Chapter 2: Introducing the Excel Web App

Excerpt from Using Microsoft Excel 2010

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In August, 2010, Network World's Microsoft Subnet is giving away 15 copies of the book Using Microsoft Excel 2010. Here is an excerpt that introduced the Excel Web App.

Excerpt from Using Microsoft Excel 2010.

By Tracy Syrstad and Bill Jelen

Published by Que

ISBN-10: 0-7897-4290-X

ISBN-13: 978-0-7897-4290-2

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Chapter 2: Introducing the Excel Web App

This chapter shows you how to upload and download workbooks to and from the Windows SkyDrive.

This chapter will help you get started working on and sharing your Excel files online. For a more in-depth coverage of Microsoft Office Web Apps and using SkyDrive, refer to Using the Microsoft Office Web Apps (ISBN 0-7897-4486-4) by Paul McFedries.


You don’t need much to get started with the Excel Web App:

  • A current browser (minimum: Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla Firefox 3, or Safari 3)

  • A Windows Live ID

  • An Internet connection

With these three items, you can view your Excel workbooks anywhere in the world where you can access Windows Live.

Acquiring a Windows Live ID

With a Windows Live ID, you can access the Windows Live SkyDrive online storage where you can store, view, edit, and share your Excel workbooks.

Note - You don’t need a Windows Live ID if you are accessing someone else’s SkyDrive and it’s set up to not require a login. But if you want to upload your own files or access a SkyDrive requiring login, you will need a Windows Live ID.

Show Me  Media 2.1—Creating a Windows Live ID - You can watch a free video of this task when you log on to

Creating a Windows Live ID

A Windows Live ID enables you to log in to a variety of websites, such as Windows Live, Hotmail, and Xbox Live, using one account. If you already log into a Microsoft-owned site, it is possible you already have a Windows Live ID. You can create the account using an existing email address or obtain a new email address through the or domains, as shown in Figure 2.1. Follow these steps to create a Windows Live ID:

  1. User your browser to navigate to If you don’t see a webpage similar to the one in Figure 2.1, it’s possible you already have a Windows Live ID. In that case, you may see a page similar to Figure 2.2 with your login name in the upper-right corner. If that’s the case, you don’t need to create a Windows Live ID because you already have one.

  2. Figure 2.1 to create your Window Live ID account.

    Go to

  3. If you have an existing email address you want to use, type it into the Use Your E-Mail Address field, press the Tab key, and skip to step 6. Otherwise, click the Or Get a Windows Live E-Mail Address link to create a new email address and continue to step 3.

  4. In the Windows Live ID domain list drop-down, select the domain you want to have the address for ( or

  5. In the Windows Live ID text field, type the username you want.

  6. Click Check Availability to see if your username and domain combination is available.

  7. If Windows Live informs you that the ID isn’t available, repeat steps 3–5; otherwise, if the ID is available, continue to step 7.

  8. Type your password into the Create a Password field.

  9. Type the same password again into the Retype Password field.

  10. If you aren’t using an existing email address to create the Live ID account, tell Windows Live what you want to do in case you forget your password:

    • Use the Alternate E-Mail Address if you want Windows Live ID to email you password reset information. The email address must be different from your Windows Live ID.

    • Select the Or Choose a Security Question for Password Reset link if you want to verify your identity online. Select a predefined question from the Question list and enter the correct response in the Secret Answer field. The response must be at least five characters.

  11. Fill in the rest of the requested information: name, location, gender and birth year.

  12. In the Characters field, type the characters you see in the image.

  13. Click I Accept. Windows Live will create your new ID.

Uploading and Downloading Workbooks

You no longer have to remember to move those important files to a USB flash drive and have that flash drive with you. From almost anywhere in the world, you can handle your boss’s desperate call to fix the department budget numbers for his 11 a.m. presentation to corporate. All you need is a computer with access to the Internet. After you’ve logged into your Windows Live account, you can upload your own workbooks or create new ones for viewing, editing, and sharing.

Note - Only unprotected workbooks can be opened online.

Accessing the SkyDrive

You can sign into your Windows Live account from any site that supports the accounts, such as or, but to quickly get to your SkyDrive, go to After you’re signed in, you’re brought to your SkyDrive.

Note - If you don’t see your SkyDrive, select More, SkyDrive from the Windows Live page as shown in Figure 2.2.

Figure 2.2

Choose More, SkyDrive to access your SkyDrive from anywhere in Windows Live.

Uploading with Windows Live

You can upload a workbook viewable by just you, selected individuals, your network, or everyone. The folder where you place the workbook determines this viewing level. After it is uploaded, you can view, edit, and share the workbook.

Uploading a Workbook

Follow these steps to upload your workbook:

  1. Select the folder to which you want to add your workbook. Note that the Favorites and Shared Favorites folders aren’t used for file sharing, but for website shortcuts.

  2. Select Add Files, shown in Figure 2.3

  3. Figure 2.3

    Select Add Files to select files to upload to SkyDrive.

  4. Browse to the location of the file you want to upload and select it.

  5. Click Open.

  6. Click Upload to upload the file to your SkyDrive.

Saving to SkyDrive from Excel

Save a file from Excel directly to your SkyDrive by choosing File, Save & Send, Save to Web. Excel attempts to log you in automatically, but if it can’t, click the Sign In button, shown in Figure 2.4, to bring up the .NET Passport Wizard, which will take you through the steps to associate your Windows Live ID to your Windows User Account. After following the wizard the first time, you will always be linked to your SkyDrive.

