Setting Excel Preferences in Office 2011 for Mac - dummies

Setting Excel Preferences in Office 2011 for Mac

By Geetesh Bajaj, James Gordon

Although it’s true that you can gain a better knowledge of any application if you visit its preferences and try to figure them out, it’s almost essential for Excel for Mac 2011. Choose Excel→Preferences from the menu bar to display the Preferences dialog. When you have an inkling or thought about a setting you want to change, just type into the Search field.


Here are some selected settings:

  • General:

    • Sheets in New Workbook: The spinner sets the number of blank worksheets a new workbook will have by default.

    • Standard Font: Choose a default font. Unless you have a compelling reason to change this, leave this as “body font,” which is roughly the same as the default font.

    • Preferred File Location: Set the default location for Excel files.

    • Show This Number of Recent Documents: Set the number of recently used workbooks shown in Excel’s File menu by typing in a figure here. Recently used items in the File menu don’t disappear after a month. This list is based on the quantity you set.

  • View:

    • Comments: Adjust how comments are displayed.

    • Show Formulas: Display formulas instead of calculation values.

    • Show Zero Values: Displays a 0 instead of an empty cell when selected.

    • Show Sheet Tabs: Deselect to hide all the sheet tabs with the horizontal scroll bar. Selecting redisplays the scroll bar.

  • Edit:

    • Automatically convert date systems: When selected, Excel automatically corrects for differences between the 1900 (Windows) and 1904 date systems (Mac) during copy and paste. The destination workbook’s format is adopted.

  • AutoCorrect: You can have Excel fix your common typing blunders automatically.

  • Calculation: When not set to Automatically, working with large spreadsheets with lots of complicated formulas can be faster and easier.

If you turn off Excel’s automatic calculation capability, you need to turn it back on again, or Excel’s formulas won’t calculate. This is especially important if you turn off automatic calculation using a macro. Be certain your code turns the Automatically option back on under all circumstances.