Excel Tip: The Camera Tool – a cool view

Excel’s Camera tool is a really cool, but relatively obscure tool that lets you create a window on your spreadsheet that shows a vignette of a block of cells. The screen clip shown here demonstrates it in action. The Camera tool is pretty well hidden, so the first trick is finding the button to add to your toolbar. Here’s how:

Adding the Camera tool to your Toolbar

  1. Right-click on the Excel toolbar / select Customize
  2. Select the Command tab
  3. Select the Tools category
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the available tools, the Camera tool is 10 or so from the bottom. Select it and drag it to your desired spot on your toolbar

Using the Excel Camera tool

  1. Select the Cells that you want to feature in your vignette window
  2. Click the Camera button, you get Cross hairs
  3. Select any sheet in your work book and draw the vignette box where you want to display it.

Now, whatever you do to the original cells will show an exact replica in your vignette window. You can resize the window by clicking on it and dragging the corners. You can also format it by right-clicking on the box and selecting Format Picture. In Excel 2007, you can also rotate the box. In Excel 2000, this is disabled.

One drawback (and perhaps fatally so) is that it is a one-way street from the Original cells to the vignette. You can’t update the cells in the vignette directly, all changes have to be made in the original.

Let us know if you’ve found a use for this nifty little feature.

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One Response to Excel Tip: The Camera Tool – a cool view

  1. Bharadwaj August 10, 2009 at 1:19 am #

    I have created almost 200 images (tiny ones) using Camera tool and based on the some criteria, I hide/unhide these images (by formating the original base).

    I find the excel response has come down drastically to an extent that if I enter some text ina cell and press return key, it takes about 5-6 seconds or sometimes even more than 10 seconds to go to the next row.

    Want to know is it because of the images created using Camera tool as these are linked images? And there are no functions or macros written. Wonder why the application is slow. If anyone has a solution for this, please do share… would be very grateful. Thanks

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