Access 2016 Bible

They’re here.

Who wants one? Leave a comment on this post and I will select one lucky recipient at random. Leave your comment by midnight CST this Friday. And for you international types, I reserve the right to not spend a lot of money shipping this book, so you might be out even if you’re picked.

For the rest of you, you’ll have to pony up the dough for the “#2 in Books > Computers & Technology > Software > Databases” by clicking here:

Access 2016 Bible

Let’s get that to #1.

Filtering PivotTables with VBA? Deselect Slicers first!

I’m in the final stages of coding up a commercial add-in that gives you lot more filtering options for PivotTables at your fingertips than you get out of the box. Here’s how it looks, along with the PivotTable its connected to and a native Slicer for comparison:
Pre Invert

As you can see, it offers you a lot more tricks than a native Slicer – including a nifty ‘Invert Filter’ function. It also lets you see a lot more items displayed in it compared to a Slicer: 22 items are visible in mine, vs just 17 in the correspondingly sized Slicer. And that’s one of the many beefs I have with Slicers…they take up far too much screen real estate for the scant options they offer. In fact, my version takes up no screen real-estate most of the time: it launches simply by double-clicking the PivotTable field header, and you can dismiss it when you’re done to free up space if you want:
Slicer Dismissed
So about that Invert Filter function. I love clicking on that sucker over and over again. It takes about 7 seconds to invert my sample PivotTable that has 1000 items in it (12 items of which are selected in this example). That’s actually pretty fast as far as inverting a PivotTable, because you need to change the .visible status of all 1000 PivotItems, and as per a previous post that’s very slow to do unless you get tricky. And 7 seconds is a vast improvement on the method Microsoft gave you…none. I can’t comprehend why simple options like these are not built in to Slicers and Tables, but your filtering pain is (hopefully) my financial gain. (Yep, this works on Tables too.)

If I click that Invert Filter label, then here’s the after-effect:

Beautiful: 7 seconds, and she’s turned completely inside out. Unless that is, that Slicer happens to be selected. Then it takes a full minute. Why? No idea. Moral of the story: if you’re writing code to filter PivotTables, then you probably want to make sure any Slicers for that field are deselected first. Not disconnected…you can leave ‘em in place quite happily, and the code won’t suffer.

Anyways, that’s the first look at my new baby. It does a lot more than just this inverting trick, too. Among other tricks, it lets you filter PivotTables based on external ranges, and gives you some absolutely fantastic new tools for filtering PivotFields based on just about any tricky search conditions you might want to string together – but that’s a subject for my next post. temporarily offline

Hi everyone,

Due to a change in domain registrar my site is temporarily unavailable. I expect it to be back online within the next couple of hours.


Jan Karel Pieterse

Structured Table Referencing and VLOOKUP

Way back when, I wrote a post about naming columns that turned into a post about VLOOKUPs and MATCHes using structured table references. As usual, there was gold in them there comments. Since then I’ve been using the COLUMN() function in my VLOOKUP formulas to identify the return column. Like this:


This has the restriction that your table start in A1. Mine do. One table per worksheet and it starts in A1. This has been working well for me, but I’m sick of typing the COLUMN part. So I made a macro and here it is.

Private Sub mxlApp_SheetChange(ByVal sh As Object, ByVal Target As Range)
    Dim vaSplit As Variant
    If Target.CountLarge = 1 Then
        If Target.HasFormula Then
            Application.EnableEvents = False
                If IsTableVlookup(Target.Formula) Then
                    vaSplit = Split(Target.Formula, ",")
                    vaSplit(2) = "COLUMN(" & vaSplit(1) & "[" & vaSplit(2) & "])"
                    Target.Formula = Join(vaSplit, ",")
                End If
            Application.EnableEvents = True
        End If
    End If
End Sub

