Microsoft Excel has updated one of the spreadsheet’s oldest features

Devesh Beri

Microsoft Excel dark mode icon on iOS

Microsoft has rolled out updates to Excel’s manual calculation mode. It’s interesting to observe that this feature has existed since the era of VisiCalc in 1979, which was an impressive 6 years before the first release of Excel, which was released 38 years ago. In this mode, when changes are made to a cell, calculations are suspended in the cell and ones dependent on it until the spreadsheet is recalculated, leading to potentially outdated cell values.

The latest update introduces “Stale Value Formatting,” visibly striking through cells with stale values, helping users identify and avoid reliance on them until recalculated.

Updated Vs StaleThis feature isn’t confined to manual calculation mode; it adapts to automatic mode too. Interrupted calculations in automatic mode, for example when quitting a calculation by hitting Escape, can result in stale formatting.  A warning icon accompanies cells with stale values, providing a contextual menu for actions like recalculating or switching modes.

Stale Value Formatting is enabled by default but can be turned off through the Format Stale Values checkbox.

Disable Stale Value

This feature is currently only available in Excel’s Beta Channel for Windows and will be expanded to other platforms in the future.