Expand Spreadsheet’s Find and Replace to Include Entire Workbook


Q. The Find and Replace tool in Excel is very convenient. But it would be far better if it could search beyond the one worksheet I happen to be in. After all, I would guess that most workbooks CPAs use contain many sheets, so a search that encompasses an entire workbook would be very helpful. Is there some trick to accomplishing that?

A. It’s not so much a trick as simply adapting Excel’s Group feature—a tool of many uses. The idea is to gather the target worksheets into a custom “group.” Once you’ve gathered the worksheets, every command of Find and Replace affects each sheet in the group.

To create a group, open your workbook and select the sheets by holding down the Shift key and then clicking on each tab you want included. To include all the sheets, click the first sheet tab, hold down the Shift key and then click on the last tab.

Notice the tabs for the group of worksheets now have white backgrounds; the unselected remain colored. Now I’ll evoke Find and Replace from the Edit menu (shortcut: Ctrl-H) and search for the word hotel. In the screenshot below the screen shows all the selected tabs and invites you to meander through the choices under the same search command for the word hotel.

And, presto, the three sheets that contain the word are instantly identified.


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