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Alice Keeler

20 Most Important Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Sheets

Drop the mouse! Rock the Google Sheets spreadsheet with these 20 important keyboard shortcuts for Google Sheets.
20 Most Important Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Sheets

Using keyboard shortcuts can help teachers save time and be more efficient when using Google Sheets. Keyboard shortcuts allow you to perform tasks more quickly than using a mouse or trackpad. This can be especially helpful if you need to do a lot of formatting or data entry. Using them can help reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries that can be caused by excessive mouse use. Keyboard shortcuts can be easier to remember than mouse-based commands, especially if you use them frequently. This can save you time and effort in the long run. Streamline your workflow, allowing you to get more done in less time. This can be especially helpful if you have a lot of tasks to complete in a short period of time.Using keyboard shortcuts can help you stay focused and minimize distractions, since you don’t need to move your hand away from the keyboard to use a mouse. Here are 20 important keyboard shortcuts for Google Sheets

Alice Keeler Google Sheets

10 Important Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Sheets

1. Ctrl + C: Copy selected cells

Control C is hugely important for ANY application, but in particular it is important in Google Sheets. This is because it does not just copy the cell….

Control C copies the formula.

Think of the formula in cell C1:
=A1+B1
This says to take the cell 2 to the left and add it to the cell one to the left.

When you use Control V to paste into say cell F56 then what it will add is not A1 and B1 but rather D56 + E56.

Spreadsheet keyboard shortcuts mug from my friend Linda.

2. Ctrl + A: Select all cells in the sheet

I love Control A. Select ALL! So useful in so many places. Very useful in a spreadsheet. I select all and then apply word wrap to the entire spreadsheet.

3. Escape Key: Cancel what I am doing

BEFORE I press enter I might realize… oops, wrong cell. Or some other thing I did not mean to do. Somehow, this comes up a LOT. Pressing the Esc key will cancel what I am doing and put it back the way it was.

4. Ctrl + Z: Undo last action

If I didn’t catch that I was making a mistake WHILE I was making the mistake, no worries. Control Z to the rescue. Using Google Sheets, especially with a trackpad, makes Control Z a necessity. It’s just too easy to accidentally lean on the keyboard and delete entire portions of your spreadsheet.

Control Z only works if you catch the mistake while you’re still editing in the same session. If you closed the spreadsheet, you can not use Control Z to undo past mistakes. You can however, use version history to roll the entire spreadsheet back to a previous version. You can also right click on a cell to choose “cell history.” Cell history won’t allow you to roll that cell backwards, but you can see what the previous value was and manually restore it if you so desire.

5. Ctrl + Y: Redo last action

Did I like the change I just made? Control Z to undo what I just did and Control Y to put it back. This way I can toggle between the two and decide which way I like it better.

6. Ctrl + D: Fill down

Single click on a cell with a formula. Now use Control D to fill down instead of trying to clumsily grab the fill down square in the bottom right corner of the cell. I mean seriously, that fill down square is SMALL! How far does the spreadsheet fill down?

Normally when you double click on the fill down square it matches the values to the column next to it. So if you have 30 rows of data and then use Control D to fill DOWN (not up) then it will match just those 30 rows. IF the column next to it has a blank cell… say cell C17, but there is text in C18, the fill down will fill to row 17.

Instead, if you highlight a vertical range of cells and use Control D it will fill in, and even overwrite, the cells that were highlighted with the value. Even if the value to the left is blank.

7. Ctrl + R: Fill right

It is not uncommon that I work left to right in a spreadsheet and not just top to bottom. Try Control R. Now in every other application, Control R is refresh. So if you want to refresh your Google Sheet you can’t use the traditional Control R. Write a formula or value in a cell. HIGHLIGHT to the right the cells you want to copy to. Now use Control R to force all of the cells to the right to take on that formula or value. It will even overwrite things in the highlighted cells.

8. Ctrl + Shift + V: Paste special

Control SHIFT V is a lifesaver for pasting. How many times have you copied something and when you pasted it into the spreadsheet it is funky? Use Control Z to undo that and then use Control SHIFT V to try again. Pasting special is something I use every day.

