As you spend more time getting familiar with Microsoft Excel, you may start to wonder if you can automate some of the more repetitive tasks or make navigating the software easier. Fortunately, there are a great number of shortcuts that you can use in Excel that can help you do just that and more. Knowing these shortcuts and implementing them in your everyday use will help you save time and optimize your workflow. 

Users who take advantage of these shortcuts often find them much more intuitive than constantly toggling a mouse. Those living with mobility or vision limitations will also appreciate shortcuts, as they can be easier to use than touchscreens. Whether you’re a student, data analyst, or someone who uses Excel on an irregular basis, you’ll likely form a shortlist of shortcuts that you use often. This tutorial will serve as an introduction to new Excel shortcuts that you can add to your wheelhouse, as well as a reference point so that you don’t have to memorize shortcuts that you may not use as frequently. 

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Applying Excel shortcuts

Before we get started, you should know that the shortcuts below are structured so that you know exactly how to type them in Excel. If you see a plus sign between the shortcut keys, it means you will have to press all of the buttons at the same time. If the plus sign is a part of the shortcut command, it will be enclosed in parentheses (+).” On the other hand, a comma (,) instructs you to press the shortcut keys in succession for it to work. 

Now that you understand why Excel shortcuts are worth learning and how to apply them, let’s take a look at some of the most important keyboard shortcuts in Excel. 

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Shortcuts for adding and deleting data and cells in Excel

How to add a new cell

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
CTRL + SHIFT + (+)COMMAND + UP (↑) + (+) 

The shortcut listed above allows you to add a new cell to your spreadsheet, depending on your operating system. If you frequently use Excel for data entry, you will want to take advantage of this shortcut to reduce the time you usually spend introducing a row, column, or single cell.

How to add a new line

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut

When you need to add a new line within a cell, the shortcuts above will help you do that with ease. The great thing about this shortcut is that it makes entering comments and longer paragraphs easy to do. Professionals who find themselves writing long text entries within their Excel spreadsheets will most likely use this shortcut every day. 

How to insert a comment 

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
SHIFT + F2FN +  UP (↑) + F2

Looking for a quick way to leave a note within a cell? This shortcut is your best solution. Using the shortcut keys associated with your operating system, you will be able to annotate a single cell with a pop-up note or edit an existing comment. You will find this helpful in times when you need to clarify the meaning of a value, explain a set formula, or any other warning to make your data easier to interpret.

How to add a hyperlink

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut

CTRL + K, or COMMAND + K for Mac users, makes it easy to apply hyperlinks to text within a cell. This one comes in handy when you need additional context behind a value or formula, as a hyperlink can easily connect a user to an external reference that offers a more detailed explanation. Be aware that clicking on a cell that contains a hyperlink will automatically pull up a browser and load the page.

How to populate a cell with data from the left

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
CTRL + RUP (↑) + R

Those who work with large sets of redundant data can make good use of this shortcut. It works by automatically filling in data from the cell to the left of the one you select. It can also repeat across the entire row if necessary. With one less step, this shortcut is a good alternative to manually copying and pasting within the spreadsheet. Try it out the next time you use the data validation tool. 

How to automatically fill a cell with data from above

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
CTRL + DUP (↑) + D

If you ever need to fill a cell with data from the cell above, this keyboard shortcut is the quickest way to do it. It works very similarly to the previous shortcut we learned, and they both help make data entry a whole lot easier. 

How to input data in multiple cells

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut

What this shortcut does is fill a selected cell range with user input. This is great to use when you plan to fill an entire row or column with identical text and want to spend less time copying and pasting cell by cell. The first step is selecting the range of cells where you want to type. With that selected, you can now type what you want to repeat in multiple cells and use the keys associated with your device to apply it to the entire selection. Note that you can also use this shortcut to complete an entry within the same cell — simply type the keys without selecting a range of cells to do this. 

How to create a chart

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
F11FN + F11

This speedy shortcut key converts data from any specified range into a bar graph. The graph will automatically populate in a separate worksheet tab, so you don’t have to worry about Excel rearranging your existing spreadsheet. Those who regularly work with metrics such as sales, revenue, and inventory should learn this shortcut. 

