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In this lesson, we cover shortcuts you can use to move the active cell in a selection.


In this video, we'll cover shortcuts for working with the active cell.

As I mentioned earlier, every worksheet has an "active cell", which you can see displayed in the name box.

When the active cell is off-screen, you can scroll it into view, without actually changing the active cell, using Control + backspace on Windows, and Command + Delete on a Mac.

If you extend this selection in any direction, you'll see that the active cell doesn't change. Only the selection changes.

However, when you make a new selection, the active cell will update.

When you have multiple cells selected, you can move the active cell anywhere you like without affecting the selection itself.

To move the active cell down, use the enter key, and to move it up, use shift + enter.

To move the active cell right, use tab. And to move the active cell left, use shift + tab.

You can rotate the active cell through the 4 corners of your selection using Control + period. This is a handy shortcut, as we'll see in a minute.

With multiple cells selected, you can always reduce your selection to the active cell only by pressing Shift + Backspace on Windows, and Shift + Delete on a Mac.

When you have multiple selections on the worksheet, you can move the active cell to each selection using Control + Alt + and the right or left arrow in Windows. On a Mac, the shortcut is Control + Option plus the right or left arrow.

Let me show you how working with the active cell can be helpful.

In this worksheet, we have a set of employee data, which is summarized by this pivot table. You can see that we have data for 300 employees.

In a second sheet, I have a set of updated employee data that I'll use to replace the original data.

After I copy the new data and paste it over the old data, I want to be sure that I've actually replaced all the original data.

I don't know whether the new data contains more or fewer employees.

By using Control + period to move the active cell to the bottom of the paste range, I can easily see that the new data contains fewer employees...the selection created by paste falls short by 7 rows.

This makes it easy for me to see and delete the extra rows.

When I refresh the pivot table, you can see the new count is 293, as expected.

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Dave Bruns

Hi - I'm Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.