Tracing Precedents and Dependents Clears Undo Stack

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 6, 2019)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Martyn was recently auditing a worksheet and found that clicking Trace Precedents or Trace Dependents results in the Undo stack being cleared. He wonders if there is a way to use these auditing tools and not have the Undo stack cleared.

When talking about the Undo stack, it has long been known that running a macro will clear it. Most add-ins will clear the Undo stack as well, but this is related to macros doing the clearing because add-ins most often rely on macros to do their work.

It seems that macros aren't the only triggers for clearing, however, as Martyn has found out. The auditing tools do, indeed, clear the Undo stack. There is no way to turn this off, and the only workaround is to save your workbook often, and if you must use a stack-cleaning command, you may want to save different "development versions" of your workbook, under different names so that you can, if necessary, go back to an earlier version.

This is not much of a workaround in some scenarios, I know, but it is the best that one can offer when it comes to the Undo stack being cleared. You might also consider when you are using the auditing tools—if you can put off their use until a point in workbook development where you are sure you will not need to utilize the Undo stack, that may be the way to go.

You might also consider putting in an "idea" at Microsoft's UserVoice site. This is the site where Microsoft supposedly gets ideas from users about how to improve Excel. You can find the site here:

In doing a search at the site for "undo stack" I located this previous user suggestion which is directly related to the problem Martyn brings up:

The suggestion was created back in September 2016, and since then has garnered 3 votes. This low vote count means that it will probably not make it high on Microsoft's radar for things to change. So, the idea would be for Martyn to not create a new suggestion, but to up-vote the existing suggestion and get like-minded people to do the same.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6269) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 3 + 4?

2019-04-08 19:01:58


Guys... please... Top Suggestion is to have Python available instead of just VBA:

Python as an Excel scripting language
Let us do scripting with Python! Yay! Not only as an alternative to VBA, but also as an alternative to field functions (=SUM(A1:A2))

Daniel shared this idea · Nov 4, 2015 · Flag idea as inappropriate…
Accepting Votes ·

Excel Team [MSFT] (Product Owner, responded · Feb 28, 2018
Thank you to all those participated in our survey. What an amazing number of responses, many of them with very deep content. We’re processing the over ten thousand responses(!), and already appreciate the time so many of you took to answer with passion and experience.
Please know this survey is used to help influence various topics – both on Python as well as other related topics that the comments started to bleed into. Given the passion, I want to be clear this remains an area of exploration for us, without any specific timeline.
We’ll provide updates as we progress on this feature request.
Ashvini Sharma
Lead Program Manager

5,989 votes for that. Notice 5 lines above the name ("Ashvini Sharma") he says they put out a survey and had over 10,000 responses.

"Wow" to quote him.

Also to quote him:

"Given the passion, I want to be clear this remains an area of exploration for us, without any specific timeline."

This was a year and a month ago.

Boy-oh-boy, let's just use the heck out of that site! I've gotta say, I like Allen's style, actually providing things and responding to questions a WHOLE LOT BETTER.

Over 10,000 reponses on a site whose Sugegstions usually hit a dozen or two votes at best and 13 months ago they finished off their response to that with "... without any specific timeline."

They want to push us all to use PowerApps and easily triple their used-to-be-done-with-Excel revenue stream via PowerApps and its discrete subscription model. (I give examples on a couple of the nearer-to-the-top Suggestions on that site, won't bore you here (well, with THAT anyway, you be the judge on the rest of this post).)

Allen, my friend, you need to start a new product advice site here, for PowerApps, as we will all need smart peoples' insight as we are bum-rushed over to it.

There's pretty high one for having one Undo stack per spreadsheet, and lots of related things like the very particular one Allen found. 10-20 pretty decent other Suggestions there to, if you don't mind tilting at windmills. (I voted, so I guess I don't mind.)

2019-04-08 09:54:07


@Graham, I agree that the response from Microsoft on these suggestions is very poor, but it's not quite zero. For example if you click on the Editing category (542 threads) then click on 'Top ideas' you can see some sort of response from them on just the top 5, only 3 of which are (approximately) within the last year. The 5th one has 235 votes, which sets rather a high bar - the thread on the Undo stack and auditing tools has only struggled up to 22 votes since Allen posted his article.

The possibly good news is that one of those top 5 also concerns the Undo stack ("Make Undo stacks track per workbook instead of globally", an even more important issue IMO):

The response from John (Excel Team [MSFT] (Product Owner, in that thread includes "we hear you and we’ll get someone on the team to dig in to the issue. I’ve seen a few related sub-issues while scanning over the comment section for this one, so we may reach out to a few of you for clarifications", which gives me some hope that the issue with auditing tools might get swept up if Microsoft ever address the other issues with the Undo stack.

2019-04-07 13:41:14


Allen, sorry but the UserVoice site is a total waste of time!

Microsoft don't care ONE JOT, and aren't taking any notice of it.

Even ideas with thousands of votes show both no progress, and no response from Microsoft.

It appears they set it up hoping for fancy new stuff to code, but instead got a response of "Fix all these existing problems and daft settings" ... and soon lost interest!

They won't listen and don't care!


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