Tech Tips: Set Print Area in Excel & turning off Mac’s International Popup |

Tech Tips: Set Print Area in Excel & turning off Mac’s International Popup

Doug Behl and Ken Getz

I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use to track my investments, and I’d like to print it to take to my tax guy. I don’t want to print the whole thing, though — I need to find some way to just print a portion of the spreadsheet. I don’t see an option to do this when I select the Print menu item. What’s the trick?

We must confess that there might be better, more specific tools to track investments than Excel, but if it works for you, great. You might want to think a little about the security of the information in a simple spreadsheet, but Excel certainly has the power you need to manage your investments.

In terms of printing just a small portion of a larger spreadsheet, you would think that it would be possible to select the region you want to print, and then have Excel just print that region, right? But that’s not the way it works. On the other hand, it’s almost the way it works — printing a region requires that you take one extra step.

First, select the region you want to print, and then from the menus select File, Print Area, and then Set Print Area. This step indicates to Excel exactly what you want to print.

This setting is “sticky” — that is, even if you close the document and re-open it, Excel will print the region you last selected in this way. (This lends itself to another question: If you open a spreadsheet and only a small area prints, it’s most likely because you’ve set the print area to be a subset of the entire spreadsheet. To clear the print area that you’ve set, select File, Print Area, then Clear Print Area. This action resets the selected print area.)

Note that several other options control the way Excel prints, and they’re far too numerous to dig into here. If you have trouble printing, however, check out the File | Page Setup dialog box, and also investigate options on the Print dialog itself. Excel printing is flexible, which means it also can be confusing.

Turn off Mac’s International Popup

When I type on my Mac, I’m finding that an infuriating little popup constantly gets in the way. It looks like the Mac is suggesting international versions of the characters I’m typing, but that’s never what I want. I don’t know why it’s appearing as I type, but I want it to just go away. Is something wrong with my computer?

Ken had this happen recently: He was typing away on his Mac, but every time he pressed just about any character, a little popup would appear, offering to insert various international characters related to the character he had typed. (For example, if he typed an “a”, he’d see a little popup offering to insert various “flavors” of “a”, with accents, umlauts, and other variants.)

Although many people do need to insert such characters into their documents, Ken does not. Not ever. And if he does, he’ll find some other way to do it, rather than suffering through this little popup making his life miserable.

It turns out that the folks at Apple, in their attempts to make Mac users more productive, provided this little popup in cases where users press and hold a character that has multiple variants around the world (all the vowels, for example).

This means that if you’re used to the PC’s behavior when you press and hold a character — a PC will repeat the character for you — you’ll be frustrated by this popup.

In addition, if your keyboard detects that you’re holding keys a little too long (it happened to Ken because his wireless keyboard’s batteries were getting tired), that little popup appears constantly, and it can drive you mad.

The answer is simple, although it requires doing something you don’t normally do.

If the international popup is popping up and making you want to convince the world to just all speak English, there’s a series of steps you can follow to fix the problem.

First, you’ll need to start the system utility that allows you to communicate directly with your Mac’s operating system, called Terminal.

To find this, in Finder, look in the Applications folder, and then the Utilities folder. Run the Terminal application (it simply opens a little window onscreen.)

In the Terminal window, type the following case-sensitive command: defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false. Press Enter, log out and then back in again, and you’re all fixed. (And, pressing and holding a character causes the character to repeat, as on a Windows PC.)

No more little international popup to plague your day! If you need those International characters, and you want to turn the feature back on, follow these steps again, and type the same command with “true” at the end, rather than “false.”

This little tip saved Ken a lot of cursing, even after he replaced the batteries in his keyboard.

Don’t get angry: Find a solution! That’s the answer.

Doug Behl and Ken Getz spent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Hear Doug and Ken’s tech tips on KNCO radio weekdays at around 8:21 a.m. and 5:38 p.m.; find full write-ups including links to the products they mention at Submit your own technical questions to

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