Private Function IsTableVlookup(ByVal sFormula As String) As Boolean
    Dim vaSplit As Variant
    Dim bReturn As Boolean
    Const sVL As String = "=VLOOKUP"
    Const sTBL As String = "tbl"
    On Error Resume Next
        vaSplit = Split(sFormula, ",")
        bReturn = Left$(sFormula, Len(sVL)) = sVL
        bReturn = bReturn And Left$(vaSplit(1), Len(sTBL)) = sTBL
        bReturn = bReturn And (vaSplit(3) = "TRUE)" Or vaSplit(3) = "FALSE)")
        bReturn = bReturn And InStr(1, vaSplit(2), "COLUMN(") = 0
        IsTableVlookup = bReturn
End Function

The IsTableVlookup function needs a little help. I just kept adding conditions as I tested it (and broke it), but I should probably just rethink the whole thing. Or maybe not, we’ll see. With this little gem in my custom class that handles application events, I can type


and it will insert the COLUMN part for me. I could even modify it for tables that don’t start in A1 by subtracting the COLUMN of the first column. The function also assumes you prefix all of your tables with “tbl”. You can change to suit. If you don’t use a naming convention, then I guess you’ll have to loop through all the tables and see if it matches one.

In an effort to be more like Debra, I made a video. As with every video I record with CamStudio, the first few seconds are blurry. I don’t know why.

Excel User Voice and Workbook Calculate

Excel User Voice

At the recent Excel Global Summit the Excel team were keen to explain how they have started using Excel User Voice to ask for and prioritise product improvement suggestions.

There are 2 important things to note about this:

  1. The Excel Dev Team actually read your suggestions on User Voice!
  2. Starting with Excel 2016 the development and ship cycle is much much faster than the traditional 3 years.

So it really is worthwhile making your suggestions to improve the product.
You get 10 votes on suggestions, and the suggestions are categorised by end-point and product area. So if you want to make a performance suggestion for Excel on Android phones you can focus down, see what other suggestions have been made in this area, and either cast a vote for an existing suggestion or make a new suggestion.

Workbook Calculate

To try this out I made a suggestion (about calculation of course).

At the moment from the UI you can either calculate all open workbooks (F9 or Automatic) or a worksheet (Shift F9).
From VBA you can also calculate a range (Range.Calculate and Range.CalculateRowMajorOrder).

But you cannot calculate a single workbook.

This is really annoying when you have 2 versions of a large slow workbook open, or you have a small rapidly changing workbook open that links to a large mostly static workbook.

My suggestion is to add an additional calculation setting: Calculate Active Workbook Only and from VBA Workbook.Calculate.

So please vote for my suggestion if you think it’s a good idea!

Using Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows Explorer

This content is reposted from with the permission of the author.

In support of International Keyboard Shortcut day, I want to increase everyone’s productivity in using Windows Explorer.

Now I must add that one of the best productivity steps you can make is not to use Windows Explorer! I use Total Commander for most of my file management duties, and there are several (hundred) good reasons why I do. But having said that, if you work on Windows, you cannot really escape Windows Explorer completely, as it is the native file management tool, so most programs, when opening or saving files, simply make use of Windows Explorer for that file management portion. So even if you are working in Word or Excel or a multitude of other programs, when you open or save a file, you are actually using Windows Explorer for that action. And, I have found that some these basic principles described below, with a little creativity, can also be used when doing file management on a Mac (although I am not showing that in this post).

Thus, learning to use Windows Explorer effectively will prove to be a big boost to your productivity (just think how many times you browse to open or save a file each day, and the gains will be readily apparent).

To distinguish between these contexts I will speak, below, of working in Windows Explorer or of working in File Management (some of the shortcuts only work in one of those contexts, or work differently between the two).

I will also not cover “standard” keyboard techniques, like using Tab to move between parts of the window, pressing Enter as the default action, selecting items (files/folders, in this instance) using Ctrl or Shift in combination with the mouse, etc.

