Excel: Full-screen Mode and Sketch TypesBy
They say no one knows every feature in Excel. This adage must apply to the Excel team in Redmond, Wash., because they just added a new full-screen mode feature to Excel when the old Full Screen View was never actually removed.
Why would you need full-screen mode in Excel? It might be useful when you need to display a lot of numbers on a kiosk display, but no one will actually be interacting with the spreadsheet. The ribbon interface is hidden, and you can display the maximum number of rows able to fit on the screen.
There was a Full Screen View in Excel more than a decade ago. I went looking for it in 2019 and found a 2013-era Microsoft Knowledge Base article saying that Full Screen View was removed from Excel as of the release of Excel 2013. This wasn’t a great loss for me since I rarely used full screen. After all, they removed it in 2013, and I didn’t miss it until six years later.
A “NEW FULL-SCREEN MODE”
Recently, the beta version of Excel introduced a new choice in the drop-down menu at the bottom-right corner of the ribbon. As shown in Figure 1, you can now choose full-screen mode. How exciting: A full-screen view is back.
There are a number of statistics that are often cited when discussing the quality of a monitor, such as display size, aspect ratio, resolution, and so forth. But for me, it all comes down to one important question: How many rows and columns can I see in Excel?
The number of rows visible in Excel depends on your monitor size, display settings, and the font you’re using. For the sake of comparison, all of these statistics are from the same 24-inch monitor:
- If you choose “Always show Ribbon,” you can see 37 rows in Excel.
- If you choose “Show tabs only,” you can see 42 rows in Excel. The shortcut for this setting is Ctrl+F1.
- If you choose “Full-screen mode,” you can see 46 rows in Excel. In this mode, you see a green title bar, the formula bar, the column letters, 46 rows of the grid, and then the ribbon tabs and status bar. To exit this mode, use the “three-dots” icon at the top-right to temporarily display the ribbon, and then open the same drop-down shown in Figure 1. Alternatively, Ctrl+Shift+F1 will toggle in and out of this mode.
The return of the full-screen mode is a somewhat interesting conversation if you’re talking to people who spend most of their working week using Excel. It was a great factoid to tell people: “Microsoft took Full Screen View out of Excel eight years ago, and they just brought it back.” But after sharing this fact with a number of people, I encountered two people who told me that they’ve been using Toggle Full Screen View every day of their lives continuously for many years.
After investigating, it turns out that there has been an icon that you could add to the Quick Access Toolbar to get into the “discontinued” Full Screen View. Right-click the ribbon and choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar. From the top-left drop-down menu, choose All Commands. Until recently, you had to scroll to the “T” section to find Toggle Full Screen View. Recently, it moved to the “F” section, under Full Screen [Toggle Full Screen View]. This ancient command, allegedly removed from Excel 2013, doesn’t show the formula bar and manages to fit 48 rows in Excel. This view is the “best” at showing the grid full screen. To exit this view, press the Esc key.
It’s a mystery why the official Excel documentation says that the “best” full-screen view has long since been removed from Excel and why it’s still there but only known to a small percentage of people using Excel. Did the engineers who designed the new full-screen mode know that this old Toggle Full Screen View was still available? I’ve asked, but they have no comment.
Full-screen mode isn’t the only feature introduced recently. The Office interface was redrawn for the release of Windows 11. The one recurring theme in the new interface is that many corners that used to be at a 90-degree angle have now been rounded. You’ll see the rounded corners in the sheet tabs at the bottom, in the name box and formula bar above the grid, and at the ends of the ribbon itself.
Another part of this theme is a new property for shapes that you add to your spreadsheet. With a shape selected, go to Shape Format and open the Shape Outline drop-down menu. A new “Sketched” flyout menu opens at the bottom, offering sketch types of “None,” “Curved,” “Freehand,” and “Scribble,” as shown in Figure 2.
Yet most of the changes announced for the new Windows 11 refresh of Excel aren’t new at all. If you’ve been a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you’ve also already had access to XLOOKUP, dynamic arrays, data types, AI, and the LET function.