The computer and the mouse have been intricately linked since they were first made commercially available in the late 1970’s. Even today, 40 years later in the era of touchscreens and virtual reality, using a computer without a mouse, or its touchpad counterpart, is unthinkable.
When working with Microsoft productivity applications like Word and Excel, however, the mouse actually slows things down. Way down. Having to take a hand off the keyboard, locate and grab the mouse, click, drag, double-click and whatnot to execute routine functions can disrupt flow, physically and mentally, adding seconds and minutes that can total up to hours wasted over the course of a long project.
Enter the keyboard shortcut!
Cut to the Paste, er Chase
There are a host of fairly universal keyboard shortcuts that are pretty familiar to most Excel and Word users, like Ctrl + C for copy, Ctrl + X for cut, and Ctrl + V for paste.
And no self-respecting list of keyboard shortcuts would be complete without the magical Ctrl + Z a.k.a. Undo, for when you accidentally delete a bunch of stuff you never intended to. Thank you Ctrl+Z!
Pro tip – did you know that the default for the number of do’s you can Undo is up to 100 actions? And if you Undo too far, no sweat! Ctrl + Y is Redo, the yin-yang partner to Undo that can undo your Undo! It can redo up to, you guessed it, 100 actions.
There are well over 200 different keyboard shortcuts in Excel, and over 300 tasks in Word that can be accomplished with keyboard shortcuts.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to list them all here, (If your curiosity is piqued, go here for Excel shortcuts. Microsoft has the most commonly used ones at this site.), but there are a handful that don’t get as much press as they should.
Here are some of our favorite Excel shortcuts – we’ll save Word for another post. Although if you’re adventurous, you can try these in Word as well and see what happens. There’s always Ctrl + Z!
Faster than a Speeding Bullet
Some of the best shortcuts are ones that move you around quickly from one spot on an Excel spreadsheet to another. Unlike a Word document that only adds pages as needed, an Excel spreadsheet springs forth with all 17+ billion cells available. Using keyboard shortcuts to move from one end of a spreadsheet to another is much faster than using the scroll wheel or scroll bars.
Fun factoid – at 5 rows to an inch, an Excel spreadsheet (from row 1 to row 1,048,576) is 3.3 miles long. Using the shortcuts below, you can move from the first row to the last row of a spreadsheet in less than one second, putting the “travel speed” at just shy of 12,000 miles per hour or 15 times the speed of sound! Beat that, scroller!
Home and End
The Home and End buttons move the cursor to the beginning of the row or the end of the data in that row, respectively.
Add the Ctrl button, and those buttons move you to the beginning of the spreadsheet or the end of the data set. If you have a spreadsheet with lots of empty space, this shortcut can be a lifesaver if you need to find that one stray cell that’s turning your tidy one-page spreadsheet into 35 pages of mostly blank pages.
Hit Ctrl + End again, and it’ll take you to the last cell in the last row.
Navigation - Ctrl + Directional Arrow Key
This shortcut moves the cursor from the current cell to the edge of the data region within that row or column.
For example, if you’re looking for the one empty cell in a row or column, this combo will move the cursor from the current location right next to the empty cell (the edge between data and no data). If there are no empty cells in the row or column of the data set, it’ll take you to the last cell with data, in the direction of the directional arrow key pressed.
Moving from Sheet to Sheet – Ctrl + Page Up or Page Down
This allows you to navigate from one worksheet to the next in a workbook. Ctrl+ Page Up moves to the left; Ctrl + Page Down moves to the right.
Highlights at 11:00
No need to click and drag to highlight or select cells - we got keystrokes for that too.
Extend Selection - Ctrl + Shift + Directional Arrow Key
This will highlight from the selected cell to the edge of the data in that row or column.
Select All – Ctrl + A
Useful if you want to execute the same function on every cell in a data set. Hit it again to select every cell in the spreadsheet.
Select the Entire Row – Shift + Space
Select the Entire Column – Ctrl + Space
These are just a few shortcuts that make working in Excel less disruptive and time-consuming, especially when working with large data sets.
And if you’re looking for a shortcut to make working with your technology simpler, we got you covered there too – give us a call or shoot us a note. We’d love to hear from you!