A Guide to 38 Shortcut Keys for Excel

March 6, 2019 • Shannon Flynn


Microsoft Excel is a fantastic tool for organizing data sets, keeping track of budgets or even tracking business growth over a period. While it is a versatile program, manually typing each of the commands can add hours to an otherwise short project.

Excel shortcuts can help make the program even more useful by allowing you to create a comprehensive spreadsheet with just a few keystrokes.

Here’s a list of some of the best shortcut keys for Excel, as well as some instructions to help you make custom shortcuts if the ones built into the program just don’t cut it.

Table of Contents

  • Movement Shortcuts
  • Selection Shortcuts
  • Editing Shortcuts
  • Formatting Shortcuts
  • Writing Custom Shortcuts

Since most of the file and data shortcut keys for Excel are standard across most programs — such as Ctrl/Cmd + C for copy or Ctrl/Cmd + V for paste — we’re going to skip these in favor of some more Excel-specific shortcuts. We will feature the alternatives for both Mac and Windows computers. Shortcuts that only have one set of key commands will work on both systems unless otherwise indicated.

Many of these shortcuts may work on other free Excel clone programs like Google Sheets or Apache OpenOffice, but make sure you test them first.

Movement Shortcuts

The arrow keys control the movement between the cells in Excel. Pressing Ctrl and an arrow key on either Mac or Windows computers will move to the next full cell on a spreadsheet. On a Windows computer, the Home key will move to the beginning of a row. On a Mac, you will need to press the Function (FN) key and the left arrow key. Other quick movement shortcut keys for Excel include:

  • Ctrl + End / Fn + Ctrl + Right will move you to the last cell in a spreadsheet.
  • Ctrl + Home / Fn + Ctrl + Left will move you to the first cell in the spreadsheet.
  • Alt + PgDn / Fn + Option + Up will let you scroll one screen to the right.
  • Alt + PgUp / Fn + Option + Down will let you scroll one screen to the left.
  • PgUp / Fn + Up will scroll up one screen.
  • PgDn / Fn + Down will scroll down one screen.
  • End / Fn + Right will end the movement.

Selection Shortcuts

Here is where the shortcuts start getting a little bit complicated.

  • Ctrl + G will let you go to a specific cell.
  • Ctrl/Cmd + A will let you select the entire spreadsheet.
  • Shift + Space will select the entire highlighted row.
  • Ctrl + Space will select the highlighted column.
  • Ctrl + Shift + * / Ctrl+ Shift +Space will select the current region.
  • Ctrl + / will select the current array.
  • Ctrl + Shift + { will select all precedents or cells that are dependent on one another.
  • Ctrl + ] will select the direct dependents of the cell.
  • Ctrl + Shift + } will select all dependents.
  • Alt + ; / Cmd + Shift + Z will select only the visible cells on the spreadsheet.
  • Shift + Click will add cells to the currently highlighted selection.
  • Ctrl/Cmd + Click will add individual cells to the currently highlighted selection.

Editing Shortcuts

It’s easy to make mistakes when editing the formulas within a cell. These shortcuts can make it easier to avoid those mistakes and make your monthly Excel calendar easier to manage.

  • F2 / Ctrl + U will allow you to edit the active cell.
  • Esc will cancel your entry.
  • Alt + Enter / Ctrl + Option + Return will create a new line within the cell.
  • Ctrl +; will enter the current date in the cell.
  • Ctrl + Shift +: will insert the current time in the highlighted cell.
  • Ctrl + D will fill the highlighted cell with data from the cell above it.
  • Ctrl + R will fill the highlighted cell with data from the cell to the left.
  • Ctrl + ‘ will fill the formula from the cell above.
  • Ctrl/Cmd + K will add a hyperlink to the cell.
  • Alt/Option + Down Arrow will display autocomplete options.

Formatting Shortcuts

There are quite a few formatting options for Excel, so we’re going to stick to the program-specific ones and leave out the formatting options that work in other Microsoft programs. These shortcuts are useful for creating everything from budgets to drop-down lists.

  • Ctrl/Cmd + 1 will open the formatting dialogue.
  • F4 / Ctrl + Y will re-apply the chosen formatting.
  • Ctrl + Shift + ~ will format the cell as general data.
  • Ctrl + Shift + $ will format the cell as currency.
  • Ctrl +Shift + % will format the cell as a percentage.
  • Ctrl + Shift + ^ will format the cell as a scientific data point.
  • Ctrl + Shift + # will format the cell as a date.
  • Ctrl + Shift + @ will format the cell as a time.
  • Ctrl + Shift + ! will format the cell as a number.

Writing Custom Shortcuts

Unlike Microsoft Word, Excel will not let you edit the built-in shortcuts to create your own. That doesn’t mean you can’t create macro shortcuts — just that it is a little more complicated.

Start by choosing File > Options. In this menu, you will see a Customize Ribbon option — these ribbons are your macro shortcuts. Click the developer tab, and you’ll see a button that says Record Macro.

When you record a macro, the program will store your keystrokes, so if you need to plug in a formula or a specific command, you can do so now. When the macro is complete, the program will ask you to assign a shortcut key to it, with Ctrl or Command and a series of other keys. Be careful which keys you choose, though — you can override shortcut keys, so make sure you’re not accidentally replacing shortcuts you regularly use, like Ctrl + Z for undo.

If you use Excel every day, these shortcuts can make your life easier and your workday more productive. Take time to search through them to find the commands you use daily and see where you can make some changes.