Navigating Cells and Ranges

If you were to ask me which Excel shortcut I use most often, I would definitely say Ctrl + Arrow Keys ( ). I use these all the time to navigate and select cells.

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Let's look at how these work. In the example below, when I use Ctrl + , starting in the header of Column A, it will move my selection all the way to the last non-blank cell in the column (A23).

In columns that have blanks, such as Column C, pressing Ctrl + the first time will move me to the last cell before the first blank. Pressing it again will move me to the next non-blank cell after the blank(s). Then pressing it again will take me to the last cell before the next blank.

In other words, repeatedly using Ctrl + moves you to the ends and the beginnings of the contiguous ranges of data in your column.

If your data has a lot of blank cells and you want to skip all the way to the bottom, you might want to use Ctrl + End instead. That will take you to the bottom-right entry on the sheet.

Typing Ctrl + Home will take you back up to the top left cell.

You can also select cells using these same navigation shortcuts by adding Shift into the mix.

In the example below, Ctrl + Shift + selects the entire data range between the two jump points.

I've only used the down arrow in my examples. However, the same principles apply to up, left, and right arrows as well.

Do you frequently use keyboard shortcuts to navigate and select cells in Excel? Or do you tend to rely on the mouse instead? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

14 comments

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  • Hi Jon,
    Keep the tips coming. I find them to be very helpful. I use Alt-A-T and Alt-W-F-R on every sheet I work with. This sets up my sort and scroll that I use constantly. The next keyboard shortcuts I use often is Alt-H-H-N and Alt-H-B-N.
    Have a great day.

  • pressing the END key + does the same thing. This is a hold-over from Lotus 1-2-3 and I was trained on that (showing my age here) and I never switched.

    • I use any of them, which ever comes to mind first. Also depends on the type of work i am doing. Short cut are really great anyways.

  • I am definitely a keyboard user whenever possible. I dislike having to navigate with a mouse.
    Thanks for the ctrl+!

  • 1. How can you change the default border of an active cell? The current MS MS green is not easily seen in a large set of numbers, especially if there are several colours.
    2. Can the drop down symbol on a filtered range/Table be changed? When selecting a Filter the difference is hard to notice in a busy spreadsheet

  • I use keyboard shortcuts every chance I have. My goal is to not have to touch the mouse. But I’m still learning the Shortcuts, so I do have to use the mouse more often that I want to.

  • Hi Jon,

    My column has lots of blank cells but im trying to navigate to the bottom of the column. I use Ctrl + End but it takes me to the rightmost bottom cell. Is there a shortcut to take me to the bottom of the column skipping all blank cells?

  • Hi Jon,
    One caveat for Ctrl + Home is that it doesn’t go to the top eg A1 if you have your sheet with any sort of freeze frame selected.
    One of my main sheets has a table from A49, the header row and extends down to A2122 and across to a different number of columns depending on various factors.
    If I’m messing about with the data, which is subject to changes on a regular basis, I find getting back to A49 is so simple as it also gives me access to all my laptop screen.

  • Great tip. I use the shortcut keys a lot, but sometimes I forget and slip back into mouse mode.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • John, I ❤ your shortcut posts.

    I’ve been troubled by the recent failure of Ctrl+Backspace to take me to my prior active cell. Has this shortcut been deprecated on O365? Thanks!

  • Jon dear,
    I like the keyboard keys to navigate.
    How can the navigated cells be highlighted for ease.
    Thanks

  • I have to admit I’m a major keyboard junkie. It drives me crazy when I’m trying to help someone and they won’t let me drive and insist on doing it themselves with the mouse and a hundred menu clicks. Oh well. Teaches me patience!

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