Control shift v is an Important Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Sheets

Paste special also will strip formulas. Let’s say I have first name in column A and last name in column B. I use =A1&B1 to concatenate the first and last name together. Then I fill down to make the entire list of names concatenated. The problem is, that list is formulas not values. Copying and pasting the column onto another sheet will not produce a list of the names as intended. Instead, when pasting values that were created from formulas, use Control Shift V to paste special.

Paste special will paste the values and get rid of the formulas.

9. Ctrl + Space: Select Column

If you click on the column indicator in Google Sheets it will highlight the entire column. If you use the keyboard shortcut Control Space it will highlight the range of cells in the column that line up to the range of cells next to it. VERY helpful when dealing with a list.

10. Ctrl + ;: Insert current date

How many times a day do you enter a date into a spreadsheet? This is a hugely common task. Now… what is the date today?? This is a keyboard shortcut worth learning. Control and the Semicolon key (;). It just puts the month, day, year (no time).

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10 More Important Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Sheets

11. Ctrl + Shift + ;: Insert current time

Include the Shift key in your Control Semicolon and you ONLY get the time. Not the date. Super helpful if you’re tracking students going to and coming back from the bathroom.

12. Ctrl + Shift + F: Compact Controls

The Google Sheets logo takes up a lot of room at the top of the spreadsheet. Using Control Shift F will take away the visibility of the top part of the spreadsheet. More screen space for the win!

13. Ctrl + Shift + H: Find and replace

Control F find is awesome, but what if you want to change all the instances of a certain value to a different value? Such as changing all the Robert values to Bob.

Control Shift H will bring up Find and Replace. The default is to search “All sheets.” If you only want to replace the value in the one sheet, be sure to change from the drop down menu. If you are looking for the word “Robert” to replace with “Bob” do you want only cells that are exactly Robert, or CONTAIN Robert? Default is contains. Check the checkbox “Match entire cell contents” if you want to only replace cells that are just “Robert.”

14. Alt + Up Arrow: Go to Previous Sheet

Want to cycle through your sheets? Hold down the ALT key and use the up and down arrows. Super fun.

15. Ctrl + Alt + M: Insert comment

I have this keyboard shortcut down COLD!! Muscle memory on this is essential. You want to give students feedback? You need to insert comments. This works in Google Docs and also Google Sheets.

Control Alt M keyboard shortcut for Google Sheets

16. Alt + Shift + 3: Bottom Border

If you are wanting some border on the selected range of cells why try to find the borders icon in the toolbar when you can use Alt Shift 3?! Try it out!

17, Ctrl + U: Underline

Strangely underline is NOT an option in the toolbar. Luckily the keyboard shortcut is easy to remember since Underline starts with a U. Control U will do the trick.

18. Ctrl + Shift + 3: Format the Cell

Hold down the Control and Shift key and start hitting the numbers 1 to 6. Each will format the cell quickly.

  1. decimal
  2. time
  3. date
  4. currency
  5. percentage
  6. exponent (scientific notation)

19. Ctrl + F11: Add a new sheet

Your Google Sheets workbook probably needs multiple “pages” or sheets. Add a new one quickly with Control F11.

20. Ctrl + Alt + 9: Hide Row

To hide a row you need to right click on the row indicator and choose to hide row. It’s tricky business really. Hide the row faster with Control Alt 9.

21. @: Smart chip

In any cell start by typing the @ symbol. This will give you an option for adding smart chips, which is a transformation on how we interact with digital documents. My particular favorite smart chip is drop downs to indicate status.

Do Not Use the Mouse

Every time you use the mouse or trackpad while using Google Sheets you are slowing yourself down. Get some Super Sticky Post It™ notes and pick ONE keyboard shortcut of the week. Before long you are really rocking the spreadsheet!

Keyboard shortcuts are a quick and easy way to perform tasks in Google Sheets without the need for a mouse or trackpad. With just a few keystrokes, you can copy and paste cells, fill down or fill right, insert the current date or time, and much more. Keyboard shortcuts can help you work more efficiently, save time, and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries. Some of the most useful keyboard shortcuts for Google Sheets include Ctrl + C to copy cells, Ctrl + V to paste cells, and Ctrl + Z to undo the last action. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user of Google Sheets, learning and using keyboard shortcuts can greatly improve your productivity.

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