Excel Watch Window

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How to use the Excel watch window to see what is happening in key cells as you make changes to your spreadsheet.

Excel Watch Window for viewing cells

In this example we have a spreadsheet that has been built over two sheets. One sheet containing the inputs, and another sheet containing some calculations and the results. And on this sheet we have two cells which are very important to us, being this cell the IRR cell and this cell which is the Net Present Value cell.

We’d like to see what happens to these cells when changes are made to the input cells, but its always a bit tedious to jump between the sheet. So what you can use is the Excel WATCH WINDOW

  • click on the sheet where the important cells are and you’ll see they are here,
  • and if we highlight both of them using the control key
  • and we go to Tools
  • Formula Auditing
  • you’ll see here it says Show Watch Window
  • and this table comes up
  • and you’ll see you’ve got the ability to add a watch and delete a watch,
  • if I click Add a watch,
  • what it does is it looks at the cells I’ve highlighted and says do you want to look at those two, and in this case well say that’s fine
  • and we’ll say Add,
  • what it does is it puts in the basic information around those cells

So for example it tells you

  • the workbook
  • it tells you the sheet
  • it’ll tells you a name and I’ll explain that later
  • the cells
  • the value involved
  • and what’s in the formula.

Now when we go back to the input sheet you’ll see

  • the WATCH WINDOW stays there
  • so now I can come here and say what happens if I change this to 80 000
  • and before I push enter just look at what happens to these values here
  • when I push enter
  • you’ll see the numbers change to reflect the change
  • and lets change the interest rate to 10%
  • and again you’ll see the value shown without me having to go and look at it

If you want to add more cells to the WATCH WINDOW it’s simply a case of

  • clicking on the cell you want
  • go Add Watch
  • and it’ll pop up
  • and you can say Add
  • and it’ll be included
  • alternatively if you’re tired of looking at one of the results you click on it
  • and click Delete Watch
  • and it’ll be removed,

If you want a name to appear here that describes the cell you’re looking at, it’s simply a case of naming the cells. So for example

  • if I click here which is the Resultant Repayment
  • and I go up here and I give it a name and we’ll call it Repayment
  • when I push enter
  • you’ll see the name appears here,
  • you can make it a bit bigger so at least you can see what you’re looking at
  • so for example if we go to example 2 we can see B33
  • I know that I want to be NPV go here put a name NPV
  • and I push enter
  • it appears here and

It makes it a lot easier to understand what values we are looking at