Taking Control of Excel shortcuts- Part One

Save time with shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can really speed up your work in Excel. Here are some of my favourites that use the Ctrl key. I’ll share some more in later blog posts.

My first article in the CPA magazine, way back in 2002, was a feature on Excel’s control key shortcuts. These ones have been around for a while.Ctrl

Ctrl + ; (semi colon)

Enters today’s date. This is not a formula, it’s just today’s date.

Ctrl + *

This selects the current table of data really quickly – no matter how many rows or columns it contains. It does stop at blank rows and columns. It’s called the current region which is bordered by blank rows and columns.

I use the * key on my numeric keypad (right side of keyboard). If you have a laptop keyboard use Ctrl + Shift + 8. Ctrl + a can also do this if you are in a table. If you are in a blank area Ctrl + a selects the whole sheet.

Ctrl + arrow keys

A quick way to navigate around a spreadsheet. When you press it the active cell goes in the direction of the arrow until it finds a cell that is either empty, or has an entry. It depend what type of cell you were in  to start.

(Did you know the first Apple Mac keyboards didn’t have arrow keys? Steve Jobs wanted the mouse to be used for navigation not the keyboard – Excel first came out on Apple computers)

Ctrl + F3

The F3 key is pretty much dedicated to range names, which I use all the time. This shortcut opens the Name Manager dialog in Excel 2007 and later versions. It opens the Define Name dialog in Excel 2003.

Ctrl + Shift + F3

This shortcut creates range names based on cell labels and again, I do this all the time. It’s the quickest way to create lots of range names. It’s also a good documentation feature because the range name is shown on the sheet next to the actual named range. It’s a shortcut for the Create From Selection button on the Formulas Ribbon tab, in the Defined Names section.

Ctrl + space

Selects the current column or columns depending on what you have selected.

Ctrl + Enter

After you have selected a range and typed an entry this shortcut will populate all the cells in the selection with your entry. If you enter a formula it will be entered as a relative reference formula. Handy to zero a range in one step to prepare it for input.

Ctrl + c and Ctrl + v

Yes, the copy and paste are oldies but goodies, going all the way back to the first PC’s. These can still be quicker than the mouse in some cases.

Ctrl + b

Toggles the Bold format – turns it off and on.

Ctrl + s

I don’t use the AutoSave feature – when you are developing models sometimes you don’t want to save automatically. I save myself – I’ve got into the habit of doing it regularly and at specific points in the development phase.

Check out Part 2 of the shortcuts here.


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2 thoughts on “Taking Control of Excel shortcuts- Part One

  1. Thanks Neale, love your work! Keyboard shortcuts are the best way to navigate (in my humble opinion) and reduce stress on your back and arms by reducing the use of the mouse.

    • Thanks Dianne – I agree keyboard shortcuts can be the fastest technique in many cases. In my training courses I’ve had many people who prefer to learn keyboard techniques. They avoid the mouse.