The Almighty Alt Key

mouseNow that you have mastered the keyboard shortcuts of last week, let’s learn how to never use your mouse again. Are you ready for this?

Learning the Alt key shortcuts is relatively simple when compared to the shortcuts we outlined last week. The tough part is the growing pains associated with parting with your mouse. Why is it so easy to learn? Because Excel shows you step by step what keys to press. Let’s demonstrate.

Let’s say we wanted to change the font size or our cell to 14 from 11.

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To get started, press the Alt key on your keyboard. You will notice that numbers and letters will appear on your Ribbon (I told you Excel would tell you what to do).

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Next, press the “H” key. This will take you to the Home tab. You could have also pressed the “N” or any of the other letters on the Ribbon to take your to the other tabs. Your ribbon should now look like this:


Note that every item on the Ribbon has a letter or number associated with it. To change the font size, just type “FS”, type the number 14, and press Enter. That’s it!

You may be thinking, “This takes much longer than using my mouse!” However, once you get accustomed to the Alt key and have your favorite functions down, this will save valuable time. In addition, your hands never need to leave the keyboard again! Be adventurous this week and start learning some of your favorite Ribbon functions.


The Power of Keyboard Shortcuts

keyboardIf you wanted to quickly insert a row, how would you go about doing that? If you are like most Excel users, you will use your mouse to click on the row, right click, and then select “Insert Row”. What if you wanted to quickly select all items in a column with 203,453 rows? Would you use your mouse to select and scroll alllll the way down?

Stop the madness! Never (at least rarely) use your mouse again! This will save you precious time and will amaze your co-workers. Using keyboard short cuts will make you look like a competitive ballroom dancer as you glide through Excel. You will make your mouse-using co-workers look like a 16 year old boy at prom.

Here is a great list that summarizes some of the most useful shortcuts. At a minimum, you should learn the following:

  • Select entire row = Shift + Spacebar
  • Select entire column = CTRL + Spacebar
  • Add row (after selection = CTRL + ALT + “+”
  • Delete row (after selection) = CTRL + “-“
  • Scroll to bottom of list = CTRL + Down Arrow
  • Select all items in a list = CTRL + Shift + Down Arrow

Once you learn those, try embarking on new and exciting keyboard shortcut adventures. For those who are looking for an African Safari, try learning to navigate the Ribbon using the Alt key (stay tuned for a post on this later).

Using keyboard shortcuts will take some time to learn. At first it will seem like it is taking longer than using the trusted mouse, but once you learn them, you will be shocked by how much time they save. Stay strong!