One last note. These are specifically for Windows Explorer, meaning they will work for Windows 7, most of them will work for Vista, and a smaller subset will also work for Windows XP. Having said that, apart from the ribbon addition with its own set of navigation tools, most of these functions will also work with File Explorer (i.e., Windows 8 or Windows 10), although I might miss something new from those over here.

Just to help with the explanations below, Figure 1 shows my names for the various parts of the interface, so that you know what I am referring to.

Figure 1 Windows Explorer Interface

Getting there

Charity begins at home, they say. So keyboard shortcuts should start with actually accessing the tools. For many programs (including all the Office programs), these keyboard shortcuts will get you started:

Listing 1 Shortcuts for Opening or Accessing Windows Explorer

File Save As dialog (from most applications)

Ctrl + O
File Open dialog (from most applications)

Win + E
Open Windows Explorer application

The basics

Like most Microsoft programs (I hate working in programs where the developers have not included a good stable of keyboard shortcuts), the Windows Explorer interface comes with a good set of keyboard shortcuts, only they are perhaps less easy to discover than the more traditional interfaces.


Listing 2 Shortcuts for Working with the Windows Explorer Interface

Alt + D or F4
Select Folder Address box (Alt + D selects the entry in the box, F4 selects the box and shows a history of previous entries)

Ctrl + F or F3 or Ctrl + E
Select Search box

Refresh the current window

F6 or Tab
Moves among panes in Windows Explorer (Adding Shift reverses the direction)

Alt + P
Toggle the preview pane (one of my favourite “hidden” shortcuts)

Ctrl + Scroll
Switch between views (e.g., List, Details, Small/Medium/Large/Extra Large icons). (I wish there were a keyboard only version of this, so if you know of one, enlighten me. I find the scroll functionality on this particular tool a bit fiddly).

Cancel in Windows File Management

Ctrl + N
Opens a new window in Windows Explorer

Ctrl + W
Closes the current window in Windows Explorer

Toggle full screen view—can also be done using standard Windows 7 navigation tools, ÿ+Up Arrow for full screen (maximize), or ÿ+Down Arrow for normal size (restore)


Listing 3 Shortcuts for File and Folder Management

Ctrl + Shift + N
Create new folder


Delete selected files or folders (to recycle bin)

Shift + Del
Delete selected files or folders (semi) permanently

Alt + Enter
Open Properties dialog for selected item

Ctrl + Click
Selects multiple individual items

Ctrl + Click and drag with mouse
Copy the item (Windows appends ” – copy” to the file or folder name)

Ctrl + Shift + Click and drag with mouse
Create a shortcut (*.lnk) for the selected item (Windows appends ” – shortcut” to the file or folder name)


Listing 4 Shortcuts for Windows Explorer Navigation

Alt + Right Arrow
Follow breadcrumbs forward

Alt + Left Arrow
Follow breadcrumbs backward

Alt + Up Arrow
Moves up one folder level in Windows Explorer

Displays the previous folder in Windows Explorer (i.e., same as Alt + Up Arrow).
Moves up one folder level in Windows File Management

A short explanation of the breadcrumbs is in order. As you navigate through your various folders, Windows Explorer maintains a list of all the locations you visited. These locations are not always in linear succession (i.e., in a succession of child- or parent folders). For example, if you are in a certain sub-sub-sub-sub-folder of an external drive, and you click on one of the shortcuts in the Favorites section of the Windows Explorer folder pane (don’t forget these, they represent one place where the mouse can save you a lot of time, although they can be accessed in about the same amount of time with the keyboard shortcuts already shown). This move will have taken you to a different folder on a different drive. You can click on the Back button (rather press Alt + Left Arrow) to go back to that sub-sub-sub-sub-folder of your external drive). And having done that, you can click Forward (rather press Alt + Right Arrow) to go back once more to Documents. Pressing F4 (not Alt + D will show you the complete list of your previous locations, and you can move up and down that list with the Up Arrow and Down Arrow arrows, and press Enter to select the location of your choice.

