Excel doesn’t allow you to view or specify keyboard shortcuts

February 1, 2012

One of the things I like about Word is that you can specify your own keyboard shortcuts for your macros and for functions that don’t already have a key combination. Or you can modify those that are already assigned in Word (though I wouldn’t advise it, because if you have to reinstall Word or you use someone else’s machine your keyboard shortcuts won’t work the same as the ones you’ve set up for your installation of Word).

Assigning keyboard shortcuts has been a feature in Word for years, and I just assumed that the other Office products would have similar functionality. Not so. I was alerted to this lack because of a comment on one of my blog postsCtrl+Shift+C activates the Format Painter in Word, but doesn’t do so in Excel, even though Excel also has the Format Painter function.

Microsoft Excel 2010 (and likely earlier versions), does NOT have any option available to view existing key combinations or to create your own. And on further investigation nor does PowerPoint 2010, Visio 2010, or Outlook 2010 (I didn’t check all the Office programs).

For example, here’s the Word 2010 screen with the option to assign a keyboard shortcut (found under File > Options > Customize Ribbon):

Word 2010 allows you to assign a keyboard shortcut

Word 2010 allows you to assign a keyboard shortcut

And here’s the same screen in Excel 2010 — nothing!:

Excel 2010 doesn't let you to assign a keyboard shortcut

Excel 2010 doesn't let you to assign a keyboard shortcut

I think this is a really big oversight by the Microsoft Office team. Those who use these products all day, every day, can be incredibly efficient using keystrokes instead of the mouse. I can’t believe that Microsoft has denied users the ability to add their own to existing functions.

Note: I understand that you can still assign a keyboard shortcut to a macro you create in Excel etc.

See also:

[Links last checked January 2012]


  1. Actually, you can add shortcut keys to macros. Hit Alt+F8, select the macro, and select “Options”.

  2. Nevermind – just saw the “Note” section. :)

  3. If there is no way to customize keyboard shortcuts then how is it that they can change? My CTRL+SHIFT+UP ARROW no longer works properly when I am writing a formula such as sum, sumproduct etc: When I begin to choose a data range, it jumps to the first data entry and completes the formula (as if I hit ENTER) with no range, just the first reference. It never did that before and I have no way of changing it back. HEEEELP!!!!

  4. Hi Dan

    Try asking this on the Microsoft Answers forum for Excel — someone there is bound to have had the same issue and there may be a workaround. Start here: http://answers.microsoft.com/


  5. Thanks, Rhonda. I keep trying that forum and others and I can’t find it! I don’t know how it got changed but it’s so annoying! Grrr.

  6. Thank you Sara. It worked!
    However, it’s a pity that it’s so different for applications supposed to belong to same suite.

  7. Have anyone found a solution?!?! I need to customize the short

  8. You can also add the needed action to Quick Access Toolbar and then you’ll need to press F10 and a number that’s already easier that doing it by mouse.

  9. An old issue, but it still applies in Excel 2013.
    With regard to previous versions: Excel 2003 certainly had the same flexibility as Word for customizing shortcuts, and all versions for Mac (through Excel 2011, current as I write this) also allow shortcut customization. It seems that for Excel, Microsoft threw it out the window along with menus. Why they kept it for Word and not for Excel is beyond me!

  10. Fast forward to 2016 and nothing has changed.

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