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20 Excel Tricks That Can Make Anyone An Excel Expert

20 Excel Tricks That Can Make Anyone An Excel Expert

After Microsoft developed Excel to the 2010 version, it offered more surprises than ever. In order to deal with tons of big data, you can’t ignore the important role Excel plays in daily work. However, both for beginners and advanced users, there are still many useful tips and tricks that are inevitably overlooked. Here are 20 useful Excel spreadsheet secrets you may not know. Please note that all these functions are based on Microsoft Excel 2010.

1. One Click to Select All

You might know how to select all by using the Ctrl + A shortcut, but few know that with only one click of the corner button, as shown in the screenshot below, all data will be selected in seconds.

One Click to Select All

    2. Open Excel Files in Bulk

    Rather than open files one by one when you have multiple files you need to handle, there is a handy way to open them all with one click. Select the files you would like to open then press the Enter key on the keyboard, all files will open simultaneously.

    Open Excel Files in Bulk

      3. Shift Between Different Excel Files

      When you have different spreadsheets open, it’s really annoying shifting between different files because sometimes working on the wrong sheet can ruin the whole project. Using Ctrl + Tab you can shift between different files freely. This function is also applicable to other files like different Windows tabs in Firefox when opened using Windows 7.

      Shift Different Excel Files

        4. Create a New Shortcut Menu

        Generally there are three shortcuts in the top menu, which are Save, Undo Typing and Repeat Typing. However, if you want to use more shortcuts, like Copy and Cut, you can set them up as follows:

        File->Options->Quick Access Toolbar, add Cut and Copy from the left column to the right, save it. You will see two more shortcuts added in the top menu.

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        Create New Shortcut Menu

          5. Add a Diagonal Line to a Cell

          When creating a classmate address list, for example, you may need a diagonal link in the first cell to separate different attributes of rows and columns. How to make it? Everyone knows that Home->Font-> Borders can change different borders for a cell, and even add different colors. However, if you click More Borders, you will get more surprises, like a diagonal line. Click it and save—you can now make it immediately.

          Add Diagonal Line for a Cell

            6. Add More Than One New Row or Column

            You may know the way to add one new row or column, but it really wastes a lot of time if you need to insert more than one of these by repeating this action X number of times. The best way is to drag and select X rows or columns (X is two or more) if you want to add X rows or columns above or left. Right click the highlighted rows or columns and choose Insert from the drop down menu. New rows will be inserted above the row or to the left of the column you first selected.

            Add More Than One New Row/Column

              7. Speedily Move and Copy Data in Cells

              If you want to move one column of data in a spreadsheet, the fast way is to choose it and move the pointer to the border, after it turns to a crossed arrow icon, drag to move the column freely. What if you want to copy the data? You can press the Ctrl button before you drag to move; the new column will copy all the selected data.

              Speedy Move and Copy Data in Cells

                8. Speedily Delete Blank Cells

                Some default data will be blank, for various reasons. If you need to delete these to maintain accuracy, especially when calculating the average value, the speedy way is to filter out all blank cells and delete them with one click. Choose the column you want to filter, go to Data->Filter, after the downward button shows, undo Select All and then pick up the last option, Blanks. All blank cells will show immediately. Go back to Home and click Delete directly, all of them will be removed.

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                Speedy Delete Blank Cells

                  9. Vague Search with Wild Card

                  You may know how to activate the speedy search by using the shortcut Ctrl + F, but there are two main wild cards—Question Mark and Asterisk—used in Excel spreadsheets to activate a vague search. This is used when you are not sure about the target result. Question Mark stands for one character and Asterisk represents one or more characters. What if you need to search Question Mark and Asterisk as a target result? Don’t forget add a Wave Line in front.

                  Vague Search with Wild-card

                    10. Generate a Unique Value in a Column

                    You are aware of the key function of Filter, but few people use the Advanced Filter, which will be repeatedly applied when you need to filter a unique value from data in a column. Click to choose the column and go to Data->Advanced. A pop-up window will show up. As the screenshot shows, click Copy to another location, which should be in accord with the second red rectangular area. Then specify the target location by typing the value or clicking the area-choosing button. In this example, the unique age can be generated from Column C and show in Column E. Don’t forget to choose Unique records only, then click OK. The unique value showing in column E can be the contrast of the original data in C, that’s the reason why it is recommended to copy to another location.

                    Generate Unique Value in Column

                      11. Input Restriction with Data Validation Function

                      In order to retain the validity of data, sometimes you need to restrict the input value and offer some tips for further steps. For example, age in this sheet should be whole numbers and all people participating in this survey should be between 18 and 60 years old. To ensure that data outside of this age range isn’t entered, go to Data->Data Validation->Setting, input the conditions and shift to Input Message to give prompts like, “Please input your age with whole number, which should range from 18 to 60.” Users will get this prompt when hanging the pointer in this area and get a warning message if the inputted information is unqualified.

                      Input Restriction with Data Validation Function

                        12. Fast Navigation with Ctrl + Arrow Button

                        When you click Ctrl + any arrow button on the keyboard, you can jump to the edge of the sheet in different directions. If you want to jump to the bottom line of the data, just try to click Ctrl + downward button.

