How To Navigate Excel Worksheets Using the Keyboard

If you can familiarize yourself with navigating through an Excel Worksheet using mostly the keyboard, you can actually speed up your work as you'll hardly ever need to lift your right hand and reach for the mouse. Here are some keyboard techniques for moving around in Excel.

  1. Use the arrow keys. The keyboard arrow keys can move the cursor/active cell up or down and left or right a worksheet one cell at a time. To make bigger leaps, the Page Up and Page Down keys can change the view one whole screen up or down. Combining the Alt key with either Page Up or Page Down moves the view one whole screen left or right. The Ctrl key pressed simultaneously with an arrow key will move the active cell selection to the top or bottom data-filled cell along a column (up and down arrows), or the first or last data-filled cell along a row (left and right arrows).
  2. Move around the menus and toolbars. Activating the menu and toolbars section of the Excel interface for keyboard navigation is done by simply pressing the Alt key. The File menu is the first item to be automatically highlighted. You can move to the other menu items (Edit, View, Insert, etc.) through the left and right arrow keys. The down arrow expands the commands under the selected menu and the Esc key closes the menu list. To jump from the menu to the toolbars underneath press the Ctrl and Tab keys. Once on a particular toolbar, you can again use the arrow keys to move from one icon to the next and press Enter to activate or perform the function.
  3. Move between worksheets. The Ctrl key combined with either the Page Up or Page Down keys allows you to move to the next or previous worksheet. The Shift key combined with the F11 function key will insert a new worksheet. To delete the currently displayed worksheet press the Alt key to get to the menus, the letter E to activate the Edit menu, and then the letter L to delete it. You can select the current worksheet and another adjacent one. The combination of the Shift, Ctrl and Page Down keys selects both the current worksheet and the next one. Shift, Ctrl and Page Up selects the current and previous worksheet.
  4. Selecting cells and editing data. Just like in other Office applications, the Ctrl and A key combination selects the entire worksheet. For specific rows and columns, the Ctrl key with the Spacebar selects the entire column where the active cell is located while the Shift key with the Spacebar selects the entire row. To edit a cell's content, move to a specific cell to make it active then press the F2 button. The program will go into Edit mode and you'll see the cursor at the end of the cell's content. From there you can use the arrow keys to move along the line or the Backspace key to erase content.

Just in case your mouse decides to malfunction in the middle of some tedious data entry work, you'll have these keyboard techniques to help you finish the job.


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