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Category Archives for "Keyboard Shortcuts"
12

Move Excel Charts with Arrow Keys

This post and video contain lots of tips for moving your charts and shapes with the arrow keys.  This is very useful when you need to arrange and align multiple shapes on your worksheet.  I also have a free Chart Alignment add-in that allows you to move the objects inside a chart (titles, labels, legends) with the arrow keys and alignment buttons.

Video

Move Chart with Arrow Keys

Typically when you select a chart with your mouse, the box surrounding the chart looks like the following.

Chart Single Click No Arrow Keys

When the chart is selected like this, nothing happens when you press the arrow keys to try and move the chart around the worksheet.  Instead, the objects within the chart are cycled through and selected.  Not what we want.

Solution #1

Hold Ctrl and Left Click the chart –  This selects the shape object that the chart resides in.  Circles will appear on each corner of the chart.

Chart Bounding Box Ctrl Click

The chart can now be moved around on the sheet with the arrow keys, making it easy to align it with other shapes, charts, or cells in your worksheet.

Solution #2

Select multiple charts or shapes – Hold the Ctrl key and select at least two charts using left click.  The bounding box will still look like the same as when you only have one chart selected, but you are able to move the charts with the arrow keys.

Select Multiple Charts

Move or Create a Shape Inside a Chart

Moving shapes inside a chart can get a bit confusing.  Shapes, such as a text box or rectangle, can reside in two places:

  • either inside the chart object,
  • or on the worksheet (outside of the chart).

The confusing part is that a shape residing outside the chart on the worksheet can be placed on top of the chart.  This makes it look like the shape is inside the chart even though it is not.  In this case, when you move the chart, the shape will NOT move with it unless you have both the shape and the chart selected.

A shape located inside the chart will move with the chart.  This makes it easier to move and align the chart because you don't have to worry about selecting multiple objects when doing the alignment.

There are two ways to get a shape inside a chart:

  1. Create the shape inside the chart – First select the chart so the bounding box appears around it, then draw the shape inside the chart object area (Insert tab
    > Shapes menu).
  2. Paste a shape inside the chart – Cut or Copy an existing shape on your worksheet, then select the chart and paste the shape.  This will put the shape inside the chart.

Move Shape Inside Chart with Arrow Keys

Now that your shape is residing inside your chart, you can use the arrow keys to move it around and align it with the other objects in your chart (title, axis, legend, etc.)  See instructions below the screencast.

Move Shape Inside Chart with Arrow Keys

To move a shape inside the chart with arrow keys:

  1. Ctrl+Left Click the border of the chart so you get the circles on the corners.
    Ctrl Select Chart with Shape
  2. Then Ctrl+Left Click the shape inside the chart.  You will notice that the circles remain on the top left corner of the chart.
    Ctrl Select Shape Inside Chart
  3. Keyboard arrows are now enabled so you can move and align your shape (text box) within the chart.

Conclusion

You should now be able to get all your charts and shapes lined up to perfection using the incremental movements of the arrow keys.  This is very useful if you read my post on Panel Charts as an alternative to Stacked Charts and want to create panel charts.  In a future post I will share more tips and shortcuts for aligning and viewing your charts.

What are some shortcuts you use to align your charts?

24

Convert Text to Numbers – Excel Keyboard Shortcuts

Excel has a built-in feature to convert text to numbers, but it can be tricky to use when you are trying to select a long list of cells or multiple rows and columns.  In the video below I describe how to use keyboard shortcuts to accomplish this very quickly.

Keyboard Shortcuts to Convert Text to Numbers

Here's a quick guide for the keyboard shortcuts to select the range of cells you want to convert.

  1. Select any cell that contains the Number Stored as Text error.  You will see a small green triangle in the top left corner of the cell.Number Stored as Text Error
    _
  2. Use the following keyboard shortcuts to select the range:
    _
    Ctrl + A – selects the entire contiguous range
    Ctrl + A Twice – selects the entire sheet
    Ctrl + Space bar – selects the entire column
    Shift + Left/Right Arrow – selects multiple columns
    Shift + Space bar – selects the entire rowShift + Up/Down Arrow – selects multiple rows
    _
  3. The error menu drop-down will now be at the top left or right corner of your selected range.  You can then use the following keyboard shortcut to Convert to Numbers.
    _
    Alt + Menu Key + C – Convert to Number

Excel Convert Text to Number Keyboard Shortcut Alt+Menu Key+C_

The Menu Key is located between the Alt and Ctrl keys on the right side of the keyboard.  If your keyboard does not have a menu key, you can use Shift +F10 as an alternate.

