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How to Trace Dependents in Google Sheets (2024 Update)

May 8, 2024

How to Trace Dependents in Google Sheets

Currently, Google Sheets does not have a built-in feature for tracing dependents and precedents directly, similar to what Excel offers. However, there are alternative methods and tools you can use to trace these relationships in your Google Sheets: 

Formula Bar

Using the formula bar involves manually clicking on each cell reference in the formula bar of a given cell. Doing so highlights all the precedents of the formula, showing you which cells are being referenced.

trace dependents google sheets

Find and Replace Tool

By using the Find and Replace tool, you can search for specific cell references across your sheet to identify their dependents. This method requires you to run multiple searches with different variations to be comprehensive.

Suppose you want to find all cells that are dependent on cell C2.

Press Ctrl + H (or Cmd + Shift + H on Mac) to open the Find and Replace tool. In the Find field, enter C2. Ensure you select "Also search within formulas" and "All sheets" if necessary.

Click “Find” to locate all instances where C2 is referenced. This process will highlight all cells where C2 is a precedent.

google sheets trace dependents

Google Apps Script or Add-Ons

For a more automated and efficient process, you can use Google Apps Script or a dedicated add-on like SheetWhiz. This approach is faster and more comprehensive, especially for large and complex sheets. 

how to trace dependents in google sheets

While the first two methods are more manual and can be time-consuming, they are built into Google Sheets and do not require additional installations. The third option, although it requires installing an add-on or writing a script, offers a more efficient and user-friendly approach to tracing cell dependencies.

To use SheetWhiz for tracing dependents in Google Sheets:

1. Install SheetWhiz

Add it from the Chrome store to your browser and allow the necessary permissions. 

trace dependents in google sheets

2. Open Spreadsheet

Navigate to the Google Sheets document you want to analyze.

Here, we have our sample spreadsheet with the SheetWhiz extension added: 

google sheets how to trace dependents

3. Activate SheetWhiz 

Use Ctrl + Shift + ] (PC) or Control + Shift + ] (Mac) to start tracing dependents.

4. Review Dependents

A window will show the current cell and its dependents. Use arrow keys for navigation.

how to trace dependents google sheets

5. Close Window

Press Esc to exit the dependents list.

We hope that this article has helped you and given you a better understanding of how to trace dependents in Google Sheets. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our articles on how to use DSUM in Google Sheets and how to change the default font in Google Sheets.

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