2. Keyboard Shortcuts


Keyboard shortcuts dramatically improve your productivity in Excel. This lesson explains the two types of keyboard shortcuts in Excel and how to use them.

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  1. Overview of Shortcuts (00:16)

    When using Excel, we typically keep two hands on the keyboard to type numbers and text. As a result, keyboard shortcuts are a much more efficient way of using Excel than reaching for the mouse to access ribbon commands. As a result, we use keyboard shortcuts throughout our Excel courses.

    Some shortcuts vary between Windows and Mac systems. We use Windows shortcuts in our videos, but we provide a resource listing Windows and Mac shortcuts to the right of the video pane in each Excel lesson. Simply click the keyboard icon to access it.

  2. Shortcuts that Access the Ribbon (01:22)

    Instead of accessing ribbon commands with the mouse, it’s much quicker to use keyboard shortcuts. Shortcuts that access the ribbon all start with Alt, followed by a shortcut for the tab, then a shortcut for the command.

    For example pressing Alt, then H accesses the Home tab. Pressing Alt, H, P accesses the command to convert the current cell to a percentage. In these notes, commas indicate that you press the keys one after the other. When you press Alt, you can see the available shortcuts on screen. As a result, you don’t need to commit these shortcuts to memory.

  3. Shortcuts that Don’t Access the Ribbon (02:06)

    Other shortcuts execute commands without accessing the ribbon. These shortcuts are probably used more often, and must be committed to memory. Many of these shortcuts use the Control key (labeled Ctrl on many keyboards).

    Some examples include Ctrl + C to copy, Ctrl + V to paste and Ctrl + PgDown to move to the next worksheet. In these notes, the + symbol indicates the keys are pressed at the same time.


In the previous lesson, we introduced Excel's user interface. In this lesson, we'll learn about the two main types of keyboard shortcut in Excel.

When using Excel, we typically spend our time typing numbers and text, and typically keep two hands on the keyboard almost all of the time. As a result, reaching for the mouse repeatedly to access commands in the ribbon becomes very time consuming. A much better alternative is to use keyboard shortcuts to access these commands. Although they require some practice at the start, keyboard shortcuts will make you much faster at Excel over time. Note that all the shortcuts we'll demonstrate in our Excel courses are applicable to Excel for Window systems. If you use Excel on a Mac, you'll find that some shortcuts are the same and some are different.

We've provided a resource listing all the important Excel keyboard shortcuts for both Windows and Mac. You can access this by selecting the keyboard icon to the right of the video pane on any Excel lesson.

There are broadly two types of keyboard shortcuts in Excel, shortcuts that directly access the ribbon commands, and then shortcuts that don't. To access shortcuts in the ribbon, we simply press the Alt key, and this displays a series of letters underneath each tab. Let's press H for the Home tab, and this immediately provides me with all the shortcut commands for this tab. For example, if I wanted to convert the number 12 into the percentage format, I would just press P, and this gives me 1200%. If I press Alt + A instead of Alt + H, you can see the shortcuts appear for this tab as well. Ribbon shortcuts are very helpful because all you need to remember is one key, Alt, and Excel will tell you the rest of the keys to press to execute the shortcut.

The second set of keyboard shortcuts, which do not access the ribbon are probably used more often, but they do require you to commit them to memory. Some of these shortcuts you might be familiar with from other programs. For example, Control + B to bold text, Control + C to copy, and Control + V to paste. Others, such as Control + Page Down to move to the next sheet are specific to Excel.

Although I try to use shortcuts as much as possible, there are some occasions, for example, when I'm selecting a text color, where I find the mouse easier to use. If you can learn to limit your use of the mouse to these few instances, you'll become much more productive at navigating and manipulating data in Excel.