This article is supporting information for the YouTube video:

Firstly, well done for taking the time out to invest in your learning. Self-investment in time, money and effort, is an area that will pay for itself many times over in the future. Secondly, Microsoft Excel is a powerful and highly flexible tool. This is one of the many reasons as to why it has stood the test of time. Investing in understanding how it works will serve you well in your career, whatever the industry.

This videos series, Mastering Excel Fundamentals, was created with two groups of people in mind. The first group? Those who dislike Excel but are forced to use it without ever having received formal training. And the second? Those who have not used Excel in a while and have come back to it to find that that it has changed.

Video 1- Excel Starter Screen

It helps to have the Excel Starter Screen open when following these instructions. However, screenshot of the Starter Screen has been provided below for ease of reference.


The starter screen is exactly as it sounds. It’s the screen you see when you first start Microsoft Excel. The programmers have done their best to make this screen as useful to the end user as possible. Even though there is a lot going on, don’t be put off. The video and article focus on three key tabs as highlighted in the screenshot below. However, if you have a specific question about another part of the starter screen not covered in this video, please leave a question in the comments and I will get back to you.

The three tabs I have chosen to focus on are (1) “Recent” (2) “Pinned” and (3) “More templates” because:

“Recent” and “Pinned” tabs will enable you to navigate files much faster in Excel, while

“More templates” tab will help you to see what is possible if you put in the time and effort to understand and learn more about Excel and its features.

1. Recent – This tab shows your recently opened files. File names, file paths and when they were last modified will appear in the sections under arrows A & B as illustrated in the screenshot. This will include system downloads from other programs and Excel attachments opened from emails. However, the number of files that will show here is finite and older files will be replaced by newer ones when capacity is reached. Still, it is a handy tab to remember for several reasons including the below:

  • you close a file by accident and need it back again
  • you opened an attachment, deleted the email and need to refer back to it
  • you need a file you worked on earlier in the day or the day before (remember that this would be dependent on how many other Excel files you have opened during the day)!

2. Pinned – This tab shows files that have been specifically chosen or “pinned” by the user. It is perfect for those files that you MUST use regularly but can end up disappearing from the “Recent” tab due to the sheer volume of files being opened. The “Pinned” tab looks just like the “Recent” tab with the same file details appearing under arrows A & B. The key difference in the “Pinned” tab, is that files that end up here are by your choosing and are unaffected by the frequency of which you might download and open other files. Click on the ‘pin’ (arrow C) to save files here. Click the ‘pin’ again to remove from “Pinned” if you change your mind.

3. More templates – This tab will help you to appreciate the versatility of Excel so that you can begin to appreciate why this program is so popular.  I would encourage you to browse, open templates and start to get a feel of what you could end up creating once you learn how to navigate and exploit Excel features.

Key Takeaway

Next time you open Excel, take the time to use and get to know the above features. Don’t be afraid to refer back to this video if need be. The “Recent” and “Pinned” tabs will help you to work faster with files once you get the hang of them, so start there.

Our plan is to eventually create a printable/downloadable summary sheet of key points from the videos, so make sure you subscribe to receive emails from us to get your copy. Don’t forget to also subscribe to our YouTube channel, so you can get updates of when the next video in the series is out.

Did you know…