Untether yourself! Excel shortcut keys can save you time. The mouse isn’t always the most efficient way to get things done. See that dusty CTRL key in the corner of your keyboard? It’s been waiting for you. Take advantage of it and start flying through your spreadsheets with Excel shortcut keys. You can use the time you save for more value-added work (or just take that well-deserved longer lunch).
Without further ado, the top 8 Excel shortcut keys:
1. Copy & Paste with CTRL-C and CTRL-V
Copying and pasting is core to working in Excel (a lot of software actually!). It’s done so often that the time you’ll save using the keyboard will really add up. Excel Pros are already doing this, but if you’re newer to the software and using the mouse try giving this a shot. These are by far the Excel shortcut keys I use the most.
2. Select Blocks of Data with Shift-End-Arrow
If you want to select a big contiguous block of data (to format it, copy/delete it, etc.) you have two options:
1) Use your mouse to highlight the area. For small sections this may make sense, but if you’re trying to grab 1,000’s of rows this method can leave you contemplating what you’re doing with your life as the data flicker by. Try not to zone out too much or you’ll overshoot the last row/column.
2) Use Excel shortcut keys! Go to the first cell of your data and:
- Hold Down Shift
- Hit End (and release)
- Hit Arrow Right (and release)
- Hit End (and release)
- Hit Arrow Down (and release)
- Release Shift
Note: “End” is telling Excel to go to the last cell before a blank. If your data has blanks and you want to push through, you can by using the arrow key and then by hitting end-arrow again (all while holding Shift).
Bonus Tip: You can use the same End-Arrow trick to get to the end of the data in a column or row. Just hit End and then Arrow in the direction of your choice.
3. Open up a Linked Excel File with CTRL-[ (Left Bracket)
Oh the tangled file paths we weave! If you’ve got a cell that’s referencing a closed workbook, you may want to open that workbook to:
- update the value
- understand what’s driving the value
There’s no need to manually start navigating through folders to get to the file’s location so you can open it. Just click on the cell with the link and use the hit CTRL-[. Boom.
4. Find (and Replace) with CTRL-F
Everybody’s looking for something. Find it a little faster (and then replace it) using the CTRL-F keyboard shortcut.
5. Grab an Entire Column with CTRL-Space (or Row with Shift-Space)
Granted it’s pretty easy to select an entire row or column using your mouse, but it’s just as easy using your keyboard and these two Excel shortcut keys will save you that little trip back and forth.
Bonus Tip: Combine the two and you’ll select everything on the worksheet.
6. Flip Between Worksheets with CTRL-PgUp and CTRL-PgDown
The more complex the Excel workbook, the more worksheets it’s apt to have. Cruise through your tabs with this shortcut.
Bonus Tip: Cycle between open workbooks with CTRL-Tab.
7. Highlight the Cells Used in a Formula with F2
F2 will highlight the cells driving the value in a selected cell. This is useful for tracking complex formulas as well as visually checking that you’re including the proper cells. Once highlighted, you can modify the cells included in the formula by dragging around the highlighted box (grab the corners to resize).
8. Finally, Undo with CTRL-Z
Even the best of us need to undo every once in a while. Erase the mistake fast with this shortcut (CTRL-Y if you change your mind!)
So there you have it, 8 Excel Shortcut Keys you can use to save time and maybe stave off carpal tunnel a bit longer. Got the shortcut bug and want more? Here’s a massive list from Microsoft.
How many of these are you using? Any others you’d care to share?
Want more Excel tips? Here you can learn how to generate random numbers.