Excel Guide: Clicking and Dragging the Fill Handle (2024)

Fill Handle is Excel’s most powerful yet underutilized feature of all time.

Whether you’re working with large datasets or complex formulas, mastering Fill Handle can save you hours of manual labor.

In this guide, you will learn the two most important features of Fill Handle. This includes copying cell values and using autofill options.

So, get ready to take your Excel skills to the next level! 💪

You can also download our sample workbook here to practice using Fill Handle in real time.

What is the Excel fill handle?

The Excel Fill Handle is a feature that allows you to quickly fill in a series based on a pattern of data. It is a small green box at the bottom right corner of a cell.

Fill Handle icon

You can fill in the series by double-clicking and dragging the Fill Handle. It is a simple but powerful tool that can save you time and increase your productivity in Excel 😉

It can be used for copying formulas, generating sequences, filling in patterns, and a lot more. Let’s see some common uses of the Fill Handle feature below.

Copy with the fill handle

Using the Fill Handle to copy values is an easy way to duplicate in Excel. Let’s see how to use this feature to copy data in an Excel sheet below.

Say, we have some sample data.

Sample data for what does clicking and dragging the fill handle

The data contains the strength of some classes, i.e., 20 and we want to copy it to the remaining cells. Instead of typing the number in each cell, we will use the Fill handle to copy values 😃

To do that,

  1. Select cell B2.
Selecting cell to enable fill handle to copy values of the cell
  1. Hover the cursor over the Fill Handle.
Select the Fill handle in Excel icon - fill formatting
  1. Double click on the + icon at the bottom right of the corner.
  2. The values will be copied to the remaining cells as:
Values have been copied to cells in above examples with same data - flash fill

Note that we were able to use the Fill Handle double-click feature because we had values adjacent cells. They indicated the last cell to auto-fill the series.

If there was no adjacent column, the double-click feature would not have worked. In such a case, we use the dragging method to copy values to our desired cell.

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

Autofill data with the fill handle

Autofill is a feature of the Fill Handle that lets you automatically fill a series. It auto-fills a column or range depending on the pattern it detects in the initial selection.

It can be used to fill in dates, weekdays, months, and a lot more 📆

Let’s see how to use it below.

Say, we have the following sample data that contains months in a year.

Sample data for months fill series using auto fill options button

We want Excel to automatically fill in the remaining months in a year and we will do it using the Autofill feature.

To do that,

  1. Select the first two cells containing the pattern – in our case – January and February.
Select both the cells and cell drag and drop
  1. Move your cursor to the Fill Handle icon and drag it to the last cell.
  2. Excel will fill a series of months in a year as:
The values appear in selected cells in the Excel spreadsheet

You can do the same with any other data that has a pattern. For instance, you can try it with the days in a week – Excel will fill the series for you.

And you can even choose if you want to fill weekdays only or all days of the week. You can access this from the auto-fill options icon at the bottom right corner of the range.

Press the mouse button on the auto fill options icon - Excel feature

Try it yourself using the sample workbook given above now! 🤓

That’s it – Now what?

In this article, we saw how to use the Fill Handle feature in excel. We also saw how to copy data will Fill Handle and Autofill it in Excel.

All in all, mastering Fill Handle can significantly boost your productivity in Excel. It automates repetitive tasks and generates patterned data in a snap 🤞

Not only that, it can help you auto-fill large datasets and reduce the work of hours into seconds. So what are you waiting for? Start experimenting with this feature today and take your Excel skills to the next level!

And although Fill Handle is a great feature, Excel has a variety of other tools that are just as useful 🧐

The most important of which are Excel functions. Our favorite Excel functions include IF, SUMIF, VLOOKUP, etc.

You can learn them for free in my 30-minute free email course that teaches this and more. So sign up now!

Other relevant resources

Did you enjoy this article? If yes, then you’d love to read more.

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Frequently asked questions

Dragging the Fill Handle to the left of the data will generate values based on the pattern of your selection. For instance, you have cells containing values 1, 2, and 3.

When you drag the fill handle to the left, Excel will fill the series with values as 0, -1, -2, and so on. Similarly, when you drag Fill Handle upwards, it generates a series based on the given pattern.

Double-clicking the Fill Handle allows you to fill in a series based on the pattern in the active cell. But do that, you need to have a pattern and a relative range that indicates where the values end. For instance, a column has 1, 2, 3 values and has an adjacent column.

Select the three cells and double-click the Fill Handle. Excel will automatically fill the rows with the numbers 4, 5 6, and so on.