Searching within Excel comments

By Kelly L. Williams, CPA, Ph.D.

Q. Is there a way to search for text that is contained within a hidden comment of an Excel spreadsheet?

A. You can search for text that is contained within comments, hidden or unhidden, of an Excel spreadsheet. I have created a workbook with comments added to the three lines of text. You can access the workbook here and accompanying video at the bottom of the page. Note that the content that follows is based on Microsoft Excel 365 for PCs. Other versions of Excel may work differently.

To hide Excel comments on your device, go to File, Options, Advanced. Scroll to the Display section and select No comments, notes, or indicators, as shown in the screenshot below. Click OK. All comments will now be hidden in all Excel workbooks. You can always change this to make the comments visible again.

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Now that all comments are hidden, click anywhere in the spreadsheet and press Ctrl+F (this is the shortcut for "find" on a PC), then type the word important next to Find what:, as shown in the screenshot below. Click Options and choose Comments next to Look in:. Click Find All to see the two comments that contain the word "important."

Note that you would follow these same instructions to search within comments that are not hidden.

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About the author

Kelly L. Williams, CPA, Ph.D., MBA, is an associate professor of accounting at the Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University.

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Do you have technology questions for this column? Or, after reading an answer, do you have a better solution? Send them to jofatech@aicpa.org. We regret being unable to individually answer all submitted questions.

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