Changing the Comment Color

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 11, 2016)

Excel allows you to add comments to individual cells in a worksheet. These are handy for keeping notes pertaining to the contents of a cell. (How you add comments is discussed in other ExcelTips.) When you later move your mouse pointer over the top of a cell that has a comment associated with it, a small pop-up box appears that shows the comment.

The normal color for the comment box is a pale yellow, to supposedly mimic the appearance of the paper sticky notes that we all know and love so well. What if you don't like pale yellow sticky notes, however? In that case, you may be looking for a way to change the color Excel uses for the comment box.

The news here is both bad and good. It is bad because Excel doesn't have a way to change just the color of the comment box. The good news is that Excel relies on the system colors set in Windows to determine what color the comment boxes should be. Excel uses the ToolTip color setting for the comment boxes. If you want to change that setting, follow these steps if you are using Windows 7:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and choose Personalize from the resulting Context menu. Windows displays the Personalization portion of the Control Panel.
  2. Click Window Color at the bottom of the window. Windows displays the Color and Appearance options for your display.
  3. Click the Advanced Appearance Settings link. Windows displays the Window Color and Appearance dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Window Color and Appearance dialog box.

  5. In the Item drop-down list, select ToolTip.
  6. Click on the Color 1 indicator, to the right of the Item drop-down list. Windows displays a small palette you can use to select a color.
  7. Click on the color you want to use.
  8. Click on OK to close the Window Color and Appearance dialog box.
  9. Close the Color and Appearance options window.

If you are using Windows XP, the steps are different:

  1. Minimize Excel, along with all your other programs.
  2. Right-click on any area of the desktop itself. Windows displays a Context menu.
  3. Choose Properties. Windows opens the Display Properties dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Appearance tab is selected.
  5. Select Advanced in the lower right-hand corner. Windows displays the Advanced Appearance dialog box.
  6. Using the Item drop-down list, choose ToolTip.
  7. Click on the Color indicator, to the right of the Item drop-down list. Windows displays a small palette you can use to select a color.
  8. Click on the color you want to use.
  9. Click on OK.

Now your comment boxes will be the color you selected. In addition, since you changed the ToolTip color, all your ToolTips in Excel and all your other programs will be the same color.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3930) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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