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How to make an interactive view-only dashboard from Excel

Interactive View Only Dashboard

Often as Excel users, we can look across at Power BI and see the convenience of having a sharable web-based dashboard. It’s nice to have each person viewing a dashboard without affecting other users. We don’t have anything similar in Excel… or do we?

Normally, if we share an Excel Workbook saved in OneDrive or SharePoint, every change made by a user updates the file. Therefore, it affects everybody else viewing the workbook at the same time.

We could email the report to all the users, but that is not keeping a single version of a file. Plus, if it’s a live report, we could be emailing it every day!

So, how can we create a view-only interactive dashboard from Excel, which is linked to one source? Let’s find out.

Watch the video

Watch on YouTube

Acknowledgments: The method shown in this post is from Chris Webb’s presentation to the Toronto Excel Meetup Group ( Please watch the video; it’s got some amazing techniques.

Get the sharing URL

Open the Excel workbook in Excel Online from One Drive for Business or SharePoint. Note: It must be in Excel Online, as the options don’t exist in Excel Desktop.

In Excel Online, click File > Share > Embed

File Share Embed

The Embed dialog box contains various settings.

Embed options
  • What to show – Select an Entire Workbook, or restrict to a specific range, or chart
  • Appearance – Decide whether to:
    • Hide gridlines
    • Hide row and column headers
    • Include a download link
  • Interactions – Determine how users can use the worksheet
    • Let people sort and filter
    • Let people type into cells
    • Always start with a cell selected
  • Dimensions – Define the width and height of the HTML iframe. We are not using an iframe in this post, so we can ignore this setting.

After making these selections, we can see the Embed Code at the bottom of the window. Copy this code and paste it into a text editor.

Viewing the dashboard

The Embed code looks something like this:

<iframe width="402" height="346" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="{xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}&action=embedview&AllowTyping=True&ActiveCell='Presentation'!A1&wdHideGridlines=True&wdHideHeaders=True&wdInConfigurator=True&wdInConfigurator=True"></iframe>

At the start and end of this code are the iframe tags. These are for embedding the Excel workbook into a webpage. But we don’t want to do that; we just want to share the dashboard. Therefore, we need to delete these elements

<iframe width="402" height="346" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="{xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}&action=embedview&AllowTyping=True&ActiveCell='Presentation'!A1&wdHideGridlines=True&wdHideHeaders=True&wdInConfigurator=True&wdInConfigurator=True"></iframe>

This leaves just the section we need.{xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}&action=embedview&AllowTyping=True&ActiveCell='Presentation'!A1&wdHideGridlines=True&wdHideHeaders=True&wdInConfigurator=True&wdInConfigurator=True

Copy and paste the remaining code into the address bar of a web browser.

BOOM! Our Excel dashboard is now available in full screen for users to interact with. Slicers work, and formulas update, but no changes are saved.

We don’t need a website; we can simply send the URL to users, who can view the reports.

Dashboard in Web browser

URL Customization

The URL includes the settings we applied in the Embed dialog box. Therefore, users can edit the URL and apply other settings if they want to. This might not be ideal for your situation, so be aware that this could be a risk in your scenario.

The following URL shows how the settings are applied. There is a & separating each setting.{xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}&action=embedview&AllowTyping=True&ActiveCell=’Presentation’!A1&wdHideGridlines=True&wdHideHeaders=True&wdInConfigurator=True&wdInConfigurator=True

The following is a list of settings we can use:

  • wdHideSheetTabs=True
    • Hides the sheet tabs displayed at the bottom of the workbook
    • If excluded, the tabs are displayed.
  • wdAllowInteractivity=True
    • Allows users to interact with the workbook (e.g., Table filtering, PivotTable filtering, slicers, etc.)
    • If excluded, interactivity is allowed by default.
  • Item=itemName
    • Only displays a named item, such as a named range, chart, table, or PivotTable.
    • Replaced itemName with the name you want to display
    • If excluded, displays the entire workbook
  • ActiveCell=CellName
    • Determines which cell and sheet are active when the workbook opens in the browser.
    • Can be a cell reference or a named range.
    • The syntax is: ‘Sheet%20Name’!A1 (%20 represents a space character)
    • If no active cell is provided, the last saved view is shown
  • wdHideGridlines=True
    • Hides worksheet gridlines
    • If not set, it defaults to false. Will respect if already hidden the gridlines in the original file.
  • wdHideHeaders=True
    • Hides the column and row headers.
    • If not set, defaults to false
  • wdDownloadButton=True
    • Includes the Download button in the bar at the bottom so users can download a copy of the workbook.
    • If not set, the default is false

Row-level security??

Power BI has row-level security; therefore, users only have access to the data they are allowed to see. However, using the method in this post, every user can view all the data.

The only way to restrict the data in Excel is to create different versions of the report and have separate URLs for each.


In Excel, we can create an interactive, view-only, web-based report from Excel, similar to those in Power BI. However there are limitations for security, and we can only apply this using Excel Online.

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About the author

Hey, I’m Mark, and I run Excel Off The Grid.

My parents tell me that at the age of 7 I declared I was going to become a qualified accountant. I was either psychic or had no imagination, as that is exactly what happened. However, it wasn't until I was 35 that my journey really began.

In 2015, I started a new job, for which I was regularly working after 10pm. As a result, I rarely saw my children during the week. So, I started searching for the secrets to automating Excel. I discovered that by building a small number of simple tools, I could combine them together in different ways to automate nearly all my regular tasks. This meant I could work less hours (and I got pay raises!). Today, I teach these techniques to other professionals in our training program so they too can spend less time at work (and more time with their children and doing the things they love).

Do you need help adapting this post to your needs?

I'm guessing the examples in this post don't exactly match your situation. We all use Excel differently, so it's impossible to write a post that will meet everybody's needs. By taking the time to understand the techniques and principles in this post (and elsewhere on this site), you should be able to adapt it to your needs.

But, if you're still struggling you should:

  1. Read other blogs, or watch YouTube videos on the same topic. You will benefit much more by discovering your own solutions.
  2. Ask the 'Excel Ninja' in your office. It's amazing what things other people know.
  3. Ask a question in a forum like Mr Excel, or the Microsoft Answers Community. Remember, the people on these forums are generally giving their time for free. So take care to craft your question, make sure it's clear and concise.  List all the things you've tried, and provide screenshots, code segments and example workbooks.
  4. Use Excel Rescue, who are my consultancy partner. They help by providing solutions to smaller Excel problems.

What next?
Don't go yet, there is plenty more to learn on Excel Off The Grid.  Check out the latest posts:

2 thoughts on “How to make an interactive view-only dashboard from Excel

  1. Erdem says:

    Hey Mark,

    The dahshboard you used above as example well deserves a blog post independently to show us how to make it. Looks simple and sophisticated.

    Wouldn’t you think about it?


    • Excel Off The Grid says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Erdem, a few people have asked for that. So I will put it on the list of ideas.

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