7 Little-Known But Super Useful Excel Shortcuts [For Windows and Mac]

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

Keyboard shortcuts help save time and increase productivity.

Unfortunately, most people only know the holy trinity of shortcuts — COPY, PASTE, and UNDO.

In Excel, there are more than 500 keyboard shortcuts. Some are easy to remember while others need 4 unique keys to execute.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

In this article, we’ll cover 7 shortcuts in Excel that aren’t just useful, but also easy to remember.

*This tutorial is for Excel 2019 for Windows. Got a different version? No problem, you can still follow the exact same steps.

Get your FREE exercise file

Before you start:

Throughout this guide, you need a data set to practice.

I’ve included one for you (for free).

Download it right below!

Download the FREE Exercise File

Download exercise file
Download free exercise file

Redo and Repeat an Action

Both ‘Redo’ and ‘Repeat an Action’ have the same shortcut — ‘F4’ or ‘Ctrl + Y’ (⌘ + Y’ for Mac). However, they have entirely different functions.

Here’s a quick differentiation between the two:

  • Redo is the opposite of ‘Undo’. It’s useful when you want to reverse an undo action.
  • Repeat an action lets you… Well… Repeat an action! 😊

Like ‘Undo’, ‘Redo’ has certain limitations: 

  • By default, you can only redo up to 100 steps.
  • You can’t redo an action that wasn’t caused by an undo action.

Here’s a good example of when to use the ‘Redo’ function:

You made a weekly expenses tracker and you just finished writing a ‘SUM’ formula of all your expenses during the week. 

However, you mistakenly pressed ‘Ctrl + Z’ thinking you missed the first amount and deleted the formula.

Instead of rewriting it, all you have to do is use the ‘Redo’ function by pressing ‘F4’ (‘Ctrl/ + Y’ if ‘F4’ doesn’t work).

shortcut for redo

By the way, there’s no way you can use the ‘Redo’ and ‘Repeat an Action’ functions at the same time.

Once you ‘Undo’, Excel automatically sees the shortcut as ‘Redo’. But if you did something like highlight a certain cell, the shortcut is in ‘Repeat an Action’ mode.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

To illustrate, let’s say you want to highlight all the amounts under the “Groceries” category: 

All you have to do is highlight the first one manually.

highlighting the groceries category manually

Then, select the cells you want to highlight and press ‘F4’ (‘Ctrl/ + Y’ if ‘F4’ doesn’t work).

shortcut for repeat an action

Autosum

There are many ways to add numbers in excel.

Oftentimes, we place the sum total at the end of a column or row with the values we want to add.

When adding numbers in a column or row, the usual method is by using the ‘SUM’ function and entering the range of the addends.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

But what if you have more than 100 addends?

Autosum makes it easy by simply pressing ‘Alt + =’ (⌘ + Shift + T’ for Mac). Excel automatically writes the ‘SUM’ formula for the entire column range in that cell.

Press ‘Enter’ and you’re done!

shortcut for autosum

Direct Precedents: Select Cells Referenced by the Formula

If you need to check whether the formula you entered covered all the cells needed, simply use the shortcut ‘Ctrl + [‘ (‘^ + [‘ for Mac).

shortcut to select direct precedents

Show/Hide Formulas

If you like to check the formula itself, you can show or hide the formulas by pressing ‘Ctrl + `’ (‘^ + `’ for Mac). The (`) is the grave accent mark key located in the upper left corner of your keyboard.

shortcut for show or hide formulas

Insert/Delete a Row/Column

Using the mouse to insert a column/row is done by either: 

  • Clicking the ‘Insert’ button under the ‘Cells’ category on the Ribbon 
  • Right-clicking the headings and selecting ‘Insert’ where you want to insert a row/column

The faster way, however, is to use shortcuts.

To add a row/column, select the row/column where you want to insert the new row/column and press ‘Ctrl + Shfit + +’ (‘^ + I’ for Mac).

shortcut for adding a row or column

To delete a row/column, press ‘Ctrl + -’ (‘^ + -’ for Mac).

shortcut for delete row or column

Hide a Row/Column

If you wish to hide rows and columns without deleting the data, you can simply format them to do so.

The ‘Hide & Unhide’ formatting is found in the Ribbon under the ‘Cells’ category as shown below:

hide and unhide buttons under format

The shortcuts are much easier.

To hide a row, select the row and press ‘Ctrl + 9’ (‘^ + 9’ for Mac).

shortcut to hide row

To hide a column, select the column and press ‘Ctrl + 0’ (‘^ + 0’ for Mac).

shortcut to hide column

Unhide Shortcuts

If you wish to unhide the hidden rows/columns, simply add ‘Shift’ to the set of keys.

To unhide a row, select the row and press ‘Ctrl + Shift + 9’ (‘^ + Shift + 9’ for Mac).

shortcut for unhide row

To unhide a column, select the column and press ‘Ctrl + Shift + 0’ (‘^ + Shift + 0’ for Mac).

shortcut for unhide column

If you’re using Windows 10, the shortcut for column ‘Unhide’ may not work due to a keyboard switching shortcut. If so, simply use the button from the Excel Ribbon to unhide your rows/columns.

Apply/Remove Filter

Using filters let you slice and dice your data.

Excel has AutoFilter and advanced filters to help you hone in on the information you want to see.
Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

The ‘Filter’ button is found on the Data tab under ‘Sort & Filter’ category of the Ribbon.

filter button location

The shortcut for applying (and removing) a filter is ‘Ctrl + Shift + L’ (‘⌘ + Shift + L’ for Mac). Before applying the filter, make sure to select a cell (any cell will do) within your data range.

shortcut for applying filter

Insert Current Date

Let’s say you want to log the current date.

Instead of manually writing down the date, you can simply use the shortcut — ‘Ctrl + ;’ (‘^ + ;’ for Mac).

shortcut for insert current date

Apply Date Format

The date you’ll get after using the shortcut is in dd mm yyyy format.

If you want to apply the dd mmm yy date format, press ‘Ctrl + Shift + #’ (‘^ + Shift + #’ for Mac).

shortcut for applying date format

Insert Current Time

Lastly, you can also insert the current time.

Press ‘Ctrl + Shift + ;’ (‘^ + Shift + ;’ for Mac) to insert the current time.

shortcut for insert current time

Conclusion

When learning keyboard shortcuts, it’s possible you won’t remember all of them right away.

But by constantly using them every time an opportunity presents itself, you’ll eventually be able to master them.

It’s good to know different keyboard shortcuts aside from copy, paste, and undo. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t memorize them all! Just keep practicing and you’ll get there. 😊

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto