1.4. Saving Files
As everyone who's been alive for at least three days knows , you should save your work early and often. Excel is no exception. You have two choices for saving a spreadsheet file:
Tip: Resaving a spreadsheet is an almost instantaneous operation, and you should get used to doing it all the time. After you've made any significant change, just hit Ctrl+S to make sure you've stored the latest version of your data.
1.4.1. The Excel 2007 File Format
Since time immemorial, Excel fans have been saving their lovingly crafted spreadsheets in . xls files (as in AirlineSilverware.xls). Excel 2007 changes all that. In fact, it introduces a completely new file format, with the extension . xlsx (as in AirlineSilverware.xlsx).
At first glance, this seems a tad over the top. But the new file format has some real advantages:
For all these reasons, .xlsx is the format of choice for Excel 2007. However, Microsoft prefers to give people all the choices they could ever need (rather than make life really simple), and Excel file formats are no exception. The new Excel file format actually has three related flavors. Along with the standard .xlsx, there's the closely related .xls m cousin, which adds the ability to store macro code. If you've added any macros to your spreadsheet, Excel prompts you to use this file type when you save your spreadsheet. (You'll learn about macro code in Chapter 27.)
Finally, your third choice is .xls b , which is a specialized option that just might be faster when you're opening and saving gargantuan spreadsheets. The .xlsb format has the same automatic compression and error-resistance as .xlsx, but it doesn't use XML. Instead, it stores information in raw binary form (good ol' ones and zeroes), which is speedier in some situations. To use the .xlsb format, choose Office button Save As, and then, from the "Save as type list, choose Excel Binary Workbook (.xlsb).
Note: Don't use the .xlsb format unless you've tried it out and find it really does give better performance for one of your spreadsheets. Usually, .xlsx and .xlsb are just as fast. And remember, the only time you'll see any improvement is when you're loading or saving a file. Once your spreadsheet is open in Excel, everything else (like scrolling around and performing calculations) happens at the same speed.
1.4.2. Saving Your Spreadsheet in Older Formats
Most of the time, you don't need to think about Excel's file formatyou can just create your spreadsheets, save them, and let Excel take care of the rest. The only time you need to stop and think twice is when you need to share your work with other, less fortunate people who have older versions of Excel.
When you find yourself in this situation, you have two choices:
Often, the best thing you can do is keep your spreadsheet in the newer format and save a copy in the older format (using Office button Save As Excel 97-2003 Format). You can then hand that copy out to your backward friends .
Some eccentric individuals have even older or stranger spreadsheet software on their computers. If you want to save a copy of your spreadsheet in a more exotic file type, you can choose Office button Save As, and then find the desired format in the "Save as type drop-down list (Figure 1-18). Excel lets you save your spreadsheet using a variety of different formats, including the classic Excel 95 format from a decade ago. If you're looking to view your spreadsheet using a mystery program, use the CSV file type, which produces a comma-delimited text file that almost all spreadsheet applications on any operating system can read (commadelimited means the information has commas separating each cell ).
Tip: When you save your Excel spreadsheet in another format, make sure you keep a copy in the standard .xlsx format. Why bother? Because other formats aren't guaranteed to retain all your information, particularly if you choose a format that doesn't support some of Excel's newer features.
220.127.116.11. Compatibility mode
There's one stumbling block that you can't avoid when dealing with older Excel versions. Each version of Excel introduces a small set of new features. Older versions of Excel don't support these features. For example, Excel 2007 introduces a few new formula functions like SUMIFS (Section 13.1.4). If you use this function to create a calculation, it won't work on older versions of Excel.
Excel tries to help you out by spotting and preventing potential problems. If you save a spreadsheet in the old .xls file format and that spreadsheet uses Excel 2007only features, Excel switches into compatibility mode . Excel also switches to compatibility mode when you open an .xls file.
Tip: You'll know you're in compatibility mode by looking at the title bar at the top of the Excel window. Instead of seeing something like CateringList.xlsx, you'll see CateringList.xls [Compatibility Mode].
