5 Ways to Select Multiple Shapes
Bottom Line: Learn how to select several shapes at once, including charts, slicers, images, etc. These techniques will help you save time when working with reports and dashboards that contain multiple objects on the same worksheet.
Skill Level: Beginner
Download the Excel File
You can download the file I’m using in the video to practice on your own.
5 Ways To Select Multiple Shapes.xlsx (24.9 KB)
Selecting Multiple Shapes
Being able to select many shapes simultaneously can be a real time-saver when you want to perform the same action on several objects at once. Those actions could include:
- Changing the size or properties of shapes.
- Formatting their appearance.
- Or just moving your images in bulk to another location on your worksheet.
Shapes can include charts, images, slicers, text boxes, photos, callouts, and more.
Below are five ways to quickly select several shapes at once. Which option you choose might depend on whether you want to select just some of the shapes on your worksheet or all of them, or whether you are more comfortable with keyboard shortcuts versus using the ribbon menu.
Option 1: Using the Ctrl Key
After selecting one shape, we can hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on other shapes we want selected. This allows us to pick and choose which shapes we want to manipulate. Using the Shift key instead of Ctrl will produce the same outcome.
When you select the first chart or shape, make sure to click on the border of the shape, not just one of the elements inside it. Otherwise you might start editing the shape instead of selecting it. After the first shape is selected, you can click anywhere on the other shapes to select them (while holding the Ctrl key).
Option 2: Using the Ctrl + A Keyboard Shortcut
As with Option 1, you will want to select one shape first, being sure to click on the border of the shape, not one of its components. Hold the Ctrl key, then press the A key to select all of the shapes on the sheet.
Keyboard shortcut to Select all Shapes on a Worksheet: Ctrl+A
This option saves time if we have many shapes and don’t want to select each of them individually. Because this option selects all of the shapes on our sheet, if there are certain shapes we want to exclude, we would need to use the Ctrl key, as in Option 1, to deselect the shapes we don’t want included.
Option 3: Using the Selection Pane
If you already have one or more shapes selected, click on the Format tab, and then the Selection Pane button to toggle on the Selection Pane. It will appear to the right of the worksheet.
If you don’t have a shape already selected, the Selection Pane can be found in the ribbon under the Home tab, in the Find & Select dropdown menu.
For ease of use in the future, you can easily add the Selection Pane button to your Quick Access Toolbar. You’ll find that option when you right-click on Selection Pane in the dropdown.
The Selection Pane allows us to see all the shapes on our sheet in list form. This is especially convenient if our worksheet is large in area and we don’t want to hunt for particular objects. The pane also gives us the ability to hide and unhide shapes, or to bring forward shapes that are overlapped by other objects.
Option 4: Using the Select Objects Mode
If all of our shapes are clustered in the same area, we may want to make use of the Select Objects mode. This is also found under the Find & Select dropdown menu on the Home tab of the ribbon.
Once you've turned this mode on, you simply highlight the area around all of the shapes you want to select. You can highlight by clicking at one corner of your desired area, holding the left mouse button down while moving to the opposite corner, and then releasing the button.
You basically draw an area around the shapes you want to select. All shapes that are completely inside the area you’ve drawn will then be selected.
This is similar to the behavior of selecting multiple objects in PowerPoint.
It's important to note that you will have to turn the mode off again to make changes in the cells of your worksheet. You can do this by by clicking again on the Select Objects option in the Find & Select menu.
Select Objects is another great feature to add to your Quick Access Toolbar as it gives you the ability to more quickly toggle the mode on and off. Check out my post on how to setup the Quick Access Toolbar for more details.
Option 5: Using the Go To Special Menu
You can access this option from the Find & Select menu on the Home tab of the ribbon. Click on the Objects radio button to select all of the objects on the sheet.
This option is probably the least useful of the five since it isn’t as fast as the keyboard shortcut to select all. But it never hurts to know your options, right?
Arranging Multiple Shapes
If you’d like to see how shapes can quickly be arranged to appear more professional and orderly, I encourage you to check out my brief tutorials on:
- How to automatically align your shapes into nice neat rows and columns
- Using a macro to arrange multiple shapes into a grid format or panel chart
- Aligning shapes in your Excel Dashboards
- Resize & Align Dashboard Elements with Snap to Shape
Please leave a comment below with any questions or suggestions on other ways to select multiple shapes. Thank you! 🙂