How to resize a background photo to fit an Excel sheet

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    Excel has an option to insert an image as a background.

    When you use this option, the image is tiled and is used for the entire worksheet, not just a range of cells. Also, the image won’t be printed along with your worksheet. So depending on how you want to use the background, this might not be the best choice. But if you do, try one of these options:

    A different option is to draw a rectangle shape over your data. Then with the Format Shape option, set the Fill to a picture and select your image. Then set the Transparency level so that your data appears through the image.

    To resize or scale the picture, click the header selection box that contains the picture, click Format Picture in the Header & Footer Elements group, and then, in the Format Picture dialog box, select the options that you want on the Size tab.

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    There is no option to automatically resize a cell to fit a picture. Nor is there an option to resize the picture to fit the cell. But you can use VBA code to do either resizing operation.

    The following code will align a picture with the top left corner of the cell at the top left corner of the picture. It will also adjust the row height and column width so the picture fits exactly. I had to resize the column width twice because the first time it didn’t fit perfectly.

    1. Sub ResizeCellToFitPicture() 
    2. Dim shp As Shape 
    3. Dim cel As Range 
    4. Dim celColWidth As Single, celWidth As Single, PicHeight As Single, PicWidth As Single 
    5. Dim i As Long 
    6. Set shp = ActiveSheet.Shapes(1) 
    7. Set cel = shp.TopLeftCell 
    8. PicHeight = shp.Height 
    9. PicWidth = shp.Width 
    10. shp.Left = cel.Left 
    11. shp.Top = cel.Top 
    12. cel.EntireRow.RowHeight = PicHeight 
    13. For i = 1 To 2 
    14. celColWidth = cel.EntireColumn.ColumnWidth 
    15. celWidth = cel.EntireColumn.Width 
    16. celColWidth = (PicWidth / celWidth) celColWidth 
    17. celColWidth = Application.Min(255, celColWidth) 
    18. cel.EntireColumn.ColumnWidth = celColWidth 
    19. Next 
    20. End Sub 

    Images in Excel are on a separate layer and float above the cells. However, there may be some tricks that could approximate what you need.

    1. Insert > Picture

    2. Size the cell so that the picture fits completely within it.

    3. Right click on the picture and select Format Picture.

    4. Select Properties and click on Move and Size with Cells.

    At this point, you can resize the colum or row, insert columns or rows or filter data and the picture stays in the cell.

    However, it’s still possible to click on the picture and drag it out of the cell. To keep the picture from moving, you could try locking the picture cells and protecting the worksheet.

    Make a back up of your file before you do this in case you have problems with the password part.

    1. Select *allthe cells.

    2. Right click and select Format Cells.

    3. Under Protection tab, uncheck Locked. (Locked is the default so you need to actively unlock the other cells.)

    4. Select the cells with the pictures.

    5. Right click and select Format Cells.

    6. Under Protection tab, check Locked.

    7. Under Review menu, click on Protect Sheet. (This is for Excel 2010, it might be different on other versions.)

    8. Set a password, uncheck Select locked cells, check any other editing activities in the list that are appropriate.

    Now you won’t be able to drag the picture from the cell. To edit the picture cells, click on Unprotect Sheet and enter the password.

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    Cells can contain data – that’s text or numeric values, but not images.

    If you bring an image into Excel, it will ‘float’ on top of the cells.

    Like so.

    Automatically ?

    By sliding the Alpha Scale at the top to the right or left is one way to expand or contract the length of the box(s)



    AND, Sliding the numerical scale up or down:


    If you want Specific Heights or Widths:

    • Select Format:

    Select Row Height or Column Width:

    If you’re interested, I created a project on GitHub that takes an image as an input and outputs an Excel spreadsheet where each cell of the spreadsheet matches the color of each pixel in the image. In other words, it turns an image like this:

    into this:

    Note that the resulting spreadsheet is zoomed way out so you can see the entire image.


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