How to create a table

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
CTRL + TUP (↑) + T

Most Excel users use its spreadsheets to create tables, so everyone can benefit from this essential shortcut that automatically adds a table to the worksheet. Similar to using a shortcut to create a chart, these keys convert a selected range into a table. After highlighting the preferred cells and converting them into a table, Excel will automatically present some formatting options (e.g., adding a header row, filter button, or total row) and table styles with different color combinations.

How to create a new worksheet

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
SHIFT + F11FN + UP (↑) + F11

This shortcut is most practical for those who work on bigger projects. It’s a faster alternative than hitting the “insert worksheet” button every time you want to open a new worksheet.

Shortcuts for selecting data and cells

Some shortcut keys will let you quickly select multiple cells instead of doing the classic drag, drop, and click. You can find a few below.

How to extend a section

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
F8FN + F8

This shortcut key makes a precise selection using arrow keys. Simply press the key, or keys if you’re working on a Mac,  and select the arrow keys in the direction of your selection. You may select a single row or multiple rows horizontally or vertically.

How to switch to the next worksheet

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
CTRL + PageUpFN + ^ + UP (↑)

Instead of toggling between different worksheets using the buttons on the bottom, pressing these keys will automatically pull up the following worksheet. It is especially useful with larger projects with 10+ tabs being used at any given one time for intensive data analysis.

How to switch to the previous worksheet

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
CTRL + PageDownFN + ^ + DOWN (↓)

Like the shortcut mentioned above, this one automatically pulls up the previous worksheet. This one is also useful to use with big projects with numerous tabs.

How to display the find and replace dialog box

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut

When pouring through large spreadsheets with tons of data, the Find and Replace Dialog box is super convenient. Hit this shortcut key, and a dialog box opens with the option to find or replace values within the open sheet or the entire workbook. You also can search by rows and columns or perform searches for formulas, values, notes, and comments.

How to select a table

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut

This shortcut selects all of the cell contents within a table. This is very useful when copying and pasting large data sets.

How to show all formulas

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
CTRL + (+) + ~CTRL + (+) + `

Use this shortcut key to pull up all of the formulas used in the worksheet. It is a great choice if you are unfamiliar with a spreadsheet or working on someone else’s spreadsheet.

Formatting and editing data and cells

If you’re sharing a spreadsheet with others, it’s important to make sure that the data is presented in a way that makes sense to everyone who reads it. The following keys will make formatting and editing data within Excel quick and straightforward.

How to edit or format a cell

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut
F2^ + U

Simply put, this keyboard shortcut lets you edit and format cells. 

How to display the formatting dialog box

Windows shortcutmacOS shortcut

This shortcut pulls up the “Format Cells” dialog box. You can format cells in different ways, such as a specific number format (e.g., expressed as a percentage or a fraction), alignment (e.g., centering and right indentation), font style, border style, fill style, and protection, which ‘locks up’ the cell to prevent it from being edited. This is particularly useful for more sensitive data.

Data formatting shortcuts

The following shortcuts work to format data cells to a specific type in both Windows and macOS:

Shortcuts for formatting cells

There are also many shortcuts to format cells, performing everything from inserting a note to inserting blank cells. Note that some of Windows’ preexisting shortcuts may not be available for macOS.

