Excel Speed: 3 Keyboards Shortcuts worth Memorizing

In addition to knowing which features and functions can help you work faster in Excel, knowing a few keyboard shortcuts will help as well. You see, the faster you can communicate with Excel the faster you’ll get your Excel-work done. So, in this post, I’ll talk about 3 of my most-used shortcuts and then show you how to easily figure out the shortcuts for your most-used commands.

3 Shortcuts

Here are 3 shortcuts that I use on a daily basis:

1) Ctrl+PageDown/PageUp

When you press and hold the Ctrl key, and then hit the PageDown button, Excel activates the next worksheet. Ctrl and PageUp activates the previous worksheet.

Mac Users: depending on your keyboard, you may or may not have a PageDown button. If not, I believe holding Fn and Down arrow does the PageDown, so, you’d use Ctrl+Fn+Down

2) Alt+I, R

To insert a new worksheet row, I use Alt+I, R (for Insert Row). There are other shortcuts, but I prefer this one because it does not require me to select the entire row first or respond to a subsequent dialog box asking if I’d like to insert cells or a row. Plus, it inserts the same number of rows as the selected range. That is, if you select a single cell, it will insert one row. If you select 3 cells vertically, it will insert 3 rows, and so on.

Mac users: you may not have an alt key, so you may need ctrl + shift + =

3) F2

The F2 key toggles into Edit mode, meaning, you can select a cell and hit F2 and then start editing it. Use Esc to get out without making any changes, or Enter to commit the changes.

Mac users: your F keys (function keys) may not be acting as function keys, so, you’ll either need to include the Fn key or go into System Preferences and check Use f keys as traditional function keys.

Finding More

It is relatively easy to figure out the shortcuts for the commands you use frequently.

One quick way to see if there is a direct keyboard shortcut is to hover over the command icon and see if a keyboard shortcut is displayed in the pop up. For example, hovering over the Insert > Table command displays this message revealing the shortcut Ctrl+T:

If there isn’t a keyboard shortcut for the specific command you want to use, you can always use your keyboard to navigate through the user interface without a mouse. For example, if you press the Alt key, Excel reveals the letters that correspond to each ribbon tab, like this:

Then, you can press the letter for the desired tab to reveal the letters that correspond to the individual commands. For example, pressing M for the Formulas tab will reveal the letters that correspond to the commands on the Formulas tab, like this:

You can use these quickly, without waiting for the letter to pop up too, so, you can go as fast as you’d like. And, for the ones you use often, you’ll memorize them so you can select stuff without even looking.

Also, it is important to note that while keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl + T tend not to change with updated Excel versions, navigation through the user interface with Alt keys may change over time or as new command icons are introduced.

Plus, you can use the Excel help system (F1) and search for “keyboard shortcuts” to reveal hundreds of available shortcuts in Excel, or, head to my Excel-friend Dave Bruns shortcuts page which documents 200+ shortcuts for both Windows and Mac.

In closing, I’ll say that keeping my hands on my keyboard certainly has helped me interact with Excel faster, enabling me to work faster. I hope the same can help you work faster too 🙂



Jeff Lenning

I love sharing the things I've learned about Excel, and I built Excel University to help me do that. My motto is: Learn Excel. Work Faster.

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  1. Alan Maxwell on October 17, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Good tips 🙂
    The F2 [Edit] key has additional functionality by toggling between several modes.
    1. From the [Ready] state (see bottom left corner of window), using F2 will put Excel into the [Edit] state where the left and right arrow keys move the cursor among the selected cell’s formula as text.
    2. From the [Edit] state and with formula text in the cell, using F2 again changes Excel’s state to [Point] mode where the left and right arrow keys allows the cursor to select other cells in its current text position.
    You can use F2 again to switch to edit mode, change cursor position with left and right arrow keys, change F2 mode again to [Point] mode etc until ready to accept final correction.

  2. Alan Maxwell on October 17, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    Good tips 🙂
    For Tip 2. Alt+I, R,
    Depending on the Excel Options > Advanced > Lotus Compatibility setting, the / [slash] key triggers the Excel menu directly.
    E.g. Alt+I, R becomes a sequence of the 3 key strokes / I R that can be completed in a continuous sequence with one hand/finger.
    E.g. Using 1 finger to hold the [Alt] key down while another finger triggers I then R can sometimes be awkward for me.

    The / [Slash] key activates access to the complete Excel menu, but the letters match the older pre-ribbon excel short cut keys.

  3. Shane Cone on December 11, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Great tip!
    I recently gave a webinar at work going through some shortcuts. Another shortcut I love (and brought up in the presentation) is F4. It repeats whatever you last did. It can apply to editing cells, borders, inserting/deleting rows/columns. It’s fantastic!

  4. Victoria R. on January 25, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Wow! I will definitely be using that from now on! Thanks for sharing.

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