Excel Alt key Shortcuts

Short video at bottom of post

The Alt key offers a way to use icons without using the mouse. In some cases, these Alt key shortcuts can be quicker than using the mouse.

When you press the Alt key (the one on the left of the Space Bar) you will see a series of letters and numbers appear above the ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar – see the image below.

Note you just press the Alt key, don’t hold it down.

These letters and numbers allow you to access whatever icon they are above.

If I press 1 I would save the file as the Save icon is the first icon one on my Quick Access Toolbar (the toolbar below the ribbon).

If I press H, I open the Home ribbon and all its icons have a letter/number above it – see image below.

If you press W you apply the Wrap Text format Alt H W. Note these keys are all pressed in sequence, not held down.

The Alt key also offers other shortcuts – see example below.

A solution to a problem

I had a repetitive process to perform for a reporting task. It involved filtering a table and excluding blanks. To do this with the mouse takes a few clicks and a long scroll down because the (Blanks) option is always at the bottom of a list in the filter dialog.

This made me think of seeing whether I could do this with the Alt key.

So here is the sequence that excludes blanks from the filter.

  1. Select the heading cell in the column to filter.
  2. Hold the Alt key down and press the down arrow. This opens the filter dialog.
  3. Press F this enables the Filter selection. The letter F is underlined hence when you press F it activates that option.
  4. Press the down arrow and then press Enter.
  5. Press Enter.

The key sequence is

Alt + down arrow


Down arrow



You can perform that key combination very quickly without needing to look at the screen.

In the video below I do it at normal speed and then I do it at a slower speed and explain it and display the keys.

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