ShortcutWindows macOS
Formats fontsCTRL + Shift + F(^) + (↑) + F
Edits the active cellF2(^) + U
Adds a threaded commentShift + F2FN + (↑) + F2
Opens a threaded commentCTRL + Shift + F2
Deletes the selected cells using the Delete dialog boxCTRL + (-)CTRL + (-)
Adds the current timeCTRL + Shift + (:)COMMAND + (;)
Adds today’s dateCTRL + (;)(^) + (;)
Toggles between showing formulas or cell valuesCTRL + (`)(^) + (`)
Moves selected cells to other cellsCTRL + XCOMMAND + X
Copies selected cell contentsCTRL + CCOMMAND + C
Pastes selected cell contentsCTRL + VCOMMAND + V
Opens the Paste Special dialog boxCTRL + Alt + VCOMMAND + (^) + V
Removes or adds italicized textCTRL + I or CTRL + 3COMMAND + I
Removes or adds bold formattingCTRL + B or CTRL + 2COMMAND + B
Removes or adds an underlineCTRL + U or CTRL + 4COMMAND + U
Works strikethrough formattingCTRL + 5COMMAND + (^) + X
Toggles between showing placeholders displaying, or hiding objects in the worksheetCTRL + 6(^) + 6
Applies an outline border from chosen cellsCTRL + Shift + (&)COMMAND + (⌥) + 0
Removes outline border from chosen cellsCTRL + Shift + (_)COMMAND + (⌥) + (_)
Shows or removes the outline symbolsCTRL + 8(^) + 8
Copies and pastes the contents of a highlighted cell into a selected range of cells belowCTRL + D(^) + D
Applies the General Number formatCTRL + Shift + (~)(^) + (↑) + (~)
Applies the Currency format (two decimal places)CTRL + Shift + ($)(^) + (↑) + ($)
Applies the Percentage format (no decimal places)CTRL + Shift + (%)(^) + (↑) + (%)
Applies the Scientific number format (two decimal places)CTRL + Shift + (^)(^) + (↑) + (^)
Applies the Date format (day, month, year)CTRL + Shift + (#)(^) + (↑) + (#)
Applies the Time format (hour, minute, AM, PM)CTRL + Shift + (@)(^) + (↑) + (@)
Spell-checker (entire worksheet or selected range)F7FN + F7
Opens “Quick Analysis,” which automatically highlights an entire cell range and presents formatting, charting, and table options, including conditional formatting with rules.CTRL + Q
Opens Workbook Statistics.CTRL + Shift + G

Miscellaneous Shortcut Keys

Here are some of the more frequently used and simpler shortcuts for general workbook navigation.

ShortcutWindows shortcutmacOS shortcut
Closes a WorkbookCTRL + WCOMMAND + W
Opens a WorkbookCTRL + OCOMMAND + O

Reverts to the Home tab
Alt + H
Saves all of the data in the worksheetCTRL + SCOMMAND + S
Undo selected dataCTRL + ZCOMMAND + Z
Removes the contents of a cellDeleteDelete
Chooses a fill color for the selected cellAlt + H , H
Aligns cell contents in the centerAlt + H , A , CCOMMAND + E
Navigates to the View tabAlt + W
Open context menuShift + F10Shift + F10
Navigates to Formula tabAlt + M
Hides chosen rowsCTRL + 9(^) + 9
Hides chosen columnsCTRL + 0(^) + 0

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What are ribbon keyboard shortcuts?

The navigation ribbon also shows related options on tabs. To view all of the ribbon shortcuts for different options, press the Alt key. You will find small letters enclosed within squares that appear next to the tabs. Simply press on the letter to navigate between the different tabs and options.

You can combine different letter keys with the Alt keys to produce Access Keys, which are shortcuts to all of the different ribbon options. For example, you may press Alt+H to open the Home tab and press Alt+ M to merge and center the contents within a cell or selected cell range.

What are the different access keys for ribbon tabs?

Here are some of the most helpful access keys to navigate directly to a ribbon tab using Excel for Windows.

ShortcutWindows Why It’s Useful
Opens the File pageCTRL + SHIFT + 1You can easily select previously saved workbooks.
Opens the Home tabAlt + HIt helps you find popular tools like wrapping text, formatting data as a table, or sorting and filtering a column.
Opens the Insert tabAlt + NThis tab allows you to enter more complex spreadsheet presentation options such as pivot tables, pivot charts, slicers, and hyperlinks.
Opens the Page Layout tabAlt + PThe page layout tab allows you to work with various formatting options, such as orientation (setting to portrait or landscape), margins, page size, printing, and scaling.

Now that you know some shortcuts, you should have no trouble applying them to make some of the more advanced Excel skills even more manageable.

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