Folder pane

These shortcuts work only in the folder pane on the left of the file browser window:

Listing 5 Windows Explorer Folder Pane Shortcuts

Right Arrow
Expands the subfolders of the currently selected folder or goes to the first child if already expanded

Numeric Keypad +
Expands the subfolders of the currently selected folder

Numeric Keypad *
Expands everything under the currently selected folder (don’t do this on C:\)!

Left Arrow
Collapses the subfolders of the currently selected folder or goes to the parent if already collapsed

Numeric Keypad –
Collapses the subfolders of the currently selected folder

Ctrl + Shift + E
Expands the Navigation pane to the folder in which the selected item is found.

More advanced bits

Remember that if you have clicked in the file list of Windows Explorer, you can easily jump to certain files by typing the first letters of a name (you have to type reasonably quickly). So, for example, in Figure 1 I can get to the WordPress folder (and bypass the Word folder) by typing “wordp.” Also, if I wanted to move through the various folders starting with a “c,” I could just press “c” repeatedly with a short break in between.

Figure 2 Selecting an item by typing its name

Then, of course, one of my personal favourites, is typing the destination I want to get it, instead of browsing by a series of mouse clicks. This relies on using the file syntax that derives pretty much all the way from MS-DOS. The first thing you need to know is that you can specify lower-level folders by typing their names. You specify (see below) higher level folders with “..\” and the root with only “\” (all sans the quotes, obviously). You can introduce a succession of lower-level folders by typing the folder names, separated by “\” (again sans quotes).

Listing 6 Text Entries Used for Specifying Higher-Level Folders

Move one folder up (can be combined x number of times for x number of levels).

In Windows Explorer, takes you to the root of the main drive.
In Windows File Management, takes you to the root of the current drive.

Specifies folder ccc which is a subfolder of bbb, which is itself a subfolder of aaa, which is itself a subfolder of the current folder.

The best way to demonstrate the power of this technique is with a short video. I am saving a page from the Daily Dose of Excel blog by printing it as a pdf from Chrome. This is relevant for a tool that I am developing, and so I want to keep this, and look at it when I work on this tool. I obviously have to indicate where the pdf must be saved. I last saved a pdf in another folder two levels down in the Documents folder, so I first have to move two levels up (which I do by typing “..\..\”), and then down to “Computer Training\Excel\Tips – Excel\Macros\.” This is a lot of scrolling and clicking with the mouse. However, note that as I type the address into the file name box, Windows Explorer gives me all folder and files that match what I have typed. I then use this to select the folders I want in a fraction of the time it would take to do with the mouse (on an unrepresentative sample of one trial, 13s with the keyboard vs 20s with the mouse, for a 35% increase in efficiency!). Also note that by typing the folder names, I “lose” the file name, but Windows Explorer “remembers” it, so that when I eventually reach the folder I am aiming for, the name is given back (I can, of course, then type a different name if I want).

Video 1 Using typing to select a folder or file

One last tip. Sometimes, I have to “load” a file to a certain program. As one example: When I using the Spreadsheet Compare tool to compare two workbooks. I already have Windows Explorer open at the location where the file is (actually, I can do this trick much quicker in Total Commander, but this blog post is about Windows Explorer). In my program (e.g., Spreadsheet Compare) I have to click on the browse button and this opens the Windows Explorer file browser at a predefined location—e.g., a default location like “Documents” or the last used location, neither of which is what I want. But I can copy the address of the location for my file (in Total Commander I can copy the file name with its location, which means I often do not even have to click on Browse). I do this either by clicking in the Windows Explorer Folder Address box and copying the full location there (see Figure 3), or I can, of course, eschew the mouse and do it all with Alt + D, Ctrl + C, Esc (and I’m done before you even had a chance to see what I’m doing!). [As a side note, F4 doesn’t work as well as Alt + D for this one.] Now I can paste the location into the Spreadsheet Compare file browser (of course, I jumped there from Windows Explorer with Alt + Tab), press Enter, and jump straight to the location where the file is. Better yet, I can type “\” and start typing the file name, and Windows Explorer will give me the names that match—even quicker!

