Microsoft Excel logo on a green background

To move around your workbook easier, find the content you need faster, and update basic properties in one spot, the Navigation pane in Microsoft Excel is a handy tool. Let’s take a look at how you can use it.

What Is the Navigation Pane?

Microsoft introduced the Navigation pane to provide a better Excel experience to those with disabilities, those using an unfamiliar workbook, and those who have tons of sheets in a workbook. The tool offers a way to quickly move to a sheet, chart, table, or object as well as a search to find exactly what you need in a flash.

Note: The Navigation pane is available to Office Insiders and will slowly roll out to Microsoft Excel on Windows users.

Show the Navigation Pane in Excel

To open the Navigation pane, head to the View tab and click “Navigation” in the Show section of the ribbon. You’ll then see the pane on the right side of the Excel window.

Use the Navigation Pane in Excel

As mentioned, the Navigation pane helps you move to a spot in your workbook, adjust some basics for your sheets and items, and find what you want in the workbook. Let’s delve into how this works.

Navigation

When you first open the Navigation pane, you’ll see all of the sheets in the workbook listed in order. Simply click a sheet name in the list to move directly to it in the workbook. If you select a sheet tab, you’ll also see the sheet name in bold font in the pane.

Sheet list in the Navigation pane

Advertisement

Each sheet in the list also has an arrow to the left allowing you to expand it. You’ll then see the various objects, tables, charts, and other items on the sheet. You can click an item to move directly to it on the sheet as well.

Expand a sheet in the pane

Actions

To rename, delete, or hide or show a sheet, both in the Navigation pane and in the workbook, right-click the sheet’s name in the pane. This gives you an easy way to take one of these actions on a spreadsheet.

Rename, delete, or hide a sheet

You can also adjust certain types of items on a sheet in the Navigation pane. For example, you can rename a table, hide a picture, or delete a chart. Expand the sheet containing the item and then right-click the item for the available actions.

Rename, delete, or hide a chart

Search

At the top of the Navigation pane is the Search box. This provides the fastest way to find what you need in your workbook. You can type “Table” to see where all of the tables are located or “Picture” to find all of the images that have been inserted.

Search for a table

When you finish using the Search box, click the “X” on the right to close it and return to the sheet list.

Handy Uses for the Navigation Pane

By using the Navigation pane, you can easily move between the spreadsheets you need. This eliminates using the scroll arrows or dots to move across the bottom of the Excel window to the sheet you want. But there are some other convenient ways to use the Navigation pane.

RELATED: How to Fix Arrow Key Scrolling in Excel

For instance, maybe you want to make sure you’ve given all of the charts in the workbook titles. Type “Chart” into the Search box and you’ll see each one listed along with its title. You can then click to visit those without titles or using the default “Chart Title” and give them those much-needed names.

Search for a chart

Advertisement

As another example, you may have inserted check boxes in your workbook but forgot to name them for backend references. You can type “Check Box” into the Search field to see them all listed. Then, right-click to rename each one directly in the Navigation pane without having to open the containing sheets.

Search for and rename check boxes

For an easier way to move around, find items, and take quick actions, check out the Navigation pane in Microsoft Excel for Windows.

RELATED: How to Insert a Checkbox in Microsoft Excel

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
Read Full Bio »