In August 2021, Microsoft Excel released the much-needed smooth scrolling feature.
The feature allows you to use the mouse’s scroll wheel or the program’s scroll bars to scroll one line vertically at a time or one character horizontally in an Excel worksheet.
What Improvement Does Smooth Scrolling Brings?
Before the smooth scrolling was released, when you used the scroll bar to move horizontally or vertically, it would move one row or column at a time.
This is an issue when you have a column or row that is long and doesn’t fit in the single screen size. In such as case, when you scroll, it will snap to the grid and take you to the next column (but it will not allow you to scroll smoothly within the same column).
I have been frustrated with this in many situations, and I often wish this to be corrected.
Now it has been.
The smooth scrolling feature is handy, especially when you need to view all the data in a worksheet with large cells without snapping to the grid.
Smooth scrolling allows you to scroll smoothly and precisely using the scrollbars or mouse wheel. You can stop partway through a column or row, and Excel won’t force you to move further than you intend.
Smooth scrolling provides a better user experience, feeling more natural and intuitive than traditional scrolling.
Note: Smooth scrolling is now the default way of scrolling in newer versions of Excel, and you need not enable any setting in Excel to use the feature.
However, if you still want to snap to the row and column edges, click the scroll bar arrow buttons or use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move focus until the worksheet scrolls to the position you want it.
The Frustration Before Smooth Scrolling Feature in Excel
Before the release of the smooth scrolling feature, Excel had a “snap to grid when scrolling” feature that caused the worksheet to move in predefined increments when you scroll using the mouse wheel or scroll bars.
In traditional scrolling, the “snap to grid when scrolling” meant that the worksheet would jump to the nearest gridline as you scroll rather than continuously scrolling.
For example, if you had the following large cell A1 in your worksheet,
If you tried to scroll down the cell to the fifth line of the text, the worksheet would move to the next cell, A2, rather than stop at the fifth line in cell A1.
Additionally, if you tried to scroll horizontally to the middle of the cell, the worksheet would move to the next cell, B1, instead of stopping in the middle of cell A1.
Using Smooth Scrolling to Scroll Vertically
With the smooth scrolling feature, you can use the mouse scroll wheel or Excel’s vertical scroll bar to move one line vertically at a time.
Let’s consider the following large cell A1 containing a paragraph of text:
We can use the mouse scroll wheel or Excel’s vertical scroll bar to move to, for example, the fifth line in the text as depicted below:
Earlier, without smooth scrolling, it would have taken you to the second row, robbing you of the ability to scroll and view the remaining text in the row.
Use Smooth Scrolling to Scroll Horizontally
With the smooth scrolling feature, you can use the mouse scroll wheel or Excel’s horizontal scrollbar to move one character horizontally at a time.
Suppose you have the following cell A1 with text extending beyond the screen:
We can use Excel’s horizontal scrollbar to move to the middle of the cell, as shown below:
Alternatively, instead of using the horizontal scrollbar, you can press and hold down Ctrl + Shift and use the mouse scroll wheel to scroll horizontally.
Benefits of Smooth Scrolling
The benefits of smooth scrolling in Excel include the following:
- Improved navigation: Smooth scrolling makes navigating through large amounts of data in a worksheet easier, as you can move quickly and seamlessly without losing your place.
- Reduced eye strain: Traditional scrolling can be choppy and jarring, which can cause eye strain and make it difficult to focus on the data. Smooth scrolling makes the movement more fluid and easier on the eyes.
- Increased productivity: By making it easier to navigate and view data, smooth scrolling can increase productivity because you spend less time searching for information or adjusting your view of the worksheet.
- Enhanced presentation: When presenting data to others, smooth scrolling can help keep the audience’s attention focused on the relevant information without any abrupt jumps or jerky movements.
Improving Traditional Scrolling
You cannot access the smooth scrolling feature if you use an older version of Excel that is previous to Excel 365.
However, you can apply the following workarounds to enhance your scrolling experience:
Method #1: Adjust the Column Width
If you have large columns extending beyond the screen, adjust the width.
Suppose you have the following column that extends beyond the screen in your worksheet:
You can adjust the width of the column using the below steps:
- Select the column by clicking its letter header.
- Right-click the selection and choose Column Width on the shortcut menu that appears:
- On the Column With dialog box, type a value that will make the right edge of the column come into view on your screen and click OK.
The whole column width comes into view on the screen, and you see all the data.
Once the column is in view, you can manually resize the column further as needed by dragging the right edge of the column letter header.
Also read: Set Excel Column Width in Inches
Method #2: Adjust the Row Height
If you have large rows extending beyond the screen, adjust the height.
Suppose you have the following row that extends beyond the screen in your worksheet:
You can adjust the height of the row using the following steps:
- Select the entire row by clicking its number header.
- Right-click the selection and choose Row Height on the shortcut menu that appears:
- On the Row Height dialog box, type a figure that will make the bottom edge of the row come into view on the screen and click OK.
The bottom edge of the row comes into view, and you can see the entire contents of the cell:
Now that the entire cell is in view, you can manually adjust its row height as needed by dragging the bottom edge of the row number header.
Note: If you cannot view the entire data in the cell, you may need to expand the column width of the cell by dragging the right border of its letter header.
Method #3: Zoom Out and Zoom In
If you have a worksheet with large cells, you can zoom out to make the worksheet appear smaller, adjust the column width or row height as needed, and then zoom in to the original size.
Some of the ways to zoom out and zoom in in Excel are the following:
- You can use the zoom slider in the lower right corner of the Excel window to zoom in or out. Drag the slider to the right to zoom in or to the left to zoom out.
Alternatively, you can click the minus button on the slider’s left to zoom out and click the plus button on the right to zoom in.
- You can also press Ctrl + Scroll Wheel to adjust the zoom level.
Also read: How to Turn OFF Scroll Lock In Excel?
Frequently Asked Questions about Smooth Scrolling in Excel
Here are some frequently asked questions about smooth scrolling in Excel that can help you troubleshoot and improve your scrolling experience.
Why is My Excel not Scrolling Smoothly?
One common issue is that Excel automatically snaps to the grid as you scroll, making it difficult to view all the data.
If this is happening with your Excel files, it means that you are on an older version, and your Excel version does not have the smooth scrolling feature in it. The only way to get it would be to upgrade to the latest version of Excel.
How Do I Turn OFF Smooth Scrolling in Excel?
If you already have smooth scrolling, there is no way to turn it off.
It now comes baked in with the newer versions of Excel, and if you have it, there is no way to get back to the snap-to-grid scrolling that was available in the older versions.
This tutorial has explained that smooth scrolling enables us to scroll between a column width and row height.
Additionally, the tutorial described some techniques to improve the scrolling experience for those using older versions of Excel that do not have the smooth scrolling feature.
We hope you found the tutorial helpful.
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