Figure 3 Selecting a folder address from the Address box

One last trick. You can also apply filters in the file name box. So, for example, in Figure 4 I want to see only the Excel files, not all the other files, so I type *.xlsx and press Enter. This will filter the display and show me only Excel (and only xlsx Excel) files.

Figure 4 Applying a filter in the file name box

Listbox bulk refresh won’t redraw if called by Listbox click.

I’ve been playing around with ListBoxes recently. Or more to the point, they’ve been playing around with me. After much staring and swearing, I’ve found that you can’t get a ListBox to repaint itself when feeding it an entire list in one go in response to a Listbox_Click event in that same ListBox. It does however repaint correctly if you run the exact same code from somewhere else…say a CommandButton-initiated action.

By new list, I’m talking about populating the ListBox with an array via the Listbox.list=SomeArray approach. The .AddItem method works fine. So there’s always that: you can simply remove all items one by one, then add all the new items one by one. But that’s really slow: on my laptop it takes something like 15 seconds to add 10,000 items to that listbox. And it gets slower the more you add. And you can probably double that, if you need to replace each and every one of those items with something else. Whereas the Listbox.list=SomeArray approach takes less than a second to add ten times as many items. It’s fast.

So why would you want to add tens of thousands of items to a ListBox? And why would you want to perform a wholesale update that list by clicking in the Listbox itself? Here’s why: I’m designing a UserForm to help filter PivotTables. It’s a cross between the existing Pivot Filter functionality and a Slicer. Here’s what you see if you double-click on a PivotField header:
Initial State
Note the Search field at the top, and the three buttons immediately below that search field. If you type something into that field, then instead of displaying everything that’s currently filtered, you instead get a list of any matches, and you can then apply those search results to the underlying PivotTable via those three CommandButtons. The first cb simply filters the PivotTable to reflect the search, and the other two let you add or remove any search result from an existing filter. (The native filter lets you add, but not remove).

I want to do away with those three command buttons, and instead (in the event that a search is performed) simply list those three options at the top of the ListBox above any search results returned. Clicking on those three options will then trigger the exact same code as currently triggered by the Command Button.

Here’s how that looks currently if I actually type something in that Search box (Note I haven’t yet removed the three command buttons this new functionality will make redundant from that Search frame):
test search

I’ve added a simple bit of code to the lbResults_Change() event handler that checks if a user clicks any of those first three options. All that code does is trigger the exact same routines as would be triggered if they’d simply clicked on the actual command buttons themselves:

For i = 0 To 4
    If Me.lbResults.Selected(i) Then Exit For
Next i
Select Case i
    Case 0: cmdApplySearch_Click
    Case 1: cmdAddToFilter_Click
    Case 2: cmdSubtractFromFilter_Click
    Case 3: Me.lbResults.Selected(3) = False
End Select

The listbox gets updated just fine if I click on the command buttons, as you can see from the below. The Pivot has been filtered accordingly, and those contextual search options have been removed from the top of the listbox (and the search field cleared):
CB press
But watch what happens if I trigger the exact same code by clicking that first option in the ListBox itself:
As you can see from the above screenshot, it still shows those three options at the top, even though they are NOT in the array that I assigned to the listbox, as evidenced by the screenshot below:
The Listbox DID get updated, mind:
? .ListCount 3
? .List(0) 263213: ICT Systems Test Engineer
? .List(1) 263299: ICT Support and Test Engineers nec
? .List(2) 839313: Product Tester

…It just didn’t get redrawn. And it won’t get redrawn unless I refill the ListBox via one of those CommandButtons I’m trying to do away with. And it doesn’t seem to matter if I set the focus to the CommandButton before I try to refresh the Listbox, or even clear the ListBox entirely before I try to refresh it.

You can see this behavior for yourself in this sample file I’ve prepared.

