Excel Secret Camera

Discover Excel’s Secret Camera Tool

By Marie McCooey

You’ve heard there’s a camera in Excel.

But, you’re confused.

What is an Excel Camera tool and how do you use it?

Similar to a real camera, you can use Excel’s Camera to take live pictures of rectangular cell ranges in your workbook including:

  • Cell values
  • Formulas
  • Charts

and display a mirror image of the cell range in a different location in your workbook.

When the data in the image’s cell range changes, the snapshot image automatically updates with the latest cell values, formats, etc.

Imagine the possibilities of where you could use this hidden gem.

It would be so helpful when building dashboards and reports.

But, you can’t find an Excel camera on any of the Excel ribbon tabs.

This hidden, but useful tool is not included in the Ribbon.

Before you can use the Camera tool, you need to add it to your Quick Access Toolbar.

Adding the Camera Tool to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)

  1. Click the Customize Quick Access Toolbar drop-down arrow.
    Customize Quick Access Toolbar
  2. Select the All Commands option.
    Select More Commands
  3. Scroll to the commands that start with ‘C’.
    Select Camera command
  4. Select the Camera option, click the Add button and click OK.
    The camera is added to the Quick Access Toolbar.
    Camera on QAT

You can use the Camera to

  • Track Summary Cells of a Large Worksheet
    Take a snapshot of your worksheet’s summary area at the end of your worksheet and place the image at the top of your worksheet where it’s easily visible.
  • Monitor Important Dashboard Cells Located in Different Worksheets
    Create live images of all the essential cells and place them on your dashboard worksheet.
    Any changes to the formulas, formats, values, charts, etc. within the picture are also reflected in the location you save the image to.
    Another alternative to monitoring important cells is Excel’s Watch window.
  • Create Micro Charts
    1. Select the cells surrounding the chart.
      Snapshot of Chart
    2. Click the Camera tool.
    3. Click anywhere on the worksheet.
      Excel places a snapshot of the chart you selected.
    4. Resize it to the desired micro chart size.
      Snapshot Micro Chart

How to Take Snapshots with Excel’s Camera Tool

  1. Select the cells to display in your snapshot.
    Note: if you’re taking a snapshot of a graph you will need to align the graph to the underlying cells first.
  2. Click the Camera icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.
  3. Click anywhere on the worksheet to place the snapshot.
    Snapshot Position
  4. Use the handles to resize and reposition the snapshot.
    Snapshot Resize
  5. Right-click the image and select Format Picture to:
    • Format the image
    • Remove borders
    • Crop the picture

Helpful Tips when Working with Snapshots

When you select a range to capture, Excel links to a specific cell range and applies absolute cell addressing to the image, e.g. =$D$17:$G$17
.If you select the picture and look in the formula bar, you can see the cell range the picture refers to.
Snapshot Absolute ReferencingNote: The worksheet’s name is NOT included in the cell referencing.

To copy the image to another sheet in the same workbook and maintain the link to the original worksheet, the worksheet’s name enclosed in single quotes followed by an exclamation point must be added to the cell range reference, e.g. =’2016 Sales’!$D$17:$G$17.

Snapshot with Sheet Name

Camera Tips

  • The camera image can be moved or resized.
    However, the image becomes blurred when you reduce the image size substantially.
  • The user cannot change the camera image.
  • The camera images do not reproduce well when printed, so it’s best to view them on the screen.

Deleting a Camera Image

Select the Image and press Delete.
Note: Deleting an image will not impact the original cells in the image.