Enter data in cells and edit cell contents

How many times do you press Enter to input or edit data in a cell?

Speed up your workflow by looking at what happens next, and how to make the Enter key select the right cells.


This is a well travelled tip.

The Quick Tip shows how to move around your worksheet in different directions after entering data in a cell.

The Bonus Tip helps you control how data is entered within the cell.

Extending this tip using the Expert Tip makes it quicker to enter data in multiple cells.

We hope you find these tips useful.

Excel Quicker!

Quick Tip

Save time by choosing which cell to select next after entering data

When you press Enter to input or edit a cell, it automatically selects the next cell down. Here’s how to select a different cell instead.

5 easy shortcuts to select the right cell after entering data

You can use these keyboard shortcuts to enter data in the current cell, depending on which cell you want selected next:

Enter data into the current cell and select…Shortcut
The cell below the current cell
(Next row, same column)
The cell above the current cell
(Previous row, same column)
Shift + Enter
The current cell
(Same row, same column)
Ctrl + Enter
The cell to the right of the current cell
(Same row, next column)
The cell to the left of the current cell
(Same row, previous column)
Shift + Tab
Keyboard shortcuts to enter data in the current cell and select the next cell in any direction

Using these shortcuts, you can select the next cell in any direction.

You can remember these shortcuts with this diagram:

Diagram showing active cell movement
Diagram showing active cell movement

Change the default selection movement after pressing Enter

If you prefer, you can change these by adjusting the settings in Excel.

Take control over what the Enter key does by changing the setting so it’s right for you.

Total time: less than 1 minute.

How to change the default cell selection movement after pressing Enter in Microsoft Excel:

  1. Open the Excel Options dialog.

    Select Options from the File menu.To access advanced options for working with Excel, choose Options from the File menu

  2. Open the Advanced pane.

    Click on Advanced in the menu on the left.Select Advanced from the tabs pane on the left

  3. Check or uncheck “After pressing Enter, move selection” to change the behavior.

    Unchecked will keep the current cell selected. Checked will move the selection (you can choose “Down”, “Right”, “Up” or “Left”). By default this is checked, with “Down” selected. Setting titled After pressing Enter, move selection direction

In older versions, this is called “Move selection after Enter”, and is found in the “Edit” tab of the “Options” dialog, accessible from the “Tools” menu.

Got a new installation that is not acting like you are accustomed to? Just change the setting to the way you prefer it to work.

Setting for direction to move active cell after entering data
Setting for direction to move active cell after entering data

Changes to default settings affect computers, not spreadsheet files

This setting relates to the Excel installation, not to individual files or workbooks.

If you adjust this setting, you will need to adjust it again each time you switch to a different computer.

When you share files with others, this setting will not be transferred; instead, it is inherited from the system that is opening the file.


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