Excel has an annoying habit of making the current selection invisible when it becomes inactive - including the "focused cell" rectangle. When I try to process a spreadsheet in a certain way I may put it on a secondary monitor and highlight the stuff I'm working with, but the moment I switch to another program (on the primary screen) I can no longer see where I was.

It must have made sense 10 years ago before lots of people had multiple monitors, but now it's just an annoyance. A quick google doesn't find anything at all on this.


I have been annoyed by this for years. I've never found a solution within Excel. Is it an option to open your spreadsheet (at least for reading, if not editing) in OpenOffice.org Calc? It doesn't suffer the same problem.

  • I suppose I could... but it's too much trouble just for this. I end up making the cell(s) bold and hoping it's "visible enough". – RomanSt Jan 25 '10 at 22:18
  • At any given time I typically have both installed anyway, so (for me at least) it's not any extra trouble. – JMD Jan 25 '10 at 22:41

Agree that this an annoyance. One option is a row highlighting add-in. I like Chip Pearsons


Maybe overkill, but it's something.

  • The "known issues" are quite severe... – RomanSt Jan 25 '10 at 23:15

I found the answer to almost the same question at How to keep selected text highlighted when focus changes in Microsoft Word/Excel to work best and simplest for me:

Just copy the selected cells, this circles the selection perimeter, which remains even when changing the focus to another application. The main weakness with this solution is that if you copy anything else to the clipboard, the perimeter dotted line goes away in Excel. But for the simplicity and effectiveness, just pressing Ctrl-C before changing focus has become my default solution to this problem. I'll highlight cells if I need a more robust solution, but then I need to remember to Undo in Excel before doing more work there.

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