How to Make Your Own Excel Keyboard Shortcuts the Easy Way

Ben Stegner 25-02-2016

Full proficiency in Microsoft Office demands the use of shortcuts, and we’ve shown you how to find every keyboard shortcut you could ever need. If you’ve exhausted that list and still found some functionality that doesn’t have a corresponding keyboard shortcut, you might be wondering if you’re out of luck.


The good news is that you’re not out of luck! Excel supports custom shortcuts, and we’ll show you how to create your own today. Get ready to take your shortcut-fu to the next level!

A Note on Default Keyboard Shortcuts

Unfortunately, it’s not all good news in the custom shortcut realm. While Microsoft Word lets you customize your own keyboard shortcuts Set Up Custom Shortcut Keys in MS Word & Make a Cheat Sheet Read More , Excel doesn’t offer the functionality to override standard shortcuts. There are three main types of keyboard shortcuts:

So, while you can’t manipulate any of the default shortcuts, you can still access quite a bit of functionality on the Ribbon and using macros; thus we’ll use those options to make custom shortcuts. Even though they’re not custom, you should still take some time to review the top everyday shortcuts for Excel 35 Everyday Microsoft Excel Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows & Mac Keyboard shortcuts can save you a lot of time! Use these Microsoft Excel shortcuts to speed up working with spreadsheets on Windows and Mac. Read More , too.

1. The Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) is a super helpful strip of commands that always stays at the top of your screen. By default it only includes a few commands such as save, undo, and redo (which can be removed since they already have accessible shortcuts), but you can add many more commands to the QAT How to Customize the MS Office 2010 Quick Access Toolbar The Quick Access Toolbar has been a part of MS Office since the 2003 version, but it has come to the forefront since the introduction of MS Office 2007 and more prominently with MS Office... Read More .

The best part? Remember that Alt codes let you access anything on the Ribbon How To Tweak The Windows And Office Ribbon Menu That pesky Ribbon Menu. Ever since its introduction in Office 2007, I’ve been struggling to come to terms with it. I much preferred the Office 2000/2003 method of “hiding” tools that you don’t use often... Read More . If you press ALT, you should notice the pop-up keys also appear near the QAT, giving you a one-step shortcut to any Excel command you wish!


To get the bar set up to your liking 9 Simple Tweaks to Customize Excel to Your Needs Excel is a powerful tool, but it gets even better when you can customize it to your needs. Some of its best options are hidden inside and we draw back the curtain for you. Read More , click the drop-down arrow to the far right of the current icons and choose More commands… to open the customization window. Here, you’ll see a list of available commands in the left box and your current QAT commands on the right.

If you’d like, you can click any command on the right and click the Remove button to toss it, or use the arrow buttons to the right of the box to re-order the current items. Once you’ve got that sorted, check out the left box to find commands you want to add.

By default, the drop-down box above will only be showing the Popular Commands, but you can change it to Commands Not in the Ribbon if you want to avoid duplicating what’s already on the Ribbon. You can also show All Commands, but be warned there’s quite a list.

Have a look through the list and select any functions that you want to have instant access to. The QAT allows for lots of commands, so don’t be afraid to pick several of your favorites or even find some new features 8 Things You Can Do in Office That You Never Thought Of Microsoft Office turns the Pareto Principle on its head: 80% of its users only use 20% of the features. Time to rediscover Microsoft Office features you never considered. We have compiled eight insanely useful productivity... Read More . If you want to create groupings of similar functions, there’s an option called <Separator> that lets you add a divider between icons.


If you want to preserve your work, you can use the Import/Export button on the page to export your customizations to a file. Once you’ve got everything in order, just click OK to return to Excel with your new and improved QAT. When you want to access one of its functions, press ALT followed by the number of the command to execute it right away.

This is a lot faster and way less annoying 5 Tricks to Disable Annoyances and Improve Office 2013 Microsoft Office 2013 has been available for some months now, and as is always the case with a new release there are a few quirks and annoyances that have led to users wondering if they... Read More than hunting through menus to find the right command!

2. Macros

Macros are an extremely useful, but often overlooked feature of Office that allow you to record a series of actions and automatically play them back. If you have trouble remembering complex formulas Need Help with Excel Formulas? 7 Resources to Consult Excel is the spreadsheet gold standard. If you are required to use Excel and yet have to familiarize yourself with it, these resources will quickly introduce you to the basics and more. Read More , for example, you could create a macro to automatically apply the formulas to specific cells.

