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What’s new in Excel 2019: Themes, CSV and sharing tools

24th Jan 2019
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Liam Bastick reports on the new features of Office 2019, including accesibility features, sharing options, themes and CSV improvements. 

Better accessibility features

Before sharing your spreadsheet, in Excel 2019 you can run the ‘Accessibility Checker’ to ensure your content is easy for people of all abilities to read and edit. On the ribbon, click the ‘Review’ tab and then click ‘Check Accessibility’:

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This will provide review results. You may see a list of errors, warning, and tips with how-to-fix recommendations for each. Excel 2019 now offers one-click fixes and is better than ever with updated support for international standards and handy recommendations to make your documents more accessible for all users.

Helpful sounds improve accessibility, but be careful: when you make changes to settings, the option affects all Microsoft Office programs that support this. Having said that, you can turn on audio cues to guide you as you work.

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In the ‘File’ menu, select ‘Options’ (ALT + T + O). On the ‘Ease of Access’ tab, under ‘Feedback Options’, select or clear the ‘Provide feedback with sound checkbox’. If you wish, you can use the original Office sound effects by selecting the ‘Classic theme’ from the ‘Sound Theme’ drop-down.

Sharing and Saving

You can now attach hyperlinks to recent cloud-based files or websites and create meaningful display names for people using screen readers. To add a link to a recently used file, on the ‘Insert’ tab, choose ‘Link’ and select any file from the displayed list.

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That’s not all. You may also view and restore changes in workbooks that are shared. You can now quickly view who has made changes in workbooks that are shared, and easily restore earlier versions.

Microsoft Office automatically saves versions of your SharePoint, OneDrive and OneDrive for Business files while you’re working on them (we have covered this before and not necessarily favourably!). These versions allow you to look back and understand how your files evolved over time and allow you to restore older versions in case you have made a mistake.

Version history in Office only works for files stored in OneDrive or SharePoint Online. If you don't see this option it's possible your file is stored in a different service or on a local device. To view historical versions:

  1. Open the file you were working on
  2. Click the File > Info and select ‘View and restore previous versions’

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  1. The ‘Version history’ tab will open. Click a version to open and view it in a separate window.

With the version you want to restore open in your application, click ‘Restore’ in the message bar at the top of the opened version. Restore will save your current file as a new version and then replace your current file with the contents of the version you chose to restore.

You can quickly save to recent folders too. Go to File > Save As > Recent, and you’ll see a list of recently accessed folders that you can save to.

Selecting only what you want

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Excel will now let you deselect cells or a range of cells from your current selection. Microsoft has just rolled this out for PC and Mac subscription users of Office 365.

To "unselect" (it's a new word, look it up!) a selected cell, hold down the CTRL button (or Command on a Mac) key and click on the cells you want to deselect. To unselect a range of selected cells, hold down the CTRL (or again, the Command for Mac) key and drag the range you want to deselect, starting from within the selected range.

Don’t get confused with the cell in the top left-hand corner of the range selected remaining white! You can have fun experimenting what that looks like when it is de-selected.

Quick access to Superscript and Subscript

Now, this one made me laugh. This is apparently a new feature, but we swear you have been able to do this since the Quick Access Toolbar came out! You can now add these features to the Quick Access Toolbar. Wow.

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There you go. If ever there was a business case to go out and buy Excel 2019, that certainly wasn’t it.

Improved AutoComplete

Microsoft has improved the AutoComplete functionality in that you no longer need to be so precise to find what you are looking for. Excel will now look for functions or range names that contain the phrase sought. This will help immensely when you cannot quite remember what it was you are looking for. This one is cool.

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New themes

There are now three Office Themes that you can apply: Colorful (sic), Dark Gray and White. To access these themes, go to File >Options > General, and then click the drop-down menu next to ‘Office Theme’.

Black theme

The highest-contrast Office theme yet has arrived. To change your Office theme, go to File > Account, and then click the drop-down menu next to Office Theme. The theme you choose will be applied across all your Office apps.

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Perfect for hangovers and for reflecting your mood when you have to work late, we originally claimed we weren’t quite sure this was going to catch on, but we have seen many clients adopt this. I suppose once you go black you never go back…

Translator

Translate words, phrases, or sentences to another language with Microsoft Translator. You can do this from the ‘Review’ tab in the Ribbon:

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CSV improvements

Remember this warning: "This file may contain features that are not compatible with CSV..."? Well, apparently no one wanted it. So Microsoft has got rid of it when you save a CSV file.

Furthermore, you can now open and save CSV files that use UTF-8 character encoding. Go to File > Save As > Browse. Then click the ‘Save as type’ menu, and you'll find the new option for ‘CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited)’.

CSV UTF-8 is a commonly used file format that supports more characters than Excel’s existing CSV option (ANSI). What does this mean in English? Better support for working with non-English data, and ease of moving data to other applications.

Data Loss Protection (DLP) in Excel

Data Loss Protection (DLP) is a high-value enterprise feature that is well loved in Outlook. Now it is being introduced into Excel to enable real time scan of content based on a set of predefined policies for the most common sensitive data types (eg credit card numbers, social security numbers and [US] bank account numbers).

This capability will also enable the synchronisation of DLP policies from Office 365 in Excel, Word and PowerPoint, and provide organisations with unified policies across content stored in Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.

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