Improvements with Excel in 2017
Excel has gained many new features and improvements this year, with even better features announced for release next year. This year’s updates include better background removal of images, support for collaborative editing, and automatic file saving. The features added this year have helped to make Excel better for both collaboration and note-taking.
Better Background Removal
Excel 2016’s February update added better background removal. While the ability to remove the background of an image has existed since 2010, but this year’s updates have improved its capabilities drastically. Rather than cropping out the background using straight lines alone, users can now use a free-form select tool to better fit the borders of the desired object. Additionally, Excel automatically detects the general background to eliminate the need to draw a rectangle around the foreground.
The New “Dubai” Font
Microsoft has worked with the Executive Council of Dubai to create a new font with support for Arabic and Western European languages. In March, Excel and other Office products began to include Dubai alongside their other fonts. Designed with legibility in mind, the Dubai font is very easy to read.
Better Access for Subscripts and Superscripts
This addition is a minor one, but some users will find it quite useful. In June, the Quick Access bar received an option to include the superscript and subscript buttons. Users writing mathematical or chemical formulas will now be able to write their equations without constantly switching tabs.
Collaborative Cloud Editing
Teams can now work on the same Excel workbook at the same time. When “co-authoring”, users will see changes from other users within seconds, similar to how users can work on the same sheet in Google Sheets. After uploading your workbook to OneDrive, it becomes shareable with any number of users for easy collaboration.
Co-authoring also automatically enables AutoSave. As its name suggests, this long-awaited feature will periodically save your files to OneDrive. With this, the old advice of “save early, save often” is made redundant by automatic saves every few seconds. Co-authoring requires AutoSave, but Autosave can optionally be enabled for any file uploaded to OneDrive.
Excel 2013 was the first version to add support for drawing tools. These tools, supporting both mouse and touchscreen input, helped users take notes better by allowing for both visual and textual notes. Beginning with the June 2017 update, users are able to create a custom “pen set”, which synchronizes across all of your Windows devices. Additionally, the October update added a pencil texture for users that desire a more realistic note-taking experience.