Macros are really just Visual Basic code running How You Can Make Your Own Simple App With VBA Want to know how to make your own VBA application to solve problems? Use these tips to build your own VBA software. Read More in the background to make Excel perform actions, but you don’t have to know how to program How to Learn Programming Without All the Stress Maybe you've decided to pursue programming, whether for a career or just as a hobby. Great! But maybe you're starting to feel overwhelmed. Not so great. Here's help to ease your journey. Read More to take advantage of macros. To get started with using them, enable the Developer Ribbon tab by going to File > Options and choose Customize Ribbon on the left pane. On the right side, make sure Developer is checked, then press OK to return.


Now we can record our first macro. Head to the Developer tab on the Ribbon and choose Record Macro. Give it a name to remember it by (it can’t have spaces) and then assign it a key that works for you. The box shows CTRL + another key, but you can also add Shift in there by holding it while you select a key. Bear in mind that you can override standard keyboard shortcuts Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101: The Ultimate Guide Keyboard shortcuts can save you hours of time. Master the universal Windows keyboard shortcuts, keyboard tricks for specific programs, and a few other tips to speed up your work. Read More here, so if you make your macro run on CTRL + Z you won’t be able to use that to Undo.

Under Store macro in: select Personal Macro Workbook. This is a file that allows you to share macros between Excel workbooks, which is perfect for defining shortcuts. If we wanted to run macros on only one workbook, we would change this setting. Give your macro a brief description if you like, then click OK.

Important: Now, everything you do is being recorded by the macro. Any cell you select, font changes you apply, or characters you type are recorded by the macro. So you could, for example, make a macro that selects cell B3, types “test,” and formats it as bold. Once you’ve performed exactly the action you want to record, select Stop Recording on the Developer tab to end the macro.

After this, you can access it by choosing Macros from the left side of the Developer tab. This shows you a list of your macros, and you can press Edit to view the Visual Basic code for the macro — this is a good way to make sure you didn’t record any extra steps, even if you don’t fully understand the code 8 Tried & True Tips For Learning How To Code Skilled programmers have been in high demand for years now, and it doesn’t look like that demand is about to go down anytime soon. But even if you don’t intend to make a living as... Read More . Once you’re satisfied, you can press the key combo you assigned at any time to run your macro.


Bonus tip: You can combine macros and the QAT! Once you’ve saved a macro, open up the QAT menu again and change the Choose commands from box to Macros. Look for the name of the one you like, and you can add it to the QAT just like any other action! Thus, if you have trouble remembering your macro shortcut combos, you can set them to ALT and a number in the QAT!

What you do with macros is up to you, but there are tons of possibilities 7 Fun & Weird Things You Can Create With Microsoft Excel Imagine Excel was fun! Excel offers plenty of scope for projects that go beyond its intended use. The only limit is your imagination. Here are the most creative examples of how people are using Excel. Read More . Think of anything you do in Excel on a regular basis that could be automated, and try making a macro for it. Automating these tedious tasks could save you hours, if you started using them regularly!

What Are Your Top Shortcuts?

Now you don’t have to waste time pecking out repetitive tasks or hunting through Excel menus to find that one function. Shortcuts take a while to set up and will differ for everyone, but they’re essential for Excel efficiency. Macros really aren’t scary once you’ve done them, and there’s no reason not to use the QAT. Shortcuts rule!

Don’t let your shortcut reign now! Check out the top keyboard shortcuts for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and if you use a Mac, take a look at these custom keyboard shortcuts you can use on macOS 15 Custom Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac You Should Start Using macOS gives you the power to create custom keyboard shortcuts for any app. Here are several you should start using. Read More .

What shortcuts have you created with these methods? I’m looking forward to hearing about your best macros in the comments!

Image Credit: holding sticky note by GooDween123 via Shutterstock

Related topics: Keyboard Shortcuts, Microsoft Excel.

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  1. sleightahand
    February 25, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    I use autohotkey for excel and everything else for that matter.

    • Denis
      November 25, 2018 at 12:43 am

      AutoHotkey has no limits when it comes to automation in Windows, but for many users who may only need simple keyboard shortcuts, installing and learning AutoHotkey, and keeping up to date, can be overkill. ShortKeeper can be used to manage an AutoHotkey-based system in a way most non-programmers will find remarkably user-friendly and effective. And it’s also free