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For My Eyes Only

For My Eyes Only

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re working on sensitive material in MS Excel and someone walks up behind you?

What do you do?

Do you quickly minimize the entire program?

Yeah, I’ve done that too. But what if you need Excel to work on something else with the person who came in?

You could go through the hassle of closing and saving the file—but there’s a faster way.

Why not just hide the file?

Hide it?

Yes, hide it. (I realize it’s not a piece of paper you can just shove in a desk drawer, but Excel has you covered on this issue.)

Here’s the deal…

Next time you need to quickly remove a workbook from someone else’s eyesight simply go to the Window menu and choose Hide. (Pressing the Alt, then W, then H keys one at a time will accomplish the same thing.)

Instantly, the current workbook will be hidden from view.

If you take a look at the list of open files in the Window menu you’ll find that the workbooks is no longer listed. (Good news… this means you can’t accidentally switch to the file you do not want viewed.)

Now let’s move ahead a bit.

Let’s suppose that you’re ready to get back to work on your hidden file. It’s definitely not on the list in the Window menu so what do you do?

You unhide it, of course.

Return to the Window menu and choose Unhide this time. (The keys Alt, W then U one after another will do the same thing.)

A window will pop open listing all hidden files.


Choose the workbook you need to unhide and click OK. You’ll be returned to Excel with your workbook active and ready for you to continue.

At this point I can hear just one more question…

Are you wondering what will happen if you forget to unhide a workbook and try to close Excel?

Excel-lent question!

Basically, Excel will ask if you want to save the file—the same way it does with all open files when the program closes. Choose yes or no and proceed the same as you would with any other file.

The difference comes in when you open the file again at a later time. Upon reopening, the file will immediately be hidden. You’ll need to return to the Window menu to unhide it and then, once again, you’re ready to go.

(If you forget this little nugget of information you’ll most likely think that your workbook has somehow been erased. Not a great feeling, so keep this warning in mind.)

And there you have it. A quick and easy way to hide the workbook so no one else can see it.

It’s a little like “hiding the clutter”. Come to think of it – the hide / unhide label is probably one I should give to my coat closet. It’s amazing how much stuff can be hidden in there.

~ April

P.S. You can do the same thing with a worksheet within a workbook through the Format menu, Sheet submenu, then the Hide choice. (Then Unhide to get the worksheet back.)