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This video comes from our online video training for Excel.

How to select visible cells only

In this video, we'll show how to select visible cells only. This is useful when you've hidden rows or columns and want to work only with cells that are actually visible.
Video Transcript 

By default when you select a range of cells in Excel, hidden cells are also selected. This means any data in hidden rows or columns is included when you copy a selection. Chances are, that's not what you want. In this video, we'll show you how to work with visible cells only.

Here we have a list of real estate properties. Let's say we want to give this list to someone else, but without the data in columns E through I.

We can easily hide these columns. But if we then select all the properties, copy, and paste into another worksheet, we get all of the data, including the data in columns that were hidden.

This is because Excel is selects both visible and hidden cells by default.

To get around this problem, we need to tell Excel to select only visible cells.

First, make the selection normally. Then on the home tab of the ribbon, click the Find & Select menu and choose Go To Special. In the Go To Special dialog, select Visible Cells Only.

[Mac: Edit > Go To > Special > Visible Cells Only]

You can now copy the selection, and paste. Only data in cells that were visible will be copied. Back in the original worksheet, we can verify the selection by unhiding the columns. Now you can see the moving dashed line around the cells that were copied. Notice the cells that were hidden are not included.

If that seems like a lot of steps, you'll be happy to know that Excel provides a keyboard shortcut for selecting visible cells:

For Windows, use Alt + ;
On a Mac, use Cmd Shift Z

Let's try it out. As before, we'll hide the columns, then make a normal selection. This time, we'll use Alt ; to change the selection to visible cells only.

Now we'll copy.

When we paste, we get only data from cells that were visible.

Dave Bruns