Going through the standard procedure to complete every little task in Excel can be very tedious. If you use Excel on a regular basis, you could save yourself hours of unnecessary searching and clicking by simply learning some of the most important Excel shortcut keys (also known as “hotkeys”). While it may seem like a lot of work to put them to memory now, you’ll be thanking us later!
That said, there are a lot of Excel shortcut keys, so memorizing them all may be too much of a bother for many casual Excel users. Moreover, a lot of the less common hotkeys are not all that useful to most people. Fortunately, we’re here to help! In today’s guide, we will go over all of the most common Excel shortcut keys and provide you with a cheat sheet that you can return to whenever you need it. So, let’s get started!
What Is An Excel Shortcut Key?
Before we start naming all of the Excel shortcut keys we think you should know, it’s important to define what we’re actually talking about. A shortcut key is just a combination of keystrokes that executes a specific action. Your PC or Mac already has hundreds of shortcut keys. For example, if you want to copy and paste something in Windows, you can just press CTRL + C (copy) and then CTRL + V (paste). The process is pretty similar in macOS: Command + C (copy) and then Command + V (paste).
While the copy and paste command also works in Excel, there are plenty of other shortcut keys that fulfill actions that are much more specific to using spreadsheets. These can accomplish a wide range of tasks, from organizing values within a column to combining multiple rows into one. Though you probably won’t need to use every single Excel shortcut key in this guide, we guarantee that a few of these will really come in handy!
Common Excel Shortcut Keys
Now that you know what to expect, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common Excel shortcut keys, how to use them in Windows, and what they actually do:
- New Workbook – (CTRL + N) – Rather than going through menus to open a new page or workbook, you can open a brand new workbook with this quick, two-key shortcut.
- Save – (CTRL + S) – With Excel, you should always save frequently. Using this shortcut let’s you quickly save without navigating away from your spreadsheet.
- Save As – (CTRL + SHIFT + S) – Save your spreadsheet and name the file.
- Toggle Ribbon – (CTRL + F1) – The ribbon tab in Excel displays a wide range of tools that you can use to edit and format your spreadsheet. Toggle the ribbon tab to bring it up when you need it and turn it off when you just want to focus on your spreadsheet.
- Paste Special – (CTRL + ALT + V) – Copy data from one source and have it automatically changed to the correct format when you paste it into Excel.
- Select Row – (SHIFT + SPACE) – Select an entire row to make quick edits.
- Select Column – (CTRL + SPACE) – Select a entire column to make quick edits.
- Close Workbook – (CTRL + W) – Close your current workbook — just make sure you save your work first!
- Move to Next Sheet – (CTRL + PageDown) – Move to the next spreadsheet in your workbook.
- Move to Previous Sheet – (CTRL + PageUp) – Move to the previous spreadsheet in your workbook.
- Go to Data Tab – (ALT + A) – Open the data tab.
- Go to View Tab – (ALT + W) – Open the view tab.
- Go to Formula Tab – (ALT + M) – Open the formula tab.
- Go to Home Tab – (ALT + H) – Open the home tab.
- Go to Insert Tab – (ALT + N) – Open the insert tab.
- Go to Page Layout Tab – (ALT + P) – Open the page layout tab.
- Undo – (CTRL + Z) – If you make a mistake, quickly undo your most recent action.
- Redo – (CTRL + Y) – If you accidentally undo an action by mistake, redo your last action.
- Cancel – (ESC) – Cancel your most recent addition in a cell or formula bar.
- Copy Selection – (CTRL + C) – Copy the selection of values to be pasted somewhere else.
- Cut Selection – (CTRL + X) – Quickly cut out or delete a selection of values.
- Paste Selection – (CTRL + V) – Paste a previously copied selection of values.
- Select All – (CTRL + SHIFT + SPACE) – Select all of the same object you currently have selected.
- Insert Cell – (CTRL + SHIFT + +) – Open the dialog box to insert a new cell with the correct values.
- Insert Row – (ALT + I + R) – Insert a new row in your spreadsheet.
- Insert Column – (CTRL + SHIFT + +) – Open the dialog box to insert a new column with the correct values.
- Delete Selection – (CTRL + DELETE) – Remove the selected cell, row, or column from your spreadsheet.
- Merge Cells – (CTRL + M) – Combine all of the selected cells into one cell.
- Apply Border – (CTRL + SHIFT + &) – Add borders to the selected cells.
- Remove Border – (CTRL + SHIFT + _) – Remove the borders from the selected cells.
- AutoSum – (ALT + =) – Automatically sum the values in the selected cells.
- Strikethrough – (CTRL + 5) – Apply strikethrough formatting to the selected text.
- Bold – (CTRL + 2) – Apply bold formatting to the selected text.
- Italic – (CTRL + 3) – Apply italic formatting to the selected text.
- Underline – (CTRL + 4) – Apply underlined formatting to the selected text.
- Highlight Cells – (ALT + H + H) – Apply colored highlights to the selected cells.
- Insert a Hyperlink – (CTRL + K) – Open the dialog box to insert a hyperlink.
- Insert a Return Character – (ALT + ENTER) – Add a return character (or carriage return), pushing the data in front of the selected cells down to a new row.
- Fill Down – (CTRL + D) – Copy the selected data into the cells below.
- Fill Right – (CTRL + R) – Copy the selected data into the cells to the right.
- Find & Replace – (CTRL + H) – Find the data to be replaced with new text.
- Print – (CTRL + P) – Prepare your current worksheet to print.
Combining Multiple Shortcuts in Excel
The Excel shortcut keys outlined above will allow you to do many of the most common actions in Excel much more quickly. However, if you want to get even more out of these shortcuts, you can combine and use more than one of them at a time. For example, if you want to quickly move through cells, you can use CTRL + Arrow Keys (Up, Down, Left, and Right). To select cells on the go, you can simply add SHIFT to this combination (CTRL + SHIFT + Arrow Keys).
It is also helpful to use combined shortcut keys when you’re doing very repetitive actions. The “ALT” command is often the foundation of repetitive commands, particularly if you want to use actions accessed through the home tab (ALT + H). Here are a few common and useful formatting examples:
- Paste Values Only – ALT + H + V + V
- Paste Formula Only – ALT + H + V + F
- Align Left – ALT + H + A + L
- Align Center – ALT + H + A + C
- Align Right – ALT + H + A + R
Though this is not a comprehensive list of every single Excel shortcut key in existence, the shortcuts in this guide are more than enough to get you started. As you get accustomed to using shortcuts and hotkeys in Excel, you’ll realize how much time you’ve been wasting doing everything manually. Now, you can start saving yourself time and learning even more of the hundreds of shortcuts available in Excel!
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