0022 Excel Shortcuts: How to Copy and Paste Column Widths

After painstakingly changing your column widths, there’s no need to do that work over again. Just use the shortcut I’m about to teach you to copy and paste the column width in a snap!

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Full Video Transcript:

If you’re anything like me, you probably spent the better half of your adult life not knowing that you could copy and paste column widths in Excel.

Now that you know it’s possible, today I’m going to teach you exactly how to do it.

In the previous video, I showed you how to change column widths and row heights. You can actually go ahead and click on the link in the description in case you missed it.

Now that you’ve done that work already, I’m going to teach you how to copy and paste only the widths of the columns from one section to another, using a little something I like to call “Paste Special.” Since Microsoft calls it Paste Special too, that’s what we’ll all be calling it from here on out.

Paste Special’s one of those amazing things that, if you’re using it correctly, you’re saving yourself tons of time every single time that you’re using Excel, but if you don’t use it, you’re really missing out.

The key to it is to first choose and select the cell that has the quality that you want to it. For example, if I want to take this cell right here, and actually this entire column really, I’ll go ahead and expand the selection using CTRL + SPACE. I’ll do a little CTRL + C to copy it.

Now, I’m not going to paste the actual contents, but what I will do is paste the width of the column. I can go ahead and do CTRL + SPACE again to select this column here, or I can just choose a single cell and do CTRL + ALT + V. Now notice what happens. I threw an ALT in there. Instead of doing a regular paste with a CTRL + V, I’m using CTRL + ALT + V, which brings me to Paste Special.

And of course, the magic here completely is the column width. I can jump to this even quicker by using the ALT + W on the PC to get to that spot immediately. I’ll hit OK, and it’s now going to obviously give me an error message, because why not? In fact, that thing I said before, let’s make it width, and then it’s going to work. See, it’s always better to make it like to like. If you’re doing a whole column, then paste a whole column. Otherwise it’ll yell at you, basically.

That’s how you want to do it. I can hit ESC to get rid of these little borders here. It’s just showing it’s on the clipboard. The whole point is, you’re doing a Copy and a Paste Special with just the column width.

Let’s see this in the Mac. It’s very much the same thing. The whole point on the Mac is that instead of doing it with…let’s do, for example, over here. Same concept. I’ll do CTRL + SPACE to get the whole column, COMMAND + C to copy. I’ll do CTRL + SPACE to get this new column over here, and do CTRL + COMMAND + V to bring my Paste Special window up here.

The only difference is, I’m not going to do ALT, I’m going to do a fn + W. I hit the fn + W, it will get you to this spot right here. Then you do OK, and it will apply that width to there as well. Hit ESC to get rid of that.

If you want to lock in this shortcut, then let’s go ahead and go to this exercise, where you’re actually going to take the original column width over here, you’re going to copy it, and you’re going to paste it over to these.

It’s really, really simple, but the whole point is to get it to look like it does on the right. Use that shortcut and then do it as many times as you need to until you can do it with your eyes closed. Enjoy.

Don’t forget to visit excelshir.com where you can download these exercises, along with other free resources such as keyboard shortcut cheat sheets for both PC and Mac.

Thanks for watching. See you next time, and remember, every journey begins with a first step. May I suggest that first step be to share the Excel love. I read it in a fortune cookie once. It was delicious.

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