Join Dennis Taylor for an in-depth discussion in this video Access ribbon commands with Alt key sequences, part of Excel: Tips and Tricks.
- [Instructor] Excel has any number of different keystroke shortcuts, many of them use the control key. Some of them use the alt key. But the alt key also has a special meaning. If you hold down the alt key, what happens at the top of the screen? There's a letter associated with each tab in the ribbon and there are numbers associated with various quick access toolbar buttons. Now if you have more buttons than just the few as I have at the moment, you'll see even more numbers at the top of the screen. There could be times when the mouse isn't working or you don't have any batteries.
You can get into the menu system by using the alt key. There's an extended use of this too which we'll see in a moment that's also very helpful. Imagine the mouse were not working right now, and I wanted to, with the numbers off to the right, change the format. Well first of all how would I highlight them without a mouse? Use the arrow keys on the keyboard, and if I wanted to highlight for example just these numbers here, I could start at any of the corners, maybe this one, hold down the shift key. Keep it held down as we highlight these numbers.
I'd like to format these in comma format. Now when you hold down the alt key as I said earlier, we activate these letters that appear at the top of the screen. There's H under Home, that sort of makes sense. N for insert, well it sort of sounds like N, but some of the others that we see up here, P for Page Layout, M for Formulas, A for Data and so on, not exactly obvious in all cases. But if we want to use some Home tab features right now, and we're not using a mouse at all, press the letter H.
And then we see for each of the various options on the Home tab, another letter, or in some cases two letters, and you'll notice in the number group here, and I'm using the mouse as a pointer right now, in the number group right here for comma format we see the letter K. Well at least it sort of sounds like K anyway doesn't it? So I'll press the letter K and watch what happens to the highlighted cells. We have that format. I wouldn't suggest that we're always going to be using this particular sequence in that order but at a different time, and here I am using the mouse, if these are highlighted I'm probably going to click the comma button but I could press Alt + H K.
Alt + H, K. And that could be relatively fast. And as you experiment with some of these too, you can imagine how these might be used, not because you're mouse isn't working because maybe it's going to be faster. Here's another example. I've got a list over here in columns A through G. It's a contiguous list, it's about 700 rows. Many of you are familiar with how to sort. I've got the active cell over in column A. How do we sort quickly? We could go to the Data tab, click the A Z button, it's done.
That's pretty fast. Reverse order, we don't do that very often but we can do that pretty fast too. How would we do this by using this alt technique? Active cell's over in column A, what's the letter associated with the Data tab? Alt + A and if we want to sort in ascending order, notice we see an SA, that's two letters, next to the A Z button, and SD, think of ascending and descending for these two buttons. SD for descending order. So I could press SA right now.
Now once again that might not seem so fast, as I go through the steps slowly. But in the future if I've got this written down and I start to remember it and use it more often, if I want to sort this list simply on the basis of what's in column C, I've got the active cell here. I'll press Alt + A. That will activate the Data tab and then I'll type SA. Alt + A, SA. Alt + A, SA. It's sorted, that's pretty fast. So it's up to you to perhaps explore if you're interested in this concept. Explore other command sequences that might make sense and using keystroke shortcuts sometimes is faster than using a mouse.
So it's a technique not exactly obvious but one that we could be using with some real speed here and it's almost like using a macro in some cases. We're using a series of keystrokes to perform a series of actions very quickly.
- Creating charts with keystroke shortcuts
- Expanding and collapsing ribbon and full-screen views
- Display shortcuts
- Efficiently navigating between workbooks and worksheets
- Selecting entire rows, columns, regions, and worksheets
- Data entry and editing shortcuts
- Rapidly creating formulas
- Operational and formatting shortcuts
- Data management techniques