Excel users upgrading to 2013 won't have much trouble acclimating to the new tools and options. But even though the interface is similar, a few features and options have been deprecated or rerouted — including the following items. I've compared desktop versions on individual systems. This review doesn't include Excel Services or the new mobile version.
1: Save Workspace
Save Workspace is helpful when you regularly work with the same set of workbooks. You can avoid the hassle of reopening them by saving them as a workspace. You can then open the workspace to open all the workbooks at once. You won't find this feature in Excel 2013, nor can you add it to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). You can still open workspace files (*.xlw) created in earlier versions.
2: Split control
Using the Split control, you can quickly divide the screen. Each scroll bar has one and this feature is a personal favorite. Unfortunately, these controls are gone in Excel 2013. To split the screen, use Split in the Windows group on the View tab.
3: Blank workbook when launching
When you launch earlier versions of Excel, it displays a blank workbook. Excel 2013 displays the start screen instead. You can disable this new default, as follows:
- Click the File tab and choose Options.
- Choose General in the left pane.
- In the Start Up Options section, uncheck the Show The Start Screen When This application Starts option.
- Click OK.
The next time you launch Excel 2013, it will bypass the start screen and open a blank workbook.
4: Change Chart Type
One of the more efficient charting options in earlier versions lets you change the chart type for an individual series — quite easily, in fact. You simply right-click the series you want to change and choose Change Series Chart Type from the shortcut menu. If you try this in Excel 2013, you'll change the chart type for all the series in the chart, not just one. Excel 2013 users will have to create a combo chart, which will take a bit more work.
5: Chart template
Excel 2007 and 2010 offer a Save As Template option on the contextual Design tab. Creating a chart template is an efficient way to save custom settings you want to reuse. This option is missing from Excel 2013's Ribbon, but you can still create your own chart templates by right-clicking the chart and choosing Save As Template.
6: File Open
In older versions, you can display the File Open dialog by clicking the File tab and choosing Open or choosing Open from the QAT. Both routes in Excel 2013 display the Backstage View, which some users will appreciate. But users wanting to open files quickly will be annoyed. You can bypass the Backstage View as follows:
- Click the File tab and then choose Options.
- Choose Save in the left pane.
- Check the Don't Show The Backstage When Opening Or Saving Files option.
- Click OK.
7: More Backstage changes
Excel's Exit command (File tab, Office button, and File menu) closes all open files at once. It's no longer available in the Backstage View. It's not totally gone, though. You can add the Exit command to the QAT or right-click the application icon on the Windows Taskbar and choose Close All Windows.
In addition, you can no longer create a new workbook based on an old one using the New command. In Office 2013 applications, use the Recent section (on the File tab) to work only with open files, using the Open From Copy command on the shortcut menu. You can still use Windows Explorer to locate a document and choose New instead of Open to work with unopened files.
8: Chart types
Earlier versions offered too many chart types (according to Microsoft). Excel 2013 users can't insert a 3D cone, pyramid, or cylinder chart. Microsoft recommends that you create a 3D rectangle chart and then change the shape after the fact.
9: Fax templates
Fax templates aren't included out-of-the-box (for most of the Office applications), to reduce the size of the Office installation. You can still download most of them by clicking the File tab, choosing New, and then typing fax into the Search For Online Templates control. It's a small omission, but it might confuse regular fax users.
10: Taskbar confusion
Excel 2013 opens all simultaneous workbooks in separate windows (Windows 8). Most users will probably appreciate the change. It's similar to having several instances of Excel open. It means that Excel 2013 deprecated settings for the Show Windows In Taskbar options, but that loss probably won't affect most users.
11: Clip Organizer and Picture Manager
The Insert Media dialog box replaces the Clip Organizer in Office 2013. This new feature lets you insert online content from online clip art collections and other online sources. In addition, Windows Photo Gallery replaces Picture Manager.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.