In compatibility mode, Excel tries to stop you from using features that aren't supported on older Excel versions. For example:
In compatibility mode these missing features aren't anywhere to be found. In fact, compatibility mode is so seamless that you might not even notice you're being limited.
18.104.22.168. The Compatibility Checker
Compatibility mode can't catch everything. For example, it doesn't stop you from using a function that's new to Excel 2007, like SUMIFS( ), a handy tool for calculating conditional sums (Section 13.1.4). And it's no help if you use Excel 2007-only features while editing a normal .xlsx file, and then save an .xls copy later on. In this situation, you don't enter compatibility mode until after the damage is done.
To catch problems like these, Excel has another tool, called the Compatibility Checker. Whenever you save your spreadsheet file to the .xls format, the Compatibility Checker runs first, looking for signs of trouble. It then reports any problems back to you (Figure 1-19).
You can choose to ignore the Compatibility Checker issues, click Find to hunt each one down, or click Help to figure out the exact problem. You can also click Copy to New Sheet to insert a full compatibility report into your spreadsheet as a separate worksheet (Section 4.1). This way, you can print it up and review it in the comfort of your cubicle . (To get back to the worksheet with your data, click the Sheet1 tab at the bottom of the window. Chapter 4 has more about how to use and manage multiple worksheets.)
Note: The problems that the Compatibility Checker finds won't cause serious errors, like crashing your computer or corrupting your data. That's because Excel is designed to degrade gracefully . That means you can still open a spreadsheet that uses newer, unsupported features in an old version of Excel. However, you may receive a warning message and part of the spreadsheet may seem brokenthat is, it doesn't work as you intended.
The Compatibility Checker is a great way to get an early warning about potential problems in sharing your spreadsheets. However, it works only if you choose to save your spreadsheet in the old .xls format. As you learned a bit earlier, there's another optionpeople who are using an older version of Excel can install a free add-in (Section 1.4.2) that allows them to open .xlsx files. Of course, this doesn't help you avoid the headaches caused by new features. If you use, say, Excel 2003 to open a .xlsx file with Excel 2007-only features, it's just the same as opening a .xls file with unsupported featurespart of your worksheet might not work the way it should. And these problems can creep up on you because when you save .xlsx files, you don't get any advance warning if you're using features that could cause a problem with older versions of Excel.
Fortunately, there's an easy solution. Even if you're saving your spreadsheets using the new and shiny .xlsx file format, you can still run the Compatibility Checker to see if your spreadsheet could cause a problem for people with an older version of Excel. To run the compatibility checker at will, choose Office button Prepare Run Compatibility Checker.
Tip: If you find yourself using the Compatibility Checker often, you can set it to run automatically when you save the current spreadsheet file. Just fire up the Compatibility Checker (using Office button Prepare Run Compatibility Checker), and then turn on the "Check compatibility when saving this workbook checkbox. Now, the Compatibility Checker will run each time you save your spreadsheet, before the file is updated, just as it does when you're saving an old-school .xls file.
1.4.3. Saving Your Spreadsheet As a PDF
Sometimes you want to save a copy of your spreadsheet so that people can read it even if they don't have Excel (and even if they're running a different operating system, like Linux or Apple's OS X). In this situation, you have several choices:
To get the Save As PDF add-in, surf to www.microsoft.com/downloads and search for "PDF." The links lead you to a page where you can download the add-in and install it with just a couple of clicks.
Note: There's a variation of the Save As PDF add-in, which is named "Save As PDF or XPS." This variation gives you the ability to save spreadsheets as PDF files or XPS files. (XPS is Microsoft's new electronic paper standard, as described in the "Learning to Love PDFs" box in Section 1.4.3.)
Once you install the Save As PDF add-in, all your Office applications have the ability to save their documents in PDF format. In Excel, you work this magic by choosing Office button Save As PDF, which brings up the "Publish as PDF dialog box (Figure 1-20).
