Save time with the best Excel shortcuts

This is the first blog in a series of three to help you save time when working in Excel:

  1. Save time with the best Excel shortcuts (this blog)
  2. Save time with the Quick Access Toolbar
  3. Complete Excel tasks in a second

You can get lots of things done quicker in Excel if you use keyboard shortcuts. Learn the best ones here.

 

What are the best Excel shortcuts?

I'm glad you asked! There are hundreds of shortcuts in total, but you can't learn them all, and many are for actions which you rarely perform. Therefore focus on the best ones.

Here is my list, organised by category to help you find the ones you need more easily.

 

INPUT and EDIT

Key combination

Action

Description / comment

Ctrl Enter

Multiple input

Value or formula is input in all selected cells

Ctrl Shift ;

Input today's date

 

F2

Edit mode

Formula can be edited, precedents are marked in colour

F3

Call up range names

During the input of a formula, range names can be called up for selection

F4 (when entering or editing a formula)

Fix the row or column of a cell

Press repeatedly to cycle through the four variations: row and column with $ fixed, only row, only column, neither fixed

 

NAVIGATE

Key combination

Action

Description / comment

Ctrl Home

Go to home cell on sheet

Cell A1 or the first cell below frozen rows/columns

Ctrl End

Go to last cell on sheet

If there are many empty rows/columns above/left of this cell, delete these (after backing up your file) to reduce the file size

Ctrl Arrow (left, right,
up or down)

Go to end of row/column block

 

Ctrl Page up or down

Select sheet to the
left or right

Also works when you are writing a formula to select a cell on another sheet

Alt Page up or down

Show section to the
left or right

Also works when you are writing a formula to select a cell in another area

F5 or Ctrl G

GoTo cell or
special cells

1) Input cell reference and select "OK" or press Enter
2) Use "Special" to go to special cells

Ctrl Tab or
Ctrl Shift Tab

Go to next workbook

Also works when you are writing a formula to select a cell in another workbook

 

CALCULATE
(when calculation option is set to manual)

Key combination

Action

Description / comment

F2 then Enter

Calculate selected cell

 

Shift F9

Calculate sheet

 

F9

Calculate all open workbooks

 

 

COPY and PASTE, INSERT and DELETE

Key combination

Action

Description / comment

Ctrl C

Copy

 

Ctrl X

Cut

 

Ctrl V

Paste

After copying or cutting, can be used multiple times

Ctrl D

Copy down

 

Ctrl R

Copy to the right

 

Ctrl +

Insert cells, rows or columns

If appropriate, select row(s) or column(s) first

Ctrl -

Delete cells, rows or columns

If appropriate, select row(s) or column(s) first

 

FIND, SELECT and HIDE

Key combination

Action

Description / comment

Ctrl F

Find

 

Ctrl H

Replace

 

Ctrl A

Select block of data

Press Ctrl A again to select the whole worksheet

Shift Spacebar

Select row(s)

 

Ctrl Spacebar

Select column(s)

 

Ctrl Shift Arrow (left, right, up or down)

Go to end of row/ column block and select

Variations can be used one after the other, e.g. select to the left, then downwards

Ctrl 0 (zero)

Hide selected column

 

Ctrl 9

Hide selected row

 

 

FORMAT

Key combination

Action

Description / comment

Ctrl 1

Format cell(s)

Shows the format cells dialogue

Ctrl !

Format as value

With thousand markers and two decimal places

Ctrl $

Format as currency

With thousand markers and two decimal places

Ctrl %

Format as percent

With no decimal places

Ctrl &

Add outline

 

Ctrl #

Format as date

Month is shown as shortened word (Jan, Feb etc.)

Ctrl B

Format bold

Use key combination again to reverse the formatting

Ctrl I

Format italics

Use key combination again to reverse the formatting

Ctrl U

Underline

Use key combination again to reverse the formatting

 

OTHER

Key combination

Action

Description / comment

Ctrl P

Print

Works in all MS-Office applications

Ctrl S

Save file

Works in all MS-Office applications

Ctrl Z

Undo

Works in all MS-Office applications

F4 or Ctrl Y

Repeat

Repeats last action. Works in all MS-Office applications

Ctrl Shift `

View formulas

Use key combination again to return to normal view

F11 or Alt F1

Quick Chart

Select a block of numbers then use the shortcut --> a graph appears on a new sheet (F11) or on the same sheet (Alt F1)

Alt =

Auto sum

Creates a formula for the sum of the values above the cell (by default) or to the left of the cell (if there are no values above)

 

My favourite function is not listed - does it have a shortcut?

There is a simple way to find out… hover over an item on a ribbon until a tooltip with extra information appears. If there is a keyboard shortcut, Excel reveals what this is in brackets.

Shown above are two examples: Autosum (Alt =) and Show Formulas (Ctrl ´).

Confusingly Excel also shows you a plus sign which just means you must press the other keys at the same time, not that you must also press the + key.

 

There are so many, how can I learn them?

Don't try to learn all the shortcuts (there are hundreds in total) focus on those which are of most use to you.

 

Can I get a summary of the best shortcut to print out?

You sure can! You can download a free one-pager of the best Excel shortcuts to print out and use here:
https://www.how2excel.com/en/downloads-2/

 

No shortcut available or you are a mouse fan 🐭 ?

For tasks where no shortcut is available, or if you prefer to use the mouse, make sure you amend your Quick Access Toolbar so mouse-based tools that you use regularly are lined up ready to use and always visible (no mouse clicks needed to show them!)

My blog on the Quick Access Toolbar explains all you need to know.