5 Easy Shortcuts That Will Save you Heaps of Time – Google Sheets

It’s time to get evangelical peep! Release yourself from the yolk of the menu bar and it’s insidious demands on you coordination and time!

Break free from the right click menu! For is it not anything more than a proxy menu bar?! A veritable wolf in sheep’s clothing with no other design but to bring you back to the fold of the menu-using, mouth-drooling reprobates  who stand in the way of efficient progress! Can I get an Amen! I said, can I get an Amen!

No? Fair enough…

Let’s just get on with it then, shall we? After all, this is about efficiency, right?

Here are the 5 main shortcuts that I use in Google Sheets each and every day to save me a tonne of time. I’m going to give you a bit more than just the Keyboard Shortcut, I’m going to demonstrate how I use it with some clear examples.

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Google Sheets – How to Separate the First Name from a Full Name Cell

left, right, find, length

Every academic quarter I receive a list of students by their full name in one cell that I need to split into a cell for the first name and then a cell for the middle and last names combined. 

This fairly simple process can be achieved with the Google Sheets formulas left, right and find. 

If you are in a hurry, here are the formulas below: 

First Names

To get the first name we do the following: 

=LEFT(A2,FIND(” “,A2))

Where ‘A2’ is the cell that we have our full name in – in our case Vasco Nunez de Balboa.

When you have multiple formulas in a cell it’s often best to go from the inside out. So let’s first look at what FIND does. 

FIND looks inside the cell for the first value that we want to search for. For us, it’s an empty space, ” “. Find then returns the numerical position of that found item.  To do this FIND takes two arguments: 

=FIND(the item we are searching for, the cell or string the item is in)

For example if we are searching for the location of the space in
 Vasco Nunez de Balboa  which is in cell A2,  we would do the following:

=FIND(” “,A2)

Which would give the result: 6

There are five letters in the first name Vasco the the space would be position 6. 

Now that we have the position  of the space, lest just grab everything in the cell to the left of that space. We do this with LEFT

LEFT also take two values. The first is cell location and the second is the number characters we want to take from the left hand side. 

LEFT(cell location, number of characters from the left)

Now that we know the first space is character 6, the formula would look like this:

LEFT(A2,6)

We then replace the 6 with our FIND formula and we are good to go.

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Google Apps Script – How to Get the Sheet Name and Spreadsheet Name and add to a Cell on Google Sheets with a Custom Function

Google Apps Script, Custom Functions

Boy, are these titles getting longer. 

But that’s pretty much the gist of it. In this post we will look at creating a Google Apps Script Custom Function that allows you to do Three thing in Google Sheets: 

  1. Get the current sheet name.  That’s the same sheet name as the cell you are working in.
  2. Get all the sheet names. A full list of all the sheet names. 
  3. Get the name of the Spreadsheet file. 
Get Sheet Names and Spreadsheet Names Only - Google Apps Script

The above picture is pretty self explanatory. If you type in:

=SHEETNAME(#)

Where “#”  is a number 0, 1 or 2 you will get the results displayed in the picture. Any other number will display an error. 

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Google Apps Script – Copy Selected Columns in One Sheet and Add Them To The Bottom of Different Selected Columns in Another

I recently had a legend (a.k.a reader) ask about how to copy selected columns from one sheet and append them to the bottom of different selected columns in another sheet. 

To me, this seemed like a pretty common task that one might face, so in response I decided to create a template function to easily do this and reuse on the same project or in other projects. 

But first, let’s take a look a the problem a bit more. 

We want:

  1. the freedom to select any number of columns from one sheet.
  2. to select the same number of different columns from the sheet we want to paste to.
  3. to paste to the bottom (append) the receiving sheet.
  4. to take into account varying header row heights.
  5. to have a “Completed” or “Copied” column in our origin sheet so that we don’t continue to paste all the data instead of simply what has been updated.
  6. have the data with formulas that we only want to paste the values for.

The Example

Let’s say we have a sheet that is updated regularly and we want to be able to paste data from columns A,B and C of this source sheet and append it to columns C,E and A of the destination Sheet. 

  • Copy Sheet 1 Col A -> Append Sheet 2 Col C
  • Copy Sheet 1 Col B -> Append Sheet 2 Col E
  • Copy Sheet 1 Col C -> Append Sheet 2 Col A

Take a look at our two Google Sheets 

SourceSheet - Google Sheets
DestinationSheet - Google Sheets

You can see in the Source Sheet (Sheet1) that we have 3 data columns and one column market To Copy. The To Copy column will be updated with “Copied” once the code is run successfully.

In the Destination Sheet (Sheet2) you can see that we already have some data there. We don’t want to overwrite it. We simply want to append our data to the bottom of it. 

