Discover the Power of Excel’s Hidden Watch Window

By Marie McCooey

Do you find yourself endlessly scrolling through gigantic worksheets to check formula results?

Would you find it helpful if you could view the impact your changes have on the formula cells without the constant scrolling?

Excel’s little known tool, the Watch Window, allows you to monitor formulas or important cells in a separate window without continuously scrolling through enormous worksheets.

Displaying Excel’s Watch Window

In the worksheet below, you’d like to view the impact of the newly added sales transactions on the Totals row located at the end of the very large worksheet.

Cells to watch selected

  1. Select the cell or cells you’d like to watch.
  2. Click the Watch Window button in the Formula Auditing group on the Formulas tab.
    Excel Watch Window buttonThe Watch window displays.
    Add Watch button
  3. Click the Add Watch button.
    The Add Watch window displays the selected cell(s).
    Cells to watch
  4. Click Add.
    The selected cells display in the Add Watch window with the following information:

    • Workbook name
    • Worksheet name
    • Cell name (if the cell has been named)
    • Add link to range names blog
    • Cell address
    • Value and formula (if the cell contains a formula)
      Excel watch window with properties of cells to watch
    1. Repeat these steps for all the cells that you want to keep an eye on.

Notes:

  • You can only have one watch per cell.
  • Each workbook has its own separate Watch Window.
    You can add cells from other worksheets within the same Excel workbook, but you cannot add cells from another workbook.

Resizing the Watch Window

  1. Hover over any Watch Window side.
    When the double-sided arrow displays, drag to resize the Watch window.

How to adjust Excel Watch Window width

2. Hover to the right of a column heading.
When the double-headed arrow displays, drag to adjust the width of the column.
How to adjust Excel Watch Window column width

Docking the Watch Window

There is no need to close the Watch window. You can move or dock the Watch window like a toolbar.

  1. Hover over the Watch Window.
    When the four-headed arrow displays, drag the Watch Window to the top, bottom or either side of the screen.

With the Watch window displayed, you can scroll to other parts of the worksheet, switch to other worksheets in the workbook or switch to other workbooks.

Note: Cells that contain links to other workbooks only appear in the Watch window if the other workbooks are open.

Deleting Cells from the Watch Window

Select a cell or multiple cells in the Watch Window to delete, then click the Delete Watch button.
How to delete cell to watch in Excel Watch Window

The Watch Window eliminates the need for you to constantly scroll through large worksheets and switch between worksheets to check formula results.

Give it a try, the next time you find yourself scrolling through enormous worksheets.