Excel has many dialog boxes that you will use frequently. These includes things like Format Cells, dialog boxes for find and replace, spelling, paste special, and many more. All of these dialogs support common features that let you drive them from the keyboard. To illustrate, we’ll look at the Format Cells dialog, which provides many options in a tabbed interface. First, notice this dialog has an active Tab, and this corresponds to the tab that was active the last time you used it. To switch tabs, you can use Control + tab to move right though the tabs. And, too reverse direction, just add the shift key. Controls in dialogs are highlighted subtly when active. Here you can see a dotted line. To step through available controls, use the Tab key. Just add shift to reverse direction. You can jump directly to any control in a dialog by pressing Alt then the underlined letter. So here,  Alt + O goes to font style Alt + S selects size Alt + C selects color Alt + F goes back to Font Checkboxes are toggled when you select with Alt + a letter. So, Alt K toggles strikethrough and Alt E toggles superscript And so on. When you have a list that’s already open (for example, fonts in this case) you can use the up and down arrow keys to make a selection, once that control is active. And, when you have a checkbox selected, you can toggle it on or off using the spacebar. For dropdown control, like color in this case, use the spacebar to open, and arrow keys to navigate selections. To confirm a selection, press either enter or the spacebar. Note that the buttons in a dialog box have a default selection. Here, OK is selected, which means that pressing Enter will accept settings and dismiss the dialog. You can tab to the buttons at the bottom of a dialog box as well. However, if you just want to cancel the dialog, without saving any changes, it’s easiest to press the Escape key.

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.