How to Be Lazy at Excel: 7 Great Tricks
You may have heard the saying “lazy workers are the best, because they find the quickest way to complete their work”.
They’re definitely right.
And the saying is absolutely true for Microsoft Excel.
You can be incredibly lazy at Excel if you want to.
Lazy people know how to get things done very quickly.
They know the easiest ways to complete tasks, without thinking too hard or wasting any time.
In this post you’ll learn a huge range of ways to be lazy at Excel.
Learn these tricks, and you’ll learn that you can forget a lot of things that you had to remember.
- What you will learn
- 1. Forget remembering where the current file is saved
- 2. Forget trying to remember which cells contain formulas
- 3. Jump to the cells that relate to the current formula
- 4. Forget typing the SUM() function
- 5. Stop using CONCATENATE() !
- 6. Use Excel’s Autocomplete function (because you’re lazy)
- 7. Throw away your mouse
What you will learn
- That you don’t really need to remember all that much in Excel
- Simple, smart tricks and shortcuts that you can easily implement
- That’s it!
1. Forget remembering where the current file is saved
You’re almost finished working on an Excel file, and you need to drop it into an email to send to a friend.
But you can’t remember where the file is saved!
Well, there’s a really quick formula you can enter in Excel to pull up the location of the file.
The CELL() function is rarely used in Excel, but it can provide various information about a specific cell depending on what you enter between the brackets.
Enter =CELL(“filename”) into any blank cell to output the full path location of the Excel file. If you haven’t saved the file yet, you will get a blank result.
CELL() is a fairly flexible function – if you want to know a full list of arguments that work with the CELL() function, try this link.
2. Forget trying to remember which cells contain formulas
Ever worked on a fairly complicated workbook, and need to quickly see which cells contain formulas?
You guessed it – there’s a shortcut for that.
Ctrl + ` is how to quickly toggle between showing the formula results and displaying the full formulas themselves.
And that symbol is just to the left of the ‘1’ key.
The shortcut turns this:
As an added bonus, whenever you select a cell that contains a formula, it will highlight any cells that are part of the formula.
3. Jump to the cells that relate to the current formula
You’re reviewing someone else’s Excel work.
And they’ve included a complicated formula based on some other values in the workbook, and you want to see which cells contribute to that formula.
There is a simple way to quickly select that cell (or cells).
That shortcut is Ctrl + [.
If the formula refers to multiple cells, then all of them will be selected.
Using this shortcut is an easy way to apply unique formatting to all of the inputs for your fancy financial model that you’ve been working on…
4. Forget typing the SUM() function
Summing up a range of values is one of the most popular tasks in Excel.
So why should you bother having to type out SUM() and select the cells you need? Why can’t Excel just do it instantly?
You might be noticing a trend here – Excel already does this.
The AutoSum shortcut is Alt + =.
That’s the Alt button and the “equals” button, just in case it looks confusing.
Just select the range you want to sum, hit Alt + =, and Excel will place the formula in the next available cell.
Alternatively, just select the next blank cell after the data, and Excel will automatically identify the range of cells to sum, and populate the formula like this:
If Excel can’t identify which values to sum together, the SUM() formula will still appear in the selected box. You can use the arrow keys select the right cells.
Now you’ll never have a reason to type SUM() again!
Although, if you just need to quickly see the value but not enter it anywhere, you can use the status bar to instantly see the result of SUM(), COUNT() and more. Find out here.
5. Stop using CONCATENATE() !
You probably know that you can use the CONCATENATE() function in Excel to join values together.
Entering the formula =CONCATENATE(“Excel”, “Efficiency”) will return the value ExcelEfficiency, for example.
But concatenate is a long word, and you don’t want to have to remember this. After all, you have work to do.
Here’s the trick:
You can use the “&” symbol instead of CONCATENATE() to join cells, values or text strings together.
So you could type =CONCATENATE(“The value of A1 is: “, A1), or you could type =”The value of A1 is: “&A1.
Just remember that if you want to enter strings text, you need to put quotation marks (“”) around them.
If you want to enter numbers or cell references, the quotes aren’t needed.
6. Use Excel’s Autocomplete function (because you’re lazy)
You can be so lazy at Excel that you don’t even have to type out the full names of functions!
When you start typing in the first few letters of a function, Excel will show the list of functions that you may be trying to enter.
The great thing about this list is that if you press Tab while typing, Excel will automatically complete the function name based on whatever is selected.
If multiple functions appear in the list, use the arrow keys to move up and down through the list.
So instead of typing in VLOOKUP, you can just enter “=VL” and press Tab and instantly move on to selecting the arguments in your formula. Excel will automatically include the opening bracket “(” so you can start entering in the arguments of the function.
7. Throw away your mouse
If you’ve made it this far through this post, you’ll learn a super-easy way to almost never use your mouse again when using Microsoft Excel.
This trick is the least specific, but definitely the laziest trick of all because it can be used for any task in Excel.
With this trick, you can keep your hands constantly on the keyboard, and get your Excel work done in no time.
Here’s how it works:
The way these shortcuts work is that you press the Alt key, then type a sequence of letters. These are different to the Ctrl-related shortcuts where you need to hold down multiple keys at the same time.
All options in the Excel Ribbon can be activated using an Alt-related shortcut. Depending on where it sits in the Ribbon, the letters you need to press will be different.
To find out what the Alt-related shortcut is for your favourite Excel command, just press the Alt key and look at the letters that appear on the Ribbon:
So press Alt-H will show the hotkey letters for everything on the Home tab, and then you can press the next key based on the specific command you want:
For example, if you want to enable Wrap Text for the currently selected cell, use the shortcut Alt-H-W.
The benefit of this is that you don’t need to take your hands off the keyboard, which is perfect for the majority of tasks in Excel.
And as a bonus: this trick will work on all other Office products, and will work on most other products in a PC running Windows as well.
With these seven tips, you can be seriously lazy in your Excel work.
Knowing these tricks, tips and shortcuts should massively reduce the overall time it takes for you to complete almost any task in Excel.
Which of these tips helps you become truly lazy at Excel?