Navigate efficiently in Excel

You can work more efficiently in Excel if you can navigate effectively. With regular practice of the methods I explain below, you too can become an expert in Excel navigation!

Navigation in and around Excel can be divided into three main task areas. You can perform all three types of task with the mouse, but using the keyboard is usually more efficient, largely because you need to perform less steps than with the mouse.

  1. Navigate between open applications / documents
  • Alt + Tab --> cycle between all open applications / documents

  • Windows key + Tab --> shows all open applications / documents. Select one with the mouse or use the arrow keys to highlight the desired application / document and then press enter to select it

  • Ctrl + Tab (in Excel) --> cycle between all open workbooks
  1. Navigate between worksheets
  • Ctrl + Page Up or Down --> move from one worksheet to the next

  • (Mouse) Use the arrow buttons in the lower left corner of Excel  to shift the worksheet tabs in view; Press Ctrl at the same time to show the first or last worksheets

  • Right-click on these arrow buttons to get a list of all worksheets in the model, click to jump

  • If you have my toolKCit installed, use the button “List all sheet names” to create a new sheet with easy-to-use hypertext links

    Tip: my toolKCit contains this and 18 other useful tools - buy it at eloquens and use the discount code HOW2EXCEL to get 50% off

  • Use range names:
    • Define: select cell(s) then type a range name, without blanks, in the name box below the toolbar e.g.
    • Use: Click on the name box down arrow, click on a name to jump there
  1. Navigate within a worksheet
  • Ctrl + Home --> select “home cell”

  • Ctrl + End --> select “end cell”; if this is wrong i.e. includes many blank rows or columns then delete these and save the file to reduce the file size and possibly improve the calculation speed

  • Alt + Page Up or Down --> move left or right, a screen at a time

  • Use the arrow keys

Arrow key alone

With Ctrl

With Shift

With Ctrl + Shift

Move to the next cell

Move to the end of a cell block or to the next non-empty cell

Move and mark cells

Move in a block and also mark the cell range

  • Ctrl + A or Ctrl + * --> select a complete block of cells

  • You can also use many of these tips in Word

Have fun navigating!

PS. You can download this blog as a handy PDF here