Getting dragging right in Excel

Tricks of the trade

Ever tried using your right mouse button to click, hold and drag things around in Excel? You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Right dragging is different to right clicking. Right clicking different areas on the Excel screen will display different shortcuts menus. Right clicking is a great shortcut for formatting and other frequently done tasks.

Click here to see a blog post on some of the more unknown Excel right clicks.

Right dragging can take a bit of practice, but it’s worth it. In the same way a right click shows a menu of the commonly done tasks for the thing you right click on, the right drag displays a menu of commonly done tasks when you release the mouse button after dragging something.

There are two mouse cursors to use when dragging.

The Fill Handle

The Fill Handle is the little plus sign on the bottom right corner of the selected cell or range. See image below.

Fill Handle cursor shape

If you right drag the Fill Handle of a cell the options allowed will depend upon the cell contents. Dates, numbers and text have slightly different available options. See example menus below

right drag text

Right Drag Text Menu

Right Drag Number Menu

Right Drag Number Menu

Right Drag Date Menu

Right Drag Date Menu

Note the Fill Weekdays option in the date menu – this omits weekends and is handy for rosters.

The Arrow shape

The Arrow cursor shape can be seen on the border of a selected cell or range. See images below.

Arrow cursor bottom arrow cursor right arrow cursor top arrow cursor left

Dragging the arrow shape displays the following menu.

Right drag arrow menu

Right drag arrow menu

I frequently use the Copy Here as Formats Only and Copy Here as Values Only options in these menus.

Warning – be very careful using the Shift options at the bottom as they affect the structure of the sheet and may result in REF# errors.

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