Hidden Excel Commands You Never Knew About
I get it – you’ve used Microsoft Excel for a long time.
You may even think of yourself as a wizard or a superstar when you use it.
When someone asks where a specific option is on the Excel Ribbon, you can find it at a moment’s notice and help out your friend or colleague with their current problem.
But what about the Excel commands that aren’t on the Ribbon?
I’m talking about the options that are hidden from users by default.
If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, you might want to keep reading.
With these hidden Excel commands, you’ll open up extra pieces of functionality that can make your life that little bit easier.
- How to find the list of hidden Excel commands
- The most useful hidden Excel commands
Here’s how it works:
Microsoft Excel contains a large number of commands and functions that aren’t visible on the Ribbon.
Some of them were easily visible in older versions of Excel, but were phased out over time and are now hidden away.
And some of these commands are options hidden within other menus or dialog boxes, like the Format Cells menu (shortcut Ctrl + 1, by the way).
It’s a shame: some of these commands are genuinely helpful and would be used by a lot of Excel users.
And the only way you can access these commands is by adding them to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).
What is the QAT?
The Quick Access Toolbar is the handy menu in the top left corner of your Excel window.
Here’s how mine currently looks:
There are two great benefits of the Quick Access Toolbar.
- You can quickly click on these commands, no matter what you’re doing in Excel.
- Each QAT item has a shortcut – the left-most one can be accessed with Alt+1, the next one is Alt+2, etc.
Customising the Quick Access Toolbar is just one of the tips in the FREE eBook “10 Simple Microsoft Excel Tips to Save You Time”. Get the free eBook now!
How to add commands to the Quick Access Toolbar
If you want to add or remove commands from the toolbar, click on the dropdown menu on the right side, and select “More Commands…”.
This will bring up a simple interface to customise the toolbar. On the left are the commands you can add, and on the right is your current list of commands in the QAT.
Double click an item to add it to your QAT. You can reorder items by clicking on the up or down arrows on the far right.
We aren’t done yet!
To get to those hidden Excel commands, you’ll want to click on the dropdown menu which says “Choose commands from:”. Select “Commands Not In The Ribbon”.
Now, the list on the left will contain a large number of commands that aren’t listed in the main Excel menu.
But there’s so many commands to choose from!
I agree. It’s a huge list, and most of these commands are fairly useless and rarely used.
Fortunately for you, the rest of this post contains some of the more useful ones that you might want to use.
I won’t lie to you: I didn’t test-drive all of the commands in this list.
But I did go through quite a lot of them to see how they worked in practice, and I ended up with the following 7 commands that you should consider adding to your QAT.
Give them a go, and let me know if there are any other commands you think are better!
In the Excel Ribbon, there are three alignment options in the Ribbon: Left, Centre and Right.
If you ever use Microsoft Word, you’ll know it contains a fourth alignment option called Justify – it spreads out the text so it sits neatly against the right side as well as the left.
This option is particularly handy if you have cells that have Wrap Text enabled.
Here’s a visual example of how it looks:
This one is perfect if you have a lot of data entry.
You may already know about this command if you use Excel Tables on a regular basis.
Select your data, click on the Form… button and you have a simple dialog box to enter in new data!
3. Any of the Paste Special shortcuts
If you’re constantly using the Format Painter, or any of the Paste Special commands (eg: Paste Values, Paste Formulas etc) then you might want to consider adding some of them to the toolbar.
When you’re scrolling through the huge list of commands, type ‘p’ to instantly jump to all of the commands that relate to pasting data:
Many of my colleagues use Excel for basic project management.
They had different styles for allocating tasks, including different methods of formatting etc.
One colleague had a habit of crossing out the text when a task was completed, using the Strikethrough format option.
But this was time-consuming, because they had to:
- Right click, and select Format Cells (alternatively, use Ctrl + 1)
- Click on the “Font” tab
- Select Strikethrough
Adding the Strikethrough function on the QAT reduced this down to one step.
Are you spending too much time formatting? Check out the Shortcut Roundup on Lightning-Quick Formatting.
5. Zoom In / Zoom Out
It’s a real shame that there’s no easy shortcut for zooming in and out in Microsoft Excel.
The closest thing we have is holding down Ctrl and using the scroll wheel on your mouse.
But if you really want to be efficient when using Excel, you’ll want a simple keyboard shortcut for it – and the QAT is the best way to set your own shortcuts.
It’s a good idea to put Zoom In and Zoom Out next to each other on the QAT, so that the Alt+[number] shortcuts are easy to remember.
The only downside to this command is that it zooms in and out in fairly big increments, between 25% / 50% / 75% / 100% / 200%. Depending on what you need, the scroll wheel on your mouse might be a better option.
6. Send to Mail Recipient
If you’re in a corporate environment and are constantly emailing files to your colleagues, seriously consider putting this in your Quick Access Toolbar.
I’ve recently applied this command to my QAT at work because it’s so helpful, and let’s me get on with my next job on my to-do list.
7. Joke option: Customize Quick Access Toolbar
If you really love playing around with the QAT that much, feel free to add the “Customize Quick Access Toolbar” command as a shortcut. How meta!
There are really no more excuses for clicking through layers of menus to find the Excel commands you use the most.
You can bring them all up to the surface by adding your favorites to the Quick Access Toolbar.
Which commands have you recently added to your QAT?