Insert Dynamic Screenshots Using a Camera in Microsoft Excel

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated April 7, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

You can insert a live screenshot of an area in a workbook using Excel's hidden Camera. Screenshots created using this method  update automatically when the original area changes. Since the Camera is a bit difficult to find, you'll need to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar (or the Ribbon) to use it.

Pictures taken with Excel's Camera are picture links (images with a formula assigned to them) which is why they will dynamically update if the original data changes. You can also use menus to take picture links.

Recommended article: How to Insert Screenshots in PowerPoint and Word

Using Camera snapshots or picture links

You can use camera snapshots or picture links in many ways including in:

  • Reports or dashboards where you want to summarize data. You can use camera screenshots of key data areas or charts and resize and align them.
  • Worksheets with charts where you want to see the chart change as data changes and display a smaller version of a chart.
  • Workbooks where you wish to view a total from another area of your workbook.
  • Shared workbooks where you want to prevent another user from changing formulas or data where you provide them with a camera snapshot that they can't change.
  • Situations where you want to share a picture link with others by copying and pasting.

Adding the Camera to the Quick Access Toolbar

The first thing you should do is add the Camera to the Quick Access Toolbar:

  1. Click the File tab on the Ribbon and then click Options.
  2. Click the Quick Access Toolbar category on the left.
  3. From the drop-down menu under Choose commands from, select All Commands.
  4. Scroll through the list of commands and click Camera.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Close. The Camera will appear on the Quick Access Toolbar.

The Camera appears as a button in Excel Options:

Adding the Camera Tool to the Quick Access Toolbar in Microsoft Excel.

Taking a screenshot with the Camera

Note the Camera in the Quick Access Toolbar:

Camera tool on the Quick Access Toolbar in Microsoft Excel.

To take a live screenshot with the Camera:

  1. Select the cells you want to capture in a screenshot.
  2. Click on Camera on the Quick Access Toolbar. The mouse pointer will change to a cross.
  3. Move the mouse pointer to the location for the screenshot and drag to create a rectangle. The screenshot or picture link will be created within the box.
  4. Resize the picture by dragging handles that appear around the picture and align as necessary by dragging the picture (you can also use the Ribbon alignment commands). You can also apply picture effects using the Picture tab on the Ribbon when the picture is selected.

Creating picture links without using the Camera

To insert a picture link using the context menu:

  1. Select the cells you want to include in a live screenshot.
  2. Right-click and choose Copy or press Ctrl + C.
  3. Click where you want to insert the live screenshot.
  4. Right-click and choose Linked Picture from the context sensitive menu or click Paste on the Home tab on the Ribbon and choose Linked Picture from the drop-down menu. Resize, align and format the picture as necessary.

Paste options appear in the Paste drop-down menu in the Ribbon:

Using a drop-down menu to insert a picture link in Microsoft Excel.

Give it a try. It's easy to start adding picture links in Excel.

This article was first published on November 8, 2015 and has been updated for clarity and content.

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