When you save a PDF file, you get a few extra options in the Save As dialog box. PDF files can be saved with different resolution and quality settings (which mostly affect any graphical objects that you've placed in your workbook, like pictures and charts). Normally, you use higher quality settings if you're planning to print your PDF file, because printers use higher resolutions than computer monitors .
The "Publish as PDF" dialog box gives you some control over the quality settings with the "Optimize for" options. If you're just saving a PDF copy so other people can view the information in your workbook, choose "Minimum size (publishing online)" to save some space. On the other hand, if there's a possibility that the people reading your PDF might want to print it out, choose "Standard (publishing online and printing)" to save a slightly larger PDF that makes for a better printout.
Finally, if you want to publish only a portion of your spreadsheet as a PDF file, click the Options button to open a dialog box with even more settings. You can choose to publish just a fixed number of pages, just the selected cells, and so on. These options mirror the choices you get when sending a spreadsheet to the printer (Section 7.2.1). You also see a few more cryptic options, most of which you can safely ignore. (They're intended for PDF nerds.) One exception is the "Document properties" optionturn this off if you don't want the PDF to keep track of certain information that identifies you, like your name. (Excel document properties are discussed in more detail in Section 23.1.1.)
Tip: Getting the Save As PDF add-in is a bit of a hassle, but it's well worth the effort. In previous versions of Excel, people who wanted to create PDFs file had to get another add-in or buy the expensive full version of the Adobe Acrobat software. The Save As PDF feature was originally slated for inclusion in Excel (with no add-in required), but anti-trust concerns caused ultra -cautious Microsoft to leave it out.
1.4.4. Saving Your Spreadsheet with a Password
Occasionally, you might want to add confidential information to a spreadsheetfor example, a list of the airlines from which you've stolen spoons. If your computer is on a network, the solution may be as simple as storing your file in the correct, protected location. But if you're afraid that you might inadvertently email the spreadsheet to the wrong people (say, executives at American Airlines), or if you're about to expose systematic accounting irregularities in your company's year-end statements, you'll be happy to know that Excel provides a tighter degree of security. It allows you to password-protect your spreadsheets, which means anyone who wants to open them has to know the password you've set.
Excel actually has two layers of password protection that you can apply to a spreadsheet:
You can apply one or both of these restrictions to a spreadsheet. Applying them is easy. Just follow these steps:
1.4.5. Disaster Recovery
The corollary to the edict "Save your data early and often" is the truism "Sometimes things fall apart quickly before you've even had a chance to back up." Fortunately, Excel includes an invaluable safety net called AutoRecover.
AutoRecover periodically saves backup copies of your spreadsheet while you work. If you suffer a system crash, you can retrieve the last AutoRecover backup even if you never managed to save the file yourself. Of course, even the AutoRecover backup won't necessarily have all the information you entered in your spreadsheet before the problem occurred. But if AutoRecover saves a backup every 10 minutes (the standard), at most you'll lose 10 minutes of work.
AutoRecover comes switched on when you install Excel, but you can tweak its settings. Select Office Excel Options, and then choose the Save section. Under the "Save workbooks section, make sure that "Save AutoRecover information" is turned on. You can also make a few other changes to AutoRecover settings:
If your computer does crash, when you get it running again, you can easily retrieve your last AutoRecover backup. In fact, the next time you launch Excel, it automatically checks the backup folder, and, if it finds a backup, it opens a Document Recovery panel on the left of the Excel window.
If your computer crashes in mid-edit, the next time you open Excel you'll probably see the same file listed twice in the Document Recovery window, as shown in Figure 1-24. The difference is the status. The status [AutoSaved] indicates the most recent backup created by Excel. The status [Original] indicates the last version of the file that you saved (which is safely stored on your hard drive, right where you expect it).
To open a file that's in the Document Recovery window, just click it. You can also use a drop-down menu with additional options (Figure 1-24). Make sure you save the file before you leave Excel. After all, it's just a temporary backup.
If you attempt to open a backup file that's somehow been scrambled (technically known as corrupted ), Excel automatically attempts to repair it. You can choose Show Repairs to display a list of any changes Excel had to make to recover the file.