Figure 2.4

Upload the active workbook to SkyDrive directly from Excel.

Tell MEMORE  Media 2.2—SkyDrive - You can listen to a free audio recording about the usefulness of SkyDrive, even if the computer you are at does not have Excel installed. When you log on to

Creating a New Workbook

You aren’t limited to workbooks created previously in Excel on your desktop. You can create a new workbook online and download it when you return to the office.

Creating a New Workbook

To create a new workbook on your SkyDrive, follow these steps:

  1. Click the folder you want the workbook in.

  2. Click New, Microsoft Excel Workbook (see Figure 2.5).

  3. Figure 2.5

    Create a new workbook directly online.

  4. Enter the name of the workbook and click Create. Windows Live automatically appends the file extension (xlsx) for you.

Opening a Workbook

When you select a folder, you’ll see all the workbooks in the folder. Select a workbook to see the available options.

When you select to View a workbook, it’s opened as a read-only file. Unlike read-only mode on the desktop version of Excel, where you can make changes and not save them to the original file, you cannot make changes while in View mode. You can only look at the workbook, as shown in Figure 2.6.

Figure 2.6

The View option opens a workbook in Read-only mode with a limited ribbon.

Select Edit to access the full Excel Web App functionality and make changes to a workbook, as shown in Figure 2.7. Changes are automatically saved as they are made.

Figure 2.7

Open a workbook using the Edit option to access all editing features.

Saving a File to Your Local Drive

Eventually, you will want to work on a workbook saved locally. This can be done in several ways:

  • Before you open the workbook, select Download from the menu.

  • While viewing or editing the workbook, select the File tab to reveal the following options (see Figure 2.8):

    • Open in Excel—Open the workbook locally in Excel.

    • Download a Snapshot—Download a copy of the workbook containing only its values, formatting, and charts.

    • Download a Copy—Download the entire workbook.

Figure 2.8

Options under the File menu allow you to download the file to work on locally.

Note - The options Save As and Save a Copy create an online copy of the workbook with a new name in the same folder as the original.

Sharing a Workbook

SkyDrive doesn’t just provide you with the convenience of being able to work with your workbooks wherever you are. It’s also set up to help you share your workbooks with other people.

Creating a New Folder

When you create an account, SkyDrive provides two folders for storing your documents: My Documents, a protected folder only you can access, and Public, a folder available to anyone. You cannot change the permissions of these two folders, but you can create new folders and set the permissions you want for them.

Creating a New Folder

To create a folder from your SkyDrive main page, follow these steps:

  1. Select Create Folder.

  2. Enter the name of the folder in the Name field

  3. Choose who you want to share the folder with: Everyone (Public), My Network, Just Me, Select People (see Figure 2.9).

  4. Figure 2.9

    When creating a new folder online, you can choose who you want to be able access it.

  5. Click Next, and you have the option of uploading new files or clicking Cancel to add files at a later time.

Setting Folder Permissions

When you created the preceding folder, Windows Live provided the basic permission settings. For the additional options shown in Figure 2.10, choose More, Edit Permissions while viewing the contents of a folder:

  • Public and Networks—Select Everyone (Public) and anyone can view the contents of the folder. Select My Network and you can choose between Can View Files if network members can only view your files or Can Add, Edit Details, and Delete Files to give members full permission to modify your folder contents. When you choose My Network, you can also select My Extended Network, allowing networks of your networks (friends of your friends) to View the contents of the folder.

  • Categories—A listing of the available categories. Select the category and choose Can View Files to allow members to only view files or choose Can Add, Edit Details, and Delete Files to give members full permission to modify your folder contents.

  • Individuals—Share the folder with select individuals. For each name or email address entered, you can choose to allow the individual to only view files (Can View Files) or give full access to the folder (Can Add, Edit Details, and Delete Files).

Figure 2.10

The Dept. Budget folder is conFigured to allow anyone to view the files, but people in the Excel People custom category can also edit details.

Simultaneous Editing

If you’re allowing others to edit your workbook, eventually you will be editing the workbook at the same time as another person. When you are the sole person editing the workbook, the text in the lower-right corner of your browser window reads 1 Person Editing. If other people are editing at the same time, the text will update to reflect the number of people.

To see who else is in the workbook with you, click the arrow and a window will open up, showing everyone in the workbook, including you, as shown in Figure 2.11.

Figure 2.11

You can see who else is editing the workbook with you.

Because changes to workbooks are automatically saved, you can see what the other person is doing almost right away. There is no hierarchy of permissions or way to verify changes, so another user can change your changes as quickly as you can make them.

Interacting with a Sheet Online

Even though the page in your browser looks a lot like the desktop version of Excel, it’s not. It’s still just a web page, and the navigation methods you’re used to from desktop Excel won’t work.

The following navigation methods do not work in the Excel Web App:

  • There’s no right-click context menu.

  • There’s no fill handle, so you can’t drag to fill in a series or copy formulas.

  • You can’t double-click to autofit rows or columns.

  • You can’t double-click a cell to edit it. You’ll have to make changes directly in the formula bar.

  • If you have data/text in one cell bleeding into the one next to it, you can’t select the other cell until you make the first column wide enough so it doesn’t overlap into the other column.

  • You can’t click and drag to move cells, rows, or columns.

The following methods still work in the Excel Web App:

  • Keyboard shortcuts

  • Adjusting the row and column widths manually

  • Dragging to select a range

  • Clicking row and column headings to select the entire row or column

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