Excel Tutorial: How To Make Excel Work Faster


As Excel users, we can all relate to the frustration of a slow and lagging spreadsheet. Whether you are working with large datasets or complex formulas, Excel performance is crucial for efficiency and productivity. In this Excel tutorial, we will discuss some tips and tricks to make Excel work faster, allowing you to work seamlessly and effectively.

Explanation of the importance of Excel performance

  • Improved productivity
  • Efficient data analysis
  • Reduced frustration and time wasted

Brief overview of the tips to be discussed

  • Optimizing formulas and functions
  • Reducing file size
  • Utilizing keyboard shortcuts
  • Disabling unnecessary add-ins

Key Takeaways

  • Excel performance is crucial for efficiency and productivity.
  • Improving Excel performance leads to improved productivity, efficient data analysis, and reduced frustration and time wasted.
  • Tips and tricks to make Excel work faster include optimizing formulas, reducing file size, utilizing keyboard shortcuts, and disabling unnecessary add-ins.
  • Additional tips discussed in the blog post include clearing unnecessary formatting, disabling automatic calculations, using the "Paste Special" feature, limiting the use of volatile functions, and minimizing the use of complex formulas.
  • Prioritizing Excel performance is key to better productivity and effectiveness in using the software.

Clearing unnecessary formatting

When working with large Excel files, excessive cell formatting can slow down the performance of the program. In order to make Excel work faster, it is important to clear unnecessary formatting from your spreadsheet.

How to remove excessive cell formatting

  • Step 1: Open your Excel spreadsheet and select the range of cells that you want to remove the formatting from.
  • Step 2: Right-click on the selected cells and choose "Format Cells" from the drop-down menu.
  • Step 3: In the "Format Cells" dialog box, go to the "Number" tab and select "General" from the list of categories.
  • Step 4: Click "OK" to remove the formatting from the selected cells.

Using the "Clear Formats" tool

  • Step 1: Select the range of cells from which you want to clear the formatting.
  • Step 2: Go to the "Home" tab on the Excel ribbon.
  • Step 3: In the "Editing" group, click on the "Clear" dropdown button.
  • Step 4: Choose "Clear Formats" from the dropdown menu.

Disabling automatic calculations

Excel is a powerful tool, but sometimes it can slow down when performing automatic calculations. By disabling this feature, you can make Excel work faster and more efficiently.

A. Explanation of how automatic calculations can slow down Excel

When Excel is set to automatically calculate formulas and functions, it can consume a lot of system resources. This can cause the program to run slowly, especially when working with large datasets or complex formulas.

B. Step-by-step guide to disable automatic calculations

Disabling automatic calculations can help improve the performance of Excel. Here's a step-by-step guide to do it:

  • Step 1: Open Excel and go to the "Formulas" tab on the ribbon.
  • Step 2: In the "Calculation Options" group, you will see the "Automatic" option selected by default. Click on it to open the drop-down menu.
  • Step 3: Select "Manual" from the drop-down menu. This will change the calculation mode from automatic to manual.
  • Step 4: Once you have selected "Manual," Excel will no longer recalculate formulas and functions automatically. You will need to press the "F9" key to manually recalculate the sheet, or use the "Calculate Now" button in the "Formulas" tab.
  • Step 5: To revert back to automatic calculations, simply go back to the "Calculation Options" drop-down menu and select "Automatic."

By following these steps, you can easily disable automatic calculations in Excel and improve its performance when working with large datasets and complex formulas.

Using the "Paste Special" feature

One of the most powerful tools in Microsoft Excel that can significantly enhance your work speed is the "Paste Special" feature.

A. How "Paste Special" can improve efficiency

The "Paste Special" feature allows you to paste the content of the clipboard in a variety of ways, such as values, formulas, formats, and more. This can greatly improve efficiency by allowing you to paste only the specific elements that you need, without having to manually adjust the data afterward.

B. Examples of when to use "Paste Special" for faster results
  • Pasting Values:

    When you need to remove formatting or formulas from copied data and only want to keep the numerical values, using "Paste Special" > "Values" can save you time and effort.
  • Transposing Data:

    If you need to switch the orientation of your data, instead of manually rearranging it, you can use "Paste Special" > "Transpose" to quickly achieve the desired layout.
  • Operations with Formulas:

    When you want to apply a specific mathematical operation to a range of cells, you can use "Paste Special" > "Operation" to perform the calculation without having to write out the formula for each cell.

Limiting the use of volatile functions

When it comes to optimizing the performance of your Excel spreadsheet, one crucial aspect to consider is the use of volatile functions. These functions can significantly impact the speed and efficiency of your Excel workbook, so it's essential to understand their implications and explore alternative options.

A. Explanation of volatile functions and their impact on performance

Volatile functions are Excel functions that recalculate whenever any change is made to the spreadsheet, regardless of whether the value it depends on has changed or not. This means that every time you make a change in the workbook, volatile functions recalculate, which can slow down the performance of your Excel file.

Common volatile functions include:

  • NOW
  • RAND

B. Alternative functions to use instead of volatile functions

Fortunately, there are alternative non-volatile functions that you can use to achieve the same results without sacrificing performance. Non-volatile functions only recalculate when the cells they depend on change, making them a better choice for improving the speed of your Excel workbook.

Some alternative functions to consider include:

  • INDEX/MATCH instead of VLOOKUP
  • INDIRECT instead of OFFSET
  • DATE instead of TODAY
  • CHOOSE instead of IF

Minimizing the use of complex formulas

When working with large datasets in Excel, the speed of calculations can be significantly impacted by the complexity of the formulas used. By minimizing the use of complex formulas, you can improve Excel's performance and make it work faster.

A. The impact of complex formulas on Excel's speed

Complex formulas involving nested functions, array formulas, and volatile functions can slow down the calculation process in Excel. These formulas require more computational power and can lead to longer wait times for calculations to complete.

B. Tips for simplifying complex formulas for faster calculations
  • Use helper columns

    Rather than cramming all the logic into a single cell, consider breaking down complex formulas into smaller, more manageable parts. Create helper columns to perform intermediate calculations, and then refer to the results in the final formula. This can make the overall calculation process more efficient.

  • Avoid volatile functions

    Volatile functions, such as NOW and RAND, recalculate every time a change is made to the worksheet, even if the change doesn't affect the function's result. Minimize the use of volatile functions, as they can slow down the overall performance of Excel.

  • Use array formulas sparingly

    While array formulas can be powerful, they are also resource-intensive. Limit the use of array formulas to only when necessary, and try to find alternative solutions that don't rely on array formulas for faster calculations.

  • Optimize VLOOKUP and INDEX/MATCH

    If you frequently use VLOOKUP or INDEX/MATCH formulas to retrieve data from large tables, consider optimizing these formulas for faster performance. Use the Approximate Match option in VLOOKUP when applicable, and ensure that the lookup ranges are properly defined to minimize the computational load.

  • Consider alternative functions

    Explore alternative functions that can achieve the same results with less computational overhead. For example, the SUMIF function may be faster than using a combination of SUM and IF functions in certain scenarios.


In conclusion, we have discussed several tips to make Excel work faster. These include optimizing formulas, reducing file size, using efficient shortcuts, and utilizing the power of pivot tables. By implementing these strategies, you can greatly improve the performance of Excel and enhance your overall productivity.

It is important to prioritize Excel performance as it directly impacts your efficiency and the quality of your work. By following these tips and consistently seeking ways to optimize your Excel usage, you can ensure smoother and faster operations, ultimately leading to better outcomes in your projects and tasks.

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