How To Simulate Dynamic Pop-Up Menus In Numbers

A point of frustration with Numbers users is that Pop-Up Menu cells must be populated with a list of typed values. Often it is useful to get these values from another table instead. While there is no easy solution, you can simulate a dynamic pop-up with a special technique that involves creating the Pop-Up Menu in the second table and pasting it into the first. This method requires a manual update of the Pop-Up Menus when the selections change, but can handle large lists.

Video Transcript
Here's something commonly asked about Numbers. How can you use Pop-Up menus that are automatically populated with values from another table? For instance, here I've got table where I'm going to put a bunch of items and I have a list of items. It would be nice to have a Pop-Up menu that picked from this list of items.

Now I can click on this cell here and can change the data format under Format, Cell, and then Data Format. I can change it to a pop-up menu. It gives me item 1, item 2, item 3. I can change those and I can add to those but I don't want to have to retype this list. Imagine if this list is 50 items long. I don't want to retype it. The weird thing is that you can't even copy and paste from here into this list. So it's very annoying. So how can I get a nice list in this pop-up menu that mirrors what's in table 2 here.

Well, there's a way to do it. It's a little bit of a trick and it's a very odd way to start. You want to select all these items here and change the data format of these items to pop-up menu. Now this doesn't seem like it's anything close to what we want to do. We don't want these to be pop-up menus. We want this one to be. But once you change these to a pop-up menu you can Copy and Paste. Changing these to a pop-up menu with these selected will actually pre-populate the menu with those items.

So here's those items instead of item 1, item 2, item 3. I can also change the format here and start with blank which seems more appropriate. I can now Copy one of these and Paste it in all of these cells. Let's actually just paste it in the first cell here because it's going to not only paste that it's a pop-up menu but also that it has this first item, apple, selected. So I'm going to change this selection to None. So now I'm going to copy this and paste it into all these cells.

Now these are all pop-up menus that have everything in them. But it's not dynamic. It's not pulling from here. So, if I were to add another one and let's do that. But first let's change these back from pop-up menu to automatic so these are normal again. If I add another one it's not going to appear in this list. This list isn't pulling from here it's just its own thing right now. So, how can you do this?

Well, let's say this whole list is filled up. I'll just do the last two here but everything is filled up. Now it's time to add a new one but it's going to be pineapple now which I've just added to this table. So I'm going to add a new row here. I've added pineapple. I'm going to do the same thing here I did before. I'm going to change to Pop-Up menu, start with a blank, I'm going to Copy and Paste it in here, and I'm going to change to None. Notice that pineapple is available.

Now this can be fine. This could be like moving forward they all have pineapple and from before this they don't. Maybe that's all you need. But there is a way to get this all updated. I can select all of these, and notice where under Format, Cell, Data Format it's pop-up menu for all these but it says The selected cells can contain different pop-up menu items. Merge menu items. Yes, please. Do that and now pineapple is available on all of these. So I can change anyone of these to pineapple. Remember to go back to these and change back to automatic.

It's not a perfect system. It won't work if you're always updating these. If you're always adding new ones to these it's not going to be great. It will work if you occasionally update these. Like maybe this is a list of students in a classroom and maybe once a year you have to add one or remove a person or something like that. It will work fine for that. Or if you have an inventory and once a month you add a few new items to the list. The you could redo this. It only takes a minute and then you have a pop-up menu for everything. So it's really handy.

Another thing to consider is the fact that you don't even need to have this other table here. If you have all of your items in place here you can create a pop-up menu the same way I did here. If an item is there multiple times, like I have apricot here twice, it's not going to include it in the list twice. It's only going to include it once. So you have the ability to do that without this second table if you don't need it.

But it's a handy trick to be able to go and, you know, put together a pop-up menu list from a second table if you need it.

Comments: One Response to “How To Simulate Dynamic Pop-Up Menus In Numbers”

    Brenda Brooks
    7/21/18 @ 10:12 am

    Thanks for this video, I had forgotten how useful Pop-Up menus can be.

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