 

Keyboard Diagram Menu Key Windows_

Alternative Methods

I find the built-in feature to be the fastest, but there are other ways to accomplish this task:

    • Copy a cell containing a 1 and Paste Special>Multiple on the range you want to convert.
    • Use Text to Columns tool on the Data tab (ribbon).  This is limited to one column and doesn't work on rows.
    • Functions – the VALUE() function works well, but there are many ways to do this too.
    • VBA/Macro – write your own code to automate the process

Do you have a different or easier way?  Please leave a comment.

10

Excel Quick Access Toolbar – Keyboard Shortcuts

The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Excel 2007 is extremely useful for creating keyboard shortcuts for items that don't have a defined keyboard shortcut.  For example, there is no defined keyboard shortcut to Paste Values but you can easily set it up on the QAT.

The QAT is accessed through the keyboard by pressing the Alt key.  Press and release the Alt key and you will see numbers appear next to each icon on the QAT.

Alt Number Key for Keyboard Shortcuts for the Quick Access Toolbar

 

So Alt + [the icon number] is the keyboard shortcut for each item.  In this example, the keyboard shortcut for paste values is Alt+1.  The keyboard shortcut for the format painter is Alt+2.

There are two ways to use the keyboard shortcut.

  • Press and release Alt to view the shortcut numbers next to each icon.  Then press the number of the QAT item you want to use.
  • Better Option: Press and hold Alt then press the number of the QAT item.  This is much faster once you have your QAT shortcut numbers memorized.  You will notice that the numbers don't appear when you press and hold Alt, so you have to memorize them.

I tend to move the icons around based on the task I'm working on in Excel.  If I'm going to be using the format painter a lot, I will move it to the “1” position (farthest left) while I'm using it.  This is mainly because it is easier to Press Alt+1, Alt+2, and Alt+3 on the keyboard by placing your right thumb on Alt and right index finger on the number.  The other numbers can be a bit of a stretch, depending on your keyboard.

See my post on how to setup the QAT for more details.

5

Setup the Excel Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)

The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in Excel 2007 is a great option for shortcuts to your most used commands.  It's faster to click on an icon in the QAT (one click) versus clicking on the ribbon tab and then the command (two clicks + mouse navigation).  And you can use keyboard shortcuts for the QAT to make things even easier.

The Setup

Setting up the QAT is simple and consists of two steps:  Adding commands and arranging the icons.

The easiest way to add commands to the toolbar is to:

  1. Navigate to the command you want to add in the ribbon.
  2. Right click on the icon and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar from the drop down menu.

QAT Add Item

The command icon will be added to the end of the QAT.

To arrange the icons:

  1. Right click anywhere on the QAT and select Customize the Quick Access Toolbar… from the drop down menu.Customize QAT drop down
  2. The Excel Options menu opens and you can move your icons to the left or right by selecting the icon in the right box and pressing the up or down arrows.
QAT Options

Click Image to Zoom

The order of the icons becomes important when you are using keyboard shortcuts to access the commands.  And I highly recommend this as a much faster way to execute commands in Excel, versus using the mouse.  You can also use the Options window (above) to add and remove commands from the toolbar.

So what icons should I add to the Quick Access Toolbar?

This will depend on what you use Excel for and which commands you use most often.  If you are doing lots of data entry and manipulation you might want to have the “Paste Values” and “Format Painter” commands at the top of your list.  Reporting and analyzing, you may want some charting and page layout commands.  The key is to have the commands you use most often located closest to the left because the keyboard shortcuts are easier to press with your thumb and index finger.

Move the QAT

The toolbar can be place above or below the ribbon by clicking the down arrow to the right of the QAT and selecting Show Below the Ribbon or Show Above the Ribbon.

Move QAT

I prefer to have it above because it reduces the total vertical height of the top toolbars, which gives you more spreadsheet real estate.  But you may find that you have so many icons that it fits better below the ribbon.  If you are a heavy mouse user (vs. keyboard shortcuts) then it is also easier to navigate to the QAT if it is below the ribbon.

Checkout my recommendations on commonly used commands for the Quick Access Toolbar.

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