When the userform opens, you’ll see this:
Clicking the CommandButton correctly loads a new array into the ListBox (and increases the size of the ListBox accordingly):
…but if you click in the ListBox itself – which triggers the exact same code – then while you’ll see that the ListBox got expanded, it did not get redrawn:
Just as weird: you can see that the ListBox got expanded by two lines. That’s because the ListBox_Click event got executed twice…even though I have the requisite event suppression code in place (and I’m not talking about application.enable events here, because that doesn’t work for UserForm events). Putting a breakpoint in the code also shows that the 2nd time it runs occurs immediately after the previous run finishes, and not as a response to the .list = SomeList bit that normally triggers such repeat runs.

And if I now click that CommandButton, you can see that the missing numbers from the double ListBox_Click pass are in fact there, as well as the extra addition from the latest CommandButton_Click:
If I click that Use .AddItem Approach radio button and then click in the ListBox, things go according to plan:
So there’s always that approach. But that approach sucks. Maybe I’ll be forced to keep those CommandButtons in the UserForm after all. Anyone else experience this issue, or have a workaround up their sleeve?

International Keyboard Shortcut Day 2015

It’s the first Wednesday in November and you know what that means. It’s International Keyboard Shortcut Day. The day when people from all over the world become far less efficient in an effort to be more efficient the rest of the year.

IKSD was started way back in 2014 by me. There are currently zero countries that recognize this day, but that means we have only way to go: up.

How it Works

For one hour today, you commit to using a keyboard shortcut. For the particular operation you choose, you don’t use the mouse for that whole hour. Every time you reach for the mouse to perform your chosen task, you stop, return to the keyboard, and use the keyboard to do the thing. Then give your self a chocolate or some other reward.

Let’s say the keyboard shortcut you choose is Win+E to open a Windows Explorer window (that means hold down the Windows key and press E). If you find yourself reaching for the mouse to click on the little folder icon in your task bar, you stop. Return your hands to the keyboard and press the press Win+E. Congratulate yourself and have a treat.

If you don’t catch yourself and you actually click on the folder icon, close the folder, return to the keyboard and use the shortcut. IKSD isn’t about being more efficient today, it’s about being more efficient every other day of the rest of your life.

What to Choose

There are several degrees of participation.

  1. Pick one shortcut. Maybe Ctrl+O to open a file. Maybe Ctrl+S to save a file. Maybe both. If you accidentally open a file with your mouse, close it and reopen it with the keyboard.
  2. Pick a category. I suggest Navigation as I think it reaps the greatest benefits.
    • Use Alt+Tab to switch between programs.
    • Use Ctrl+Tab to switch between workbooks (go ahead and try Ctrl+Tab in applications other than Excel).
    • Use Win+1 (or 2, 3, 4, etc) to launch programs from your taskbar.
    • Use Win+{text} where {text} is the start of the name of a program you want to launch. I use Win+file to narrow the start menu and choose FileZilla whenever I need to FTP something (see image below).
  3. Move your mouse. Place your mouse on the left side of your keyboard (lefty’s, you know what to do) and only use the mouse with your non-dominant hand. It’s excruciating, but there’s no better way to learn the value of home row.

One hour for one day. Anybody can do that.

What the Hell is Wrong with You?

Several years ago I got tendinitis in my elbow. Some say it was caused by playing golf three times a week with a pretty poor swing. But I think it was a sign from the universe. My doctor told me to move my mouse to the other side of my keyboard. I did it. It sucked. I learned so many keyboard shortcuts just so I wouldn’t have to try to manipulate my mouse with the uncoordinated meat hook on the end of my left arm. And I was converted. Now my mouse lives most of the year on the left side (I switch it back for a few months in the Winter) and my hands only leave the keys when it’s more efficient to do so. I use my mouse several hundred times a day, but only when it’s more efficient.

Enjoy IKSD and leave a comment with how you celebrated. I’ll have a couple more keyboard-oriented posts this week, because here at IKSD headquarters, the party never stops.