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I would like to find out which cells have formula dependencies in a large spreadsheet. I am looking for a way to do something like OpenOffice

Tools>Detective>Trace dependents


Edit>Find & Replace>Search in formulas

or a way to create a trigger in GAS that gets called when a given cell value is referenced and can identify the source of the reference.

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1 Answer 1

The following code will add a menu to the Spreadsheet:

Detective > Trace Dependents

Selecting this will add a note to the active cell with all dependent cell references.

You could add a similar function to the traceDependents function to search for the text within the active cell for a Search in Formulas function. I'll leave that as an exercise for you.

function onOpen() {
  var ss = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet();
  var menuEntries = []
  menuEntries.push({name: "Trace Dependents", functionName: "traceDependents"});
  ss.addMenu("Detective", menuEntries);

function traceDependents(){
  var dependents = []
  var ss = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet();
  var currentCell = ss.getActiveCell();
  var currentCellRef = currentCell.getA1Notation();;
  var range = ss.getDataRange();

  var regex = new RegExp("\\b" + currentCellRef + "\\b")
  var formulas = range.getFormulas();

  for (var i = 0; i < formulas.length; i++){
    var row = formulas[i];

    for (var j = 0; j < row.length; j++){
      var cellFormula = row[j];
      if (regex.test(cellFormula)){

  var dependentRefs = [];
  for (var k = 0; k < dependents.length; k ++){
    var rowNum = dependents[k][0] + 1;
    var colNum = dependents[k][1] + 1;
    var cell = range.getCell(rowNum, colNum);
    var cellRef = cell.getA1Notation();
  var output = "Dependents: ";
  if(dependentRefs.length > 0){
    output += dependentRefs.join(", ");
  } else {
    output += " None";
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This is terrific. I think you can remove the extra line: var output = "Dependents: "; –  jaredcohe Nov 9 '13 at 22:23
Well caught. I have removed it. Thanks for the eagle eyes. –  Tom Horwood Nov 10 '13 at 13:04
I like this very much! Do I see it correctly that it doesn't support Named Ranges, though? And if that is the case, would it be simple/complicated to add support? –  Wizek Apr 6 at 12:50

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