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Google Sheets – Remove The Lowest Grade for Each Student on a Course

Google Sheets – MIN, FILTER, INDEX, MATCH, SUM, COUNTIF

In the region of the world that I work in, it is a pretty common occurrence for university courses to run weekly assessment. At the end of the course all the weekly assessment is then added together minus the lowest piece of assessment.

For lecturers with small course sizes this is a pretty simple task that you could simply eyeball if you have a small enough group, but what if your course runs into the thousands with half a dozen tests to choose from. Eyeballing is just not going to do it.

Recently I was asked to do the same thing for the program that I manage. Over an 8 week term, we run 7 assessment at the end of each week for our students.  My job was to find the lowest grade out of the 7 assessment and drop it, taking note of the assessment unit that I dropped for each student. 

I use Google Sheets for this purpose for it’s ease of use and sharability.

This is an example dataset of the 7 assessment (in this case, weekly tests) in Google Sheets. We need to remove the lowest grade from each student. As you can see not all students have their lowest grade in the same Unit test. 

List of 7 grades for each student - Google Sheets
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Google Sheets – Get the Top 2 Grades for Each Group in a Spreadsheet using RANK and FILTER

This week I was asked to provide a list of the top two student grades in each of the 100 classes in our university program. 

Normally, this would be a pretty easy task if there were only a half dozen or so classes. Simply sort by group (class) and then Grade. Finally copy and paste the top 2 ranked students of each group in a new sheet – print and hand to the boss. 

However, with 100 classes this was going to turn into a time consuming chore and one that could be prone to errors. 

To solve this problem, I took advantage of Google Sheets RANK.EQ and FILTER formulas. Let’s take a peek at the formula now and go through the steps in detail later.

Let’s move on to an example.

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Google Apps Script – Getting Input Data From a Dialog Box in Google Sheets

Google Apps Script, Jquery, Javascript, HTML

One of the weekly tasks in my day job as an academic administrator is to look at a number of ‘modules’ or courses that our college is running and complete some analysis and crosschecking. Each week the students complete a ‘unit’. However, during some quarters, not all modules are doing the same unit. Before I can run my code I need to determine what modules are running and what units we are up to for me to run my automated code.

To do this I created a dialog box when the code is run from the add-on bar. In a few clicks, I can then choose the relevant modules and units and then run the selected code.

Let’s take a look at what the dialog box looks like:

Dialog Form in Google Apps Script

Upon “Submit”, the dialog box returns an array  of objects of checked values from the radio buttons that can be uses in the server-side Google Apps Script.

In this tutorial we will look at the following :

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Google Apps Script – How to Automatically Generate a Time From a Four Digit 24 hour Time in Google Sheets.

Google Apps Script, Google Sheets

On a recent board post a Google Sheets user wanted to change a four digit number (for example, 1230) to a time, like 12:30, in the same cell that the item was entered.

Unfortunately the user was not in a position to change the starting values, so they were left with the 4 digits.

There are two ways of doing this with varying levels of complexity:

 

  1. The Google Sheets Formula Approach
  2. The Google Apps Script onEdit Approach

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How to Hide a Row based on a Cell Value in Google Sheets with Filter or Google Apps Script.

Google Sheets, Google Apps Script

Sometimes, when you are working on a shared Google Sheet you might want to hide a row based on a cell value.

For example, perhaps we don’t want to see row information of orders that have been paid for. Take a look at my D&D miniatures wholesale orders sheet (image below). I know I don’t need to follow up the orders that have been paid, marked with a ‘Yes’ in column F, so I don’t want to see them on my sheet.

We want to hide the "Yes" - Google Sheets

We can hide these two ways:

  1. Create a filter.
  2. Google Apps Script onEdit() trigger.

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Sections to Sheets – Free Google Add-on That Separates Column Sections Into Individual Sheets for Page-by-Page Export or Printing

What is Sections to Sheets?

Sections to Sheets is a free Google Sheets Add-on that separates rows by column sections and puts them in individual pages or sheets in a spreadsheet in preparation export and printing.

You can find Sections to Sheets at the Google Chrome Webstore.

Chrome Web Store Badge

Example 1

Let’s say you want to print out a list of expenditures by department and you want each department to start on a new page. You’ll also want to keep the same header for each page.

Example 2

You might want to export a list of grades by class number. You sort the grades by class and then export the list with each class starting on a new page with a header and footer.

Sections to Sheets can help you achieve this quickly by creating a new Google Spreadsheet and separating each selection and putting it into a new Sheet(tab) with or without headers and footer. This will enable you to quickly export or print your sheets.

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