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The Selection Pane



New to Excel 2007, unless JP corrects me, is the Picture Selection Pane.

This is a neat little tool which allows quick sorting and editing of the visibility of pictures and other objects on a worksheet. Those other objects includes Charts, Shapes, Word Art, Text Boxes, Pictures and other embedded objects.

Earlier this week on the Chandoo.org/Forums, Ankit asked a question about un-hiding pictures that seemed to disappear from his worksheet.

I responded with a little bit of VBA code which he was able to use to make all his pictures visible.

Sub unhide_pics()
  Set DrwObj = ActiveSheet.DrawingObjects
  For Each Pict In DrwObj
    Pict.Visible = True 'change to False to hide
End Sub

I later realized that had Ankir been using Excel 2007/10 he could have solved his problem without the need for any code.

How ?

Use the Selection Pane.

Goto a page with an object, hidden or not

Goto the Page Layout, Selection Pane tab.

What Can I Do ?

In the selection pane window you will see a list of objects that are on your worksheet. The list shows visible and non-visible (Hidden) objects.


Each Object has a small picture beside it showing either an Eye (Visible) or a Window (see through), this indicates the visible status.

Click on an eye to hide an object,

Click on a blank pane to unhide the object

Depth Order

The location of the objects in the list also shows the position in the Depth Field of the objects. That is Objects at the top of the list are in front of those objects below it in the list.

You can move objects up or down using the re-order buttons which moves objects closer to the front or rear of other objects.

Show All/Hide All

Click on the Show All/Hide All buttons to do exactly that.

Rename Objects

Click on the name of the object and type a new name

Advanced Use

Hold Ctrl and Click on several objects in the selection pane to add them to your selection

The selected objects are highlighted in the selection pane

Right click on the objects to Group/Ungroup them

Grouped Objects are shown in the selection Pane as a group

The group can be hidden/shown or individual members of the group can be hidden/shown


Cleanup Web Copy/Paste

If you have ever selected a large amount of text from a web site and pasted it into Excel, you will have inevitably collected several graphical objects along the way, some visible and some hidden

Use the selection Pane to select them all at once and press delete

Change Company Logos

You may have a report which you generate for differing companies

Install all the logos and Hide/Show as required.

Look for Missing Links

I have seen Excel workbooks where people have an external link and they cannot find it.

Links can be attached to Drawing Objects etc and these may be hidden.

The Selection Pane is a quick way to search for those objects without code

Let us know about your object handling problems and how you solved them in the comments below:

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10 Responses to “The Selection Pane”

  1. sam says:

    The selection pane is there in Excel from 2003
    Look at the below picture


    The in 2007 it has been further deprecated - The Select all and De select all buttons have been removed.
    If you have to select all objects - you have to rely on Ctrl+A and ESC to de-select

  2. Dave says:

    Hold the phone, I think we've found the Toolbar King!

    I'm sure there's one missing.....

  3. Tom says:

    Just to clarify - hiding an object doesn't remove it from the file. Therefore, I would be hesitant to have a bunch of hidden objects that are unneeded (such as other company logos) as they will result in larger file sizes. Please correct me if my assumption is wrong. It may not have a large impact, but cumulatively, it should be a concern I'd think.

  4. Tom says:

    Sorry - I forgot to thank you, Chandoo. I actually didn't know that this feature existed (I feel dumb!). I know that I rely on the chart "current selection" tool a lot as some items are very difficult to select manually using the mouse. I suspect there are many scenarios where the same is true of independent objects outside of charts.

  5. Bastien says:

    The "Select all objects" button isn't visible by default in pre-ribbon Excel "Drawing" toolbar.
    From what I can test this option was added first already 10 years ago, in Excel 2000.
    MS just made this option very hard to find for most users. Fortunately they have corrected that now.
    The following article from Nicholas Hebb show how to add this button and other useful options to the default drawing toolbar:

    To select all objects at once, you can also use the Go To dialog from Excel:
    F5 > Special > Objects

    Both of these select methods can't select invisible objects and I believe that the hide/unhide objects is only available since Excel 2007.
    In the Excel 2007/2010 taskpane you can't use Control+Shift to quickly select multiple objects, but once one is selected, you can press Control+A to quickly select all visible objects.

    In general I think that hiding objects should be avoided as much if possible. I've seen too many times that users complained that their workbook was slow, which was caused by hidden/invisible objects (which they didn't know about).

  6. gaurav rastogi says:

    This is amazing. I was wondering why my excel files have suddenly become so heavy in size and slow. Now i know the reason and the solution.
    Many Many Thanks Hui !

    Huiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii !

  7. Lynette says:

    Wow. Having just tried several different macros to display and rename shapes, it is a joy to find such a simple fix. Thanks

  8. Rick says:

    Suppose you wanted 10 company logos all sized correctly on top of one another and then all hidden. How would one us formulas to only show the relevent Picture with an If statement of somekind.
    is it possible?

  9. Phil Hinton says:

    Awesome as always, fellow Kiwi, but what I cannot find anywhere (probably not asking the right questions) is information on:
    1 How to rename a comment based on its contents (e.g. by VBA)
    2 How to use the Selection Pane to go to a comment (Find shows the contents of the cell that a comment is attached to, but does not show the comment contents.

    Any ideas?

    I do have code to put the comment's contents into an adjacent cell, but that's not what I'm currently after.

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