A Cheat Sheet to get more out of Microsoft Excel
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In this article, I wanted to take you through a spin of the Crown, that knob in the upper left corner, Logitech’s favorite new addition to the creator’s keyboard. I’ll tell you what I liked and what could be improved.
If you haven’t read my previous reviews already, make sure to check them out:
Getting to the Logitech’s context menu is super easy. Logitech claimed before I started using the keyboard that it could help me maintain my productivity without even looking at my hands. This claim is true. Finding opportunities to use the Crown is a real treat. And as I used it more, I found myself instinctively drawn to it. There’s a satisfying click when you turn the wheel and it’s really easy to get lost in it.
The wheel itself is sensitive. But this really just takes some getting used to. Unfortunately, as of this software update, there’s nothing I can see that would let you set touch sensitivity. Your mileage might very, but this took a lot to get used to at first. As I used the keyboard more, I rested my hand near the crown to gain quick access. Even the smallest touch would cause the menu to come up. But, again, this goes away as you start to get into flow and train yourself to incorporate the Crown into your work.
Another gripe I have is about interacting with elements on the screen. To access Logitech’s keyboard menu, you gently touch the knob. To go to the next menu item, you touch the knob again. Then to use the feature, you simply start turning the knob.
So the journey to use the feature you want is tap, tap, turn.
This just feels unnatural to me. A simple tap should bring up the context menu. Then to move through the menu items, I would think you could turn the Crown to select the one you’re interested in and then another tap to lock that selection (and then you would turn the wheel to access that interaction). Again, as it’s currently designed, you use a tap to select the next menu item, then another tap to cycle through the menu items from left-to-right. I can’t think of any other device that operates this way.
In my improvement, you first tap to access the menu, use the Crown to cycle through menu options—either going left or right—click once more to select the menu item, and then use the Crown to interact with the feature selected. Another tap should bring you back to the previous menu. This feature journey aligns more closely to native menus like the one accessible through my monitor, my television, etc.—in fact, it’s similar to how you change features in Instagram. Hopefully this is a simple improvement for Logitech or an option to be added later.
And sometimes the Crown, due to its sensitivity, will interpret a light touch as a turn. That means you could accidentally start adjusting a menu item that you didn’t want. The journey I present above prevents this from happening.
By far zooming and scrolling were my most used actions . The truth is, I do a lot of zooming and scrolling when I develop in Excel—and I’m guessing you’re the same. The great thing here is how well the Crown lends itself to this type of interaction. It was easy to jump to necessary sections of the spreadsheet without even using the mouse. I really found my flow and just these two features alone really makes this keyboard worth it.
Again, sensitivity was sometimes an issue. Until you get used to it, it’s easy to overshoot your target zoom level. However, I found the horizontal scroll to be pretty spot on. And it didn’t take a long to really find the right amount of touch to get me to the desired zoom level.
And I would love if there were also a vertical scroll. Choosing to only build horizontal scroll into the menus seems like a strange choice to me. But I know Logitech is planning to build in more functionality and this is really just their first pass.
Never has creating a chart been so easy. You only need to select your data and then with just a tap you can create a chart and start cycling through choices. It’s super fast and lends itself easy to keeping you in the flow of your work.
Logitech envisioned functionality based on folks using chart presets and themes. There’s this idea that you could cycle through charts (and theme types) to see which is the best way to view your data. Logitech isn’t alone in this. Ads around data analytics products (especially from Microsoft) often feature this concept of rapidly viewing your data in a bunch of different ways until you arrive on the best choice or format. If that’s your thing, then that’s your thing. In that case, you probably don’t see any need for improvement.
But that’s not really how I make stuff in Excel. I use Microsoft’s preset themes sparingly. The idea of scrolling through them using the Crown was certainly easy to do . And I’ve used it here and there to make a quick chart. But, for me, data visualization mastery is all about knowing the right charts to use every time. I don’t want to cycle through to see a pie chart because I hate pie charts. And this functionality makes no distinction between time series data (think scatter plots), part-to-whole data (think pie charts and stacked bars), and categorical data (think bars and columns). I don’t expect it to be this smart, but there is a risk that someone would pick a chart type that really doesn’t match the underlying data.
Still, that’s a risk that exists across this entire space, and no keyboard safeguard will stop it. I personally believe we are all charged to do this work well. So this gripe is more against the industry than the keyboard. But it’s worth noting this keyboard isn’t going to let you transcend the problems inherent in working with data.
Look, there’s no disputing this is a great keyboard. And, at a $199 price tag, it’s not necessarily for your beginner level Excel user. It really is for people who love, love, love developing spreadsheets (you know, like me). I see Excel development as an art (go ahead, make fun of me for it!). For me, it’s all about having the right tools to extend my creativity into my work. This keyboard definitely gets me there. And I think with improvements that reflect how Excel users want to interact with their spreadsheets, it will only get better.
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