                        Fast Navigation with Ctrl + Arrow Button

                          13. Transpose Data from a Row to a Column

                          You would use this feature if you want to transpose data to get a better display; however, retyping all data would be the last thing you would need to do if you know how to use the Transpose function in Paste. Here’s how: copy the area you want to transpose, move the pointer to another blank location. Go to Home->Paste->Transpose, please note that this function won’t activate until you copy the data first.

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                          Transpose Data from Row to Column

                            14. Hide Data Thoroughly

                            Almost all users know how to hide data by right clicking to select the Hide function, but this can be easily noticed if there is only a little bit of data. The best and easiest way to hide data thoroughly is to use the Format Cells function. Choose the area and go to Home->Font->Open Format Cells->Number Tab->Custom->Type ;;; -> Click OK, then all the values in the area will be invisible, and can only be found in the preview area next to the Function button.

                            Hide Data Thoroughly

                              15. Compose Text with &

                              Complicated formulation is unnecessary, as long as you know how to use &. You can compose any text freely with this symbol. Below I have four columns with different texts, but what if I want to compose them to one value in one cell? First, locate the cell that is to show the composed result, use the formulation with & as shown in the screenshot below. Click Enter: all texts in A2, B2, C2 and D2 will be composed together to become LizaUSA25@ in F2.

                              Compose Text with &

                                16. Transforming the Case of Text

                                With all the tricks shared here, I’ve tried my best to avoid complicated formulation. But there are still some simple and easy to use formulations to show you, like UPPER, LOWER and PROPER, which can transform texts for different purposes. UPPER will capitalize all characters, LOWER can change text to all lower case and PROPER will only capitalize the first character of a word.

                                Text Transform

                                  17. Input Values Starting with 0

                                  When an input value starts with zero, Excel will delete the zero by default. Rather than reset the Format Cells, this problem can be easily solved by adding a single quote mark ahead of the first zero, as shown.

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                                  Input Value Starts with 0

                                    18. Speed up Inputting Complicated Terms with AutoCorrect

                                    If you need to repeat the same value and it is complicated to input, the best way is to use the AutoCorrect function, which will replace your text with the correct text. Take my name, Liza Brown, for example, which can be replaced by LZ. Therefore, every time I input LZ, it can autocorrect to Liza Brown. Go to File->Options->Proofing->AutoCorrect Options and input Replace text with correct text in the red rectangular area, as below.

                                    Speed up Inputting Complicate Terms with AutoCorrect

                                      19. One Click to Get More Status

                                      Most users know how to check the data status in the bottom of an Excel sheet, like Average and Sum Value. However, do you know you can move the pointer to the bottom tab and right click to get more status, as shown below?

                                      One Click to Get More Status

                                        20. Rename a Sheet Using Double Click

                                        There are multiple ways to rename sheets, and most users will right click to choose Rename, which actually wastes a lot of time. The best way is to just click twice, then you can rename it directly.

                                        Rename Sheet by Double Click

                                          Want to level up your excel skills further? Don’t miss this article:

                                          Excellent Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

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                                          Last Updated on November 3, 2020

                                          20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

                                          20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

                                          Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

                                          There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

                                          This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

                                          What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

                                          Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

                                          • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
                                          • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
                                          • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

                                          1. Todoist

                                            Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

                                            Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

                                            If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

                                            Download: Todoist

                                            2. 1Password

                                              You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

                                              1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

                                              You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

                                              Download: 1Password

                                              3. Bear

                                                Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

                                                It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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                                                Download: Bear

                                                4. Hazel

                                                  Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

                                                  For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

                                                  Download: noodlesoft

                                                  5. Alfred

                                                    Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

                                                    For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

                                                    It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

                                                    Download: Alfred

                                                    6. TextExpander

                                                      TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                                                      For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                                                      An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                                                      Download: TextExpander

                                                      7. Backblaze

                                                        If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                                                        Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                                                        Download: Backblaze

                                                        8. Keyboard Maestro

                                                          Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                                                          Download: Keyboard Maestro

                                                          9. Snagit

                                                            There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                                                            Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                                                            10. Bartender

                                                              Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                                                              If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                                                              Download: Bartender

                                                              11. Otter

                                                              Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                                                              Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                                                              Download: Otter

                                                              12. Flux

                                                                Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                                                                Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                                                                Download: Flux

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                                                                13. PDFpen

                                                                If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                                                                PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                                                                Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                                                                14. OmniFocus

                                                                  OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                                                                  It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                                                                  A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                                                                  Download: OmniFocus

                                                                  15. Franz

                                                                    It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                                                                    Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                                                                    Download: Franz

                                                                    16. MindNode

                                                                      If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                                                      The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                                                      Download: MindNode

                                                                      17. Focus

                                                                        The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                                                        This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                                                        Download: Focus

                                                                        18. CleanMyMac

                                                                          Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                                                          Download: CleanMyMac

                                                                          19. Grammarly

                                                                            A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                                                            This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                                                            A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                                                            Download: Grammarly

                                                                            Focus To Do

                                                                              Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                                                              There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                                                              Download: Focus To Do

                                                                              The Bottom Line

                                                                              These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                                                              Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                                                              More to Boost Productivity

                                                                              Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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