Excel is a software tool that’s been around almost as long as computers—it debuted in 1987 and was among the first spreadsheet programs of its kind and it has become a standard for several companies around the globe. Spreadsheets make tracking easy, whether it’s finances, inventory, or even a list of marketing campaigns that are currently running. And, like all Microsoft products, Excel comes with a host of shortcuts to make the software even easier to use.
Here are 10 of the best shortcuts from Microsoft Excel to help you work smarter and faster.
A favorite among those who are using Excel for managing data or finances, this is one of the most popular shortcuts used in the program. Simply press Alt + =, and the spreadsheet will know to automatically add the rows, columns, or even the entire table. From basic budgeting to business data monitoring, this is a shortcut that everyone should know when using Microsoft Excel.
To insert the current date into a cell, you simply need to press Ctrl + ;. This will input today’s date into the spreadsheet. If you need a timestamp, try Ctrl + Shift + : to get the current time inserted into the cell, too. For industries or data sheets where time and dates matter, this kind of shortcut can come in handy.
To select a column or row, there are two different shortcuts. We combined them as one, though, because you should know how to do both and the difference is a simple key interchange.
Select column: Ctrl + Space
Select row: Shift + Space
Whether you’re trying to copy data, highlight something, or even format text, this can make it quick and easy for you to select from the dozens, if not hundreds, of rows and columns on the spreadsheet.
If you’re using bullet points in Excel, things can get tricky. Fortunately, there’s also a shortcut for that. Simply press Alt + 7, and you’ll see a bullet pop up, allowing you to start your in-cell list. Entering to the next line will continue the bulleted list until you navigate away from the cell.
This is a handy shortcut to have for Excel, too. When you choose the Paste special option, you can paste any format or type of content into a cell and choose the options for how it pastes into the new sheet.
When you need to copy cell values from above, you can skip the copy and paste with this shortcut, which is simply Ctrl + D. It’s a few steps quicker than the traditional copy/paste method and it makes it easy to duplicate ten cells or 100.
As with the “fill down” shortcut, this one is easy. Simply press Ctrl + R and you will copy all the values from the selected cell to the cells on the right that are selected. Again, it saves a little time over copy and paste, and it can keep you moving quickly.
This is a critical shortcut for those working with large sets of data. It makes it easy to extend the selection to the bottom or any edge of the page. Simply press Ctrl + Shift + arrow keys (down for down, right for right, etc.) to extend the selection to the furthest edge of the page in the direction that you select.
As with most other software programs, and the entire Microsoft family of products, select all is engaged by pressing Ctrl + A. Then, you can copy, cut, format, or do whatever you need to the entire spreadsheet at once. This is helpful for formatting, copying, and making templates, and for validating data when you need to copy it all at once into another program for sharing and validation.
This is one of the simplest and most common commands people learn. Ctrl + 1 is the shortcut (Command + 1 on Mac), and although it’s known as the formula for formatting cells, it can actually be used to format almost any part of your spreadsheet.
As you can see, there are plenty of great commands that can make Excel even more useful, no matter what you use it for. Just remember to use caution when getting the hang of shortcuts at first—you don’t want to go hard and find out that you totally screwed up the spreadsheet by using the wrong shortcut. After a little time, they’ll become more like second nature, and you can start learning some of the dozens of other shortcuts available for Excel and other software tools.
The good news is that shortcuts don’t have to be the same for everyone—these are just the standard-issue Excel options. You can also go into your settings and customize or create quick access for the shortcuts that you use the most. Or, you can stick with clicking and navigating, or using the many menus on the Excel dashboard to help you manage your spreadsheets. Of course, keyboard shortcuts are nice because they save time and steps, and in today’s mobile society, they save the hassle of touchpads or having to carry around a mobile mouse.
Shortcuts can seem intimidating at first, especially in a program like Excel. Fortunately, with a little learning, you can get the hang of things so that you’re cruising through spreadsheets like a pro in no time at all.
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