Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Magnifying Only the Current Cell.

Magnifying Only the Current Cell

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 3, 2015)

Brian asked if there is a way in Excel to magnify the contents of the current cell. He's working on a worksheet which needs to be at a low zoom setting (30% or so) to see the whole sheet. As different scenarios are run, cells change color depending on the result. Brian can easily see which cells he needs to investigate, but he can't read them because of the zoom setting. He normally changes the zoom, reads the answer, and zooms back out to run another scenario. It would be much easier if only the current cell (the one selected) were magnified to a readable level.

There is no built-in method in Excel to accomplish this selective method of zooming, but there are a couple of workarounds you can use. One such workaround is to use a macro that displays the value in the active cell in a message box. Such a macro is easy to add to the worksheet module:

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
    MsgBox ActiveCell.Address & ": " & ActiveCell.Value
End Sub

Every time you select a different cell in the worksheet, the macro pops up a message box that shows the contents of that cell. This solves the problem, but it can get tiresome to continually close message boxes every time you change which cell is selected.

You could also create a macro that simply changed the font size of whatever cell is currently selected. The following simple macro, added to the worksheet module, looks at the currently selected cell and increases its font size by 500%.

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
    FontSize = ActiveCell.Font.Size
    LargeSize = FontSize * 5
    Cells.Font.Size = FontSize
    ActiveCell.Font.Size = LargeSize
End Sub

The utility of such a macro will depend, of course, on how you have the height and width of the selected cell formatted. If they are static heights and widths, it is possible that increasing the font size will make the cell contents unreadable. If the height and width are dynamic, then the contents should still be quite readable.

Still another approach is to create your own zoomed-in picture of each cell as it is selected:

Private Sub ZoomCell(ZoomIn As Single)
    Dim s As Range
    Set s = Selection

    'Get rid of any existing zoom pictures
    For Each p In ActiveSheet.Pictures
        If p.Name = "ZoomCell" Then
            p.Delete
            Exit For
        End If
    Next

    'Create a zoom picture
    s.CopyPicture Appearance:=xlScreen, _
      Format:=xlPicture
    ActiveSheet.Pictures.Paste.Select
    With Selection
        .Name = "ZoomCell"
        With .ShapeRange
            .ScaleWidth ZoomIn, msoFalse, _
              msoScaleFromTopLeft
            .ScaleHeight ZoomIn, msoFalse, _
              msoScaleFromTopLeft
            With .Fill
                .ForeColor.SchemeColor = 9
                .Visible = msoTrue
                .Solid
            End With
        End With
    End With
    s.Select
    Set s = Nothing
End Sub

In order to use the macro, you need to call it each time the selection in the worksheet changes. To do this, you add a small macro to the worksheet module:

Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
    ZoomCell 6
End Sub

In this case, every time the cell selection is changed, the ZoomCell macro is run to create a picture that is six times the size of the original. If it gets bothersome to have the picture automatically change every time you select a different cell, you could do away with the trigger macro in the worksheet module and modify the ZoomCell macro so that it runs whenever you initiate it, perhaps with a shortcut key that you set up.

Sub ZoomCell()
    Dim s As Range
    Dim ZoomIn As Single
    Set s = Selection
    ZoomIn = 6

    'Get rid of any existing zoom pictures
    For Each p In ActiveSheet.Pictures
        If p.Name = "ZoomCell" Then
            p.Delete
            Exit For
        End If
    Next

    'Create a zoom picture
    s.CopyPicture Appearance:=xlScreen, _
      Format:=xlPicture
    ActiveSheet.Pictures.Paste.Select
    With Selection
        .Name = "ZoomCell"
        With .ShapeRange
            .ScaleWidth ZoomIn, msoFalse, _
              msoScaleFromTopLeft
            .ScaleHeight ZoomIn, msoFalse, _
              msoScaleFromTopLeft
            With .Fill
                .ForeColor.SchemeColor = 9
                .Visible = msoTrue
                .Solid
            End With
        End With
    End With
    s.Select
    Set s = Nothing
End Sub

A final option is to step outside of Excel entirely and rely on Windows. One of the accessibility tools provided with the operating system is called Magnifier. The program magnifies the area near the mouse pointer, overlaying another area of the screen with the enlarged image. You can use this tool by choosing Start | All Programs | Accessories | Accessibility | Magnifier. You'll see the magnified area appear at the top of your screen, and a dialog box that allows you to set different options for the program. When you no longer need the magnification, you can turn it off by clicking Exit on the dialog box.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3114) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Magnifying Only the Current Cell.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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