Pictures in Excel 1: Pictures in Cells

Inserting Pictures into Cells in Microsoft Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide


Hello and welcome to the first post in the Pictures in Excel series! In this first post, we will explore a new feature in Microsoft Excel that allows you to insert pictures directly into cells. This feature provides a range of benefits, and we will discuss them in detail throughout this blog post and the remainder of the series. So, let’s jump right in!

Note: this new capability is not available in all Excel versions.


Background: Inserting Pictures as Floating Objects

For decades, we have been able to insert pictures into our worksheets in Excel. For example, we could use copy/paste or the Insert Picture command. Historically, when we insert pictures, they are placed in a drawing layer that floats above the grid.

In this drawing layer, we can resize the pictures and apply various formats.

We’ve had this capability for years, so let’s move on to the next exercise to explore the new option available to us.

New: Inserting Pictures into Cells

Microsoft has recently introduced the ability to place pictures directly into individual cells.

Note: this feature is not available in all Excel versions.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “Insert” tab at the top of the Excel window.
  2. In the “Illustrations” group, click on “Pictures.”
  3. Click the “Place in Cells” command. Note: Depending on your version of Excel, this feature may not be available.
  4. Choose the source of your picture. You can select an image from your device or choose from other available sources.
  5. Navigate to the desired picture and click on “Insert.”

Once inserted, the picture will be stored within the cell, just like any other cell value. You can change the column width and row height and the picture will resize accordingly.

Let’s explore the benefits of this new feature.

Benefits of Inserting Pictures into Cells

1. Automatic resizing: When you insert a picture into a cell, it will automatically adjust its size based on the dimensions of the cell. If you expand or shrink the cell, the picture will follow suit, maintaining its proportions.

2. It moves with the grid, so the picture will stay in the cell and move when you insert rows or columns.

3. Create reference: By right-clicking on the picture in the cell and selecting Picture in Cell > Create Reference, you can create a floating image that updates with the cell value (the picture stored in the cell). This means you can apply picture formats and position the floating reference image as desired. The floating reference picture will update automatically based on the cell value. For example, if you insert a picture for this year’s badge and later update the cell with next year’s badge, the inserted picture will automatically update as well. This feature basically creates an image that references the cell value itself. Note: this capability will come in handy when we start working with pictures in formulas in the next post 🙂


This tutorial provides an introduction to the new feature in Excel which allows you to insert pictures directly into cells. By following the steps outlined above, you can effortlessly insert pictures from various sources and leverage the benefits of this feature.

In the upcoming posts in this series, we will explore how to use pictures in cells with formulas, PivotTables, and more. Stay tuned for more in-depth guides on maximizing the potential of this feature.

Thank you for joining me in this introductory video of Pictures in Cells. Feel free to ask any questions by posting a comment blow, thanks!

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Jeff Lenning

I love sharing the things I've learned about Excel, and I built Excel University to help me do that. My motto is: Learn Excel. Work Faster.

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