fixed : hashtags making text unreadable in Excel

Question :

Somebody sent me an Excel spreadsheet in which some of the data is unreadable since it has been replaced by text consisting of hashtag signs only…

I’ve seen this happening before, and the remedy used to be just to broaden the column, since all number that are too large to fit their cell width are automatically made unreadable…

However, in this case, if I broaden the column width, some of the hashtag text will turned into readable numbers, but other hashtag text will remain, no matter how wide I make the column…

What is wrong ?

And how can I fix this ?


Answer :

This seems to be a problem with Excel for Windows files that are opened in Excel for Mac (possibly more specifically with data copied or converted from another application into Excel on a Windows-PC). So PC-users will not be warned on forehand that their Excel output is not suited for use on Macs…

Fixing it turns out to be rather simple (but annoying) :

• open the file in Excel for Mac

• select the cells that are effected (or preferably even the entire column), then go to “Format” in the top menu bar

• from the dropdown-menu that appears, select “Cells…” and a window entitled “Format Cells” will open

• make sure the “Number”-tab is selected and make sure that you select “Number” or “General” from the list (make sure that it is something else than what was previously selected ; anything seems to be okay, as long as it is not “Accounting”)

• no return to your spreadsheet to check if the hashtag texts have disappeared (if not : try again)

That’s it !

Enjoy !


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fixed : place a picture behind an Excel chart or graph

Question :

I am using Excel (from Microsoft Office) and I want to put the chart I’ve just made on top of a picture. How can I do that ?

Answer :

In Excel v14 (from MS Office 2011 for Mac), this can be done like this :

1- create the chart

2- select the chart area (you will see a bold, light blue frame around the entire chart area), then click the “Charts>Format”-tab (the purple tab in-between the green tabs), then in “Current Selection” click the “Format Selection”-button

3- in the window that opens select “Fill”, then the “Solid”-tab, and set the “Color:”-dial to “No Fill” and click “OK”

4- select the chart itself (inside the chart area – you will see a black lined square with light blue dots on the corners around the actual chart), then again, click “Charts>Format”-tab (the purple tab in-between the green tabs), and again, in “Current Selection” click the “Format Selection”-button

5- in the window that opens, again select “Fill”, then the “Solid”-tab, and set the “Color:”-dail to “No Fill” and click “OK”

6- then de-select the chart

7- in the upper Excel menu bar that’s fixed in the Finder, select the “Insert”-tab, and from the drop down menu that appears, select “Photo > Picture From File” and in the “Choose a Picture”-window that appears, select the image you need and click “OK”

8- the image will appear on top of your chart, now first resize it (by dragging the light blue corner-dots) and place it over your chart area

9- select the image (again, if it’s not already selected), click the “Format Picture”-tab and remove the background color(s) of the image if you need (using the “Remove Background”-option from “Adjust”)

10- then, also in the “Format Picture”-tab, select the “Reorder”-option from “Arrange”, and select “Send to Back” from the 4 options that appear in the pulldown menu ; your image will now be behind your chart

11- for fine-tuning, if needed, you can now resize or rearrange the image and the chart until the align exactly as you need them to

12- if you want the Excel-cell-grid behind your chart to disappear also, select the area of cells behind and around your chart and select WHITE (or any other color you need) from small triangle-shaped arrow just next to the “Fill Color”-button (the paint bucket icon)

That’s it !

Enjoy !

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info : I can’t get write-permission to external harddisk from Windows-user

Question :

A Windows-user asked me to put some file on his external harddisk, but when I try to do so, I get a message that I only have ‘read-only’ permissions to the harddisk.

How can I copy the files over ?

Answer :

If you get this problem, it usually caused by the fact that MacOSX does not support NTFS-formatted disks ‘out of the box’. [ NTFS = Windows NT File System ; a format that, mainly for server, has replaced the old DOS-originating formats FAT16 and FAT32, which are fully supported by MacOSX, but are less suited for use on large volume harddisks ]

There are 2 main solutions to this :

– 1 –

If you are going to frequently swap this external harddisk between your Mac and a Windows-PC, you’ll be best off reformatting it to FAT32 :

– connect the external harddisk to your Mac

– copy the entire contents over to your Mac (or to another external harddisk or to a diskimage on your Mac)

– check and make sure you have copied everything over

– then reformat the external harddisk to DOS-format (= FAT32) using OSX’s Disk Utility app

– when finished, copy all content that originally was on the external harddisk back on to it

– that’s it !

– 2 –

If it’s only a one-off for you to use this NTFS-formatted harddrive, you’re probably better off installing a special NTFS-driver/utility for OSX.

– download Tuxera NTFS (to use in demo-mode) :

– install Tuxera NTFS, and open it (NOTE : it’s not a regular application, so it can’t be found in your Applications folder, but it’s a Control Panel in the System Preferences)

– now the external NTFS-disk should appear on your Mac in read&write-mode, and you can start copying files onto it

If you run into problems using Tuxera NTFS, read the FAQ :

And if you do exceed the 15 day free Demo-mode of Tuxera NTFS and are not willing to upgrade to the full payed version, you can start using the FREE open source program that is at the origin of Tuxera NTFS ; it’s called  NTFS-3G and can be downloaded here :

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