Create Custom Excel Shortcuts (2 Ways)

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated March 24, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

Microsoft Excel has many built-in shortcuts as well as the ability to navigate and select in the Ribbon using the keyboard. However, you may also want to write your own keyboard shortcuts for specific commands.

Unfortunately, Excel doesn't offer a keyboard assignments command similar to the one available in Microsoft Word. In Word, you can assign keyboard shortcuts through the Options command on the File tab. In the Customize Ribbon category, there is a Keyboard Shortcuts Customize button that is not available in Excel.

Recommended article: 10 Excel Data Entry Tricks and Shortcuts Every User Should Know

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So, you have a couple of options in Excel. You can add buttons to the Quick Access toolbar (which are automatically assigned Alt shortcuts) or you can write a macro using the Macro Recorder.

1. Creating a keyboard shortcut by customizing the Quick Access Toolbar

To customize the Quick Access Toolbar and create keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon and then click on Options.
  2. Click the Quick Access Toolbar category on the left.
  3. From the drop-down menu under Choose commands from, select All Commands.
  4. Click the button you want to add.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Continue adding buttons.
  7. If you want to re-order buttons, click the button in the Customize Quick Access toolbar pane on the right and click the Move Up or Move Down arrow buttons.
  8. Click Close.

Commands appear in the Excel Options dialog box:

Microsoft Excel dialog to customize Quick Access Toolbar.

Once you have added the desired buttons, Excel assigns keyboard shortcuts automatically to the buttons based on the order in the Quick Access Toolbar. For example, the first button can be accessed by pressing Alt and then 1, the second button by pressing Alt and then 2 and so on.

2. Creating a macro with a keyboard shortcut using the Macro Recorder

You can also add a keyboard shortcut by recording a macro. In Excel, you can record a macro to automate specific actions and you can assign a keyboard shortcut to the macro. To keep things simple, we'll use the Record Macro button on the View tab in the Ribbon.

You'll be using the Record Macro dialog (below) to create keyboard shortcuts:

Microsoft Excel Macro Recorder dialog box.

To create a macro and assign a keyboard shortcut:

  1. Open the file you want to use or create a new workbook.
  2. Click the View tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Macros and select Record Macro. A dialog box appears.
  4. Under Macro Name, name the macro (no more than 255 characters and do not include spaces or begin with a number or an underscore).
  5. Under Shortcut key, enter a keyboard shortcut. For example, type Shift + H (this would assign Control + Shift + H as the shortcut). By adding Shift, you are less likely to create the same shortcut as a built-in Excel shortcut.
  6. Under Store macro in, choose This Workbook, New Workbook or Personal Macro Workbook. For global shortcuts, save the macro in the Personal Macro Workbook which is launched on startup and is hidden by default. If you store a macro in another workbook, it will need to be open to run the macro.
  7. Under Description, you can enter a description.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Perform the actions you want to record. For example, click Paste on the Home tab, choose Paste Special and then click on Values in the dialog box. All of your actions are being recorded.
  10. Click the View tab, click on Macros and then select Stop Recording.
  11. Try pressing the keyboard shortcut combination that you assigned to run the macro.

When you use the Macro Recorder, Excel writes the code for the macro using VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). If a macro you created in the Personal Macro Workbook doesn't work as expected, you will probably want to delete it.

To delete a macro that is stored in the Personal Macro Workbook, you will need to unhide the workbook first. To unhide the Personal Macro Workbook, click Unhide on the View tab, click Personal and click OK. To delete a macro, click Macros on the View tab and choose View Macros. Click on the macro you want to delete and click Delete. Be sure to hide the Personal Macro Workbook again using Hide on the View tab.

If you have displayed the Developer tab in the Ribbon, Record Macro as well as other useful buttons appear in this tab as well.

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This article was first published on February 13, 2017 and has been updated for clarity and content.

More resources

How to Fill Blank Cells in Excel with a Value from a Cell Above

How to Use Flash Fill in Excel to Clean or Extract Data (Beginner's Guide)

How to Quickly Delete Blank Rows in Excel

Related courses

Microsoft Excel: Intermediate / Advanced

Microsoft Excel: Data Analysis with Functions, Dashboards and What-If Analysis Tools

Microsoft Excel: Introduction to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)


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