The Excel Camera Tool, Part 2

Create a Dashboard Using Camera Tool

We saw in Part 1 how to add the Camera tool to the Quick Access toolbar and how to use it for capturing linked pictures that automatically update when the source data is changed.

Another great use for the Camera tool is to create dashboards. The pasted objects can be sized proportionately and positioned anywhere on a worksheet. Here’s an example of sales figures and a chart:

Dashboard Example

This can contain as many objects as you choose. Note that the location of the original data is displayed in the Formula Bar.

Arranging as images on a worksheet in a dashboard-like mode is also a great fix for printing all your related information on one page. If you had selected all your original data separately, even from the same worksheet, the Add to Print command would have to be used which would automatically print each addition on a separate page. This way, you can add images, move, size and print at will.

The Camera tool captures everything as an image, including values, color formatting, shapes, even the gridlines. Because it is an image, the Picture Tools | Format tab is displayed on the ribbon so anything you can do to a picture, you can do here, including sizing and rotating. Use the right click menu to quickly perform commands such as Crop:

Moving Original Data

The Formula bar displays the path of the original data and the cell references are absolute by default. This is terrific because if the original data gets moved to another area, your pasted pictures reflect that, and continue to display any updates. Should be automatic but be sure that the workbook name (if different) and worksheet name display as well as cell references. If your workbook and worksheet are named, could look like this:

The Paste Special Option

The Paste Special Linked Picture option is available in Excel versions 2007 and above. If you prefer Paste Special, you can access it from the drop down arrow on the Paste icon in the Clipboard group or by right-clicking over desired destination cell and mousing over the Paste icons:

Paste Special Linked Picture

Tip: If you like keyboard shortcuts, press: ALT-H-V-I to paste a linked image.

Paste Special Linked Picture and Camera Tool Restrictions

Not too many downsides to using the Camera tool but here’s some cautions:

  • Some users say that it does not work with Tables; that the data must be converted to a range, but I have not experienced that with newer versions. The table copies, pastes and updates.
  • If using formulas such as IF function with Camera tool, you must use Named Ranges, rather than cell references to maintain the update connection.

Note: The Copy command in the Clipboard group on the Home tab, contains a Copy as Picture… option. This is handy but know that it pastes an image but not a link. Use when you just want a snapshot of your data.

Grab the post for Part 1 hereCamera Tool Part 1

See – don’t even have to be a photographer! Take some pictures and play with dashboards. What did you create?

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