is hardly any debate to the fact that Excel is an extremely powerful tool. It can do complex formulas and calculations at mind-numbing speed. All this being said, however, in all the years I have worked in IT, I have observed that most people use it for a basic set of functions. I believe that Microsoft recognized this as well. They made it very easy for us to get answers to our common questions. The problem is, they put this tool in an uncommonly used place. Today, I would like to introduce you to Excel’s “Status Bar” and to show you how it can make your life a little easier.
What is a status bar you ask? Well, it is way down at the bottom of the screen. You know, the place that no one hardly ever looks. In the picture below, you can see Excel’s main window with the status bar highlighted.
Several things happen in the status bar that often go unnoticed. For instance, when you hit the “Caps Lock” key on your keyboard, an indicator shows up in the status bar. It is also home to some pretty helpful tools that can help you get quick answers from your spreadsheet.
Let’s begin by selecting a column of numbers like the ones pictured below. One of the most common tasks in a spreadsheet is to sum up a column of numbers. Notice that Excel makes this very easy. Below, you will see what the status bar shows when you have a column of numbers highlighted. By default, Excel shows you the average, sum, and count of the selected numbers.
If you right-click the status bar, you will get a context menu which will allow you to customize which fields you need displayed. In the picture below, you can see the different options that you have. Notice the red circled area. Here, you can add other popular functions to the status bar.
Let’s add minimum and maximum to the status bar and see what we get. If you highlight your data as pictured below, you now will notice that the status bar gives some additional information. Highlighted below, you can see the “Min” and “Max” functions. Sometimes it is nice just to be able to glean out what the smallest and largest numbers in a spreadsheet are. The status bar makes this very simple to find.
I hope this tutorial helps to simplify some of the common tasks you perform in Excel. Of course, if you enjoy typing “=Sum(H1:K8)” every time you want to get a Sum in a column, then this tip probably isn’t for you. ;)
Let me know what you think about this tip. I love questions and comments.