Skip to main content

Microsoft is improving the Excel experience with this one tiny tweak

Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is testing smooth scrolling in Excel.
  • The feature lets you stop scrolling in the middle of a row or column.
  • Smooth scrolling is available in the Beta Channel or Current Channel Preview with Version 2109 (Build 14430.20000) or later.

Microsoft is testing a feature that may get rid of one of the most irritating parts of scrolling through spreadsheets in Excel. Currently, Excel snaps to the top of a cell when you scroll. This can make it difficult to view content within a larger cell, such as one with multiple lines of content. Smooth scrolling fixes this by allowing Excel to stop in the middle of a specific row or column when scrolling.

Microsoft's Tech Community post (opens in new tab) on the feature emphasizes that implementing smooth scrolling is quite complex. "Though you might think this is an easy fix, simply requiring the alteration of a few lines of code, there's actually a lot more to it," says Microsoft's Steve Kraynak. "In fact, we learned that this change affects many different aspects of Excel, including freezing panes, resizing rows, cutting and pasting, filtering, cell styles, comments, dragging and filling, and more."

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

For everyday users of Excel, the important thing is that Microsoft is working on smooth scrolling. It's available to Insiders on Windows in the Beta Channel or Current Channel Preview with Version 2109 (Build 14430.20000) or later. If you're interested in the technical aspects of how Microsoft developed smooth scrolling, the Tech Community post goes into more detail.

One aspect the post breaks down is that Excel calculates where certain content should be based on the distance from the top left cell. Microsoft had to do a lot of work to make sure that items like charts would appear in the correct place when stopping midway through a cell.

If you aren't an Insider yet, you can follow our guide on how to enroll in the Office Insider program.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

8 Comments
  • Smooth scrolling is a good addition, but it only really helps when you have rows that are very tall or columns that are very wide. Otherwise I don't really notice and I'm in Excel all the time. The one Excel ergonomic change that really is big is the ability to scroll horizontally (Shift + Ctrl + mousewheel, vs. Shift + mousewheel in Edge and Explorer). Very happy to have that now. I just wish we had this in OneNote.
  • Yeah, those big cells really make scrolling a bear, especially on a smaller screen. But BY FAR my biggest gripe with Excel is the universal Undo. I can't believe that in 2021, we still have a single Undo queue for all Excel workbooks. Nothing irks me more than hitting Undo and having another Excel file pop to the foreground and realizing I have 5 operations there I have to Undo or otherwise deal with before I can undo anything in my currently active workbook.
  • Finaly, something wished for since dawn of time.
  • Finally! Now, to get rid of the random inability to edit when I have multiple spreadsheets open.
  • I edit spreadsheets with other spreadsheets open all the time. Try exiting the formula editing mode in one of the other spreadsheets.
  • Right. I think that's the point...not having to stop editing a cell in one spreadsheet in order to edit in a cell in another spreadsheet. I used to be able to work around this by opening multiple instances of Excel as separate OS processes Alas, that ability went away a while ago at some point; they changed something in the OS or in Excel that prevents doing this. At least, I haven't found a way to do it.
  • What's the use case in editing formulas in two spreadsheets at the same time?
  • Good - if they could also sort out the problem with excel not opening, without multiple attempts, a second file once you have one file open which has plagued me across multiple PC's and editions of Office and come up with a preview-handler in Explorer that works more than 50% of the time, then all would be good.