0023 Excel Shortcuts: How to Highlight Cells (Change Background Color) (PC Only)

Most people either highlight their spreadsheets way too much, or far too little.

But today, you’re going to learn the fastest and most effective PC Excel Shortcut to draw attention to specific areas of your spreadsheet.

(Valid on PC only. Sorry MAC users)

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Full Video Transcript:

This shortcut is the quickest, most effective way to draw someone’s attention to a cell or a range of cells. And now, you can finally do it with the keyboard if you’re on a PC. Sorry, Mac users.

Highlighting cells is important not just to make your spreadsheet look pretty, but to show your data in a clean, professional, and clear way that gets your message across.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many spreadsheets I’ve received that were complete eyesores. In fact, I can’t remember the last clean-looking spreadsheet I ever got.

So, if you think about it, if you’re highlighting everything, then all of a sudden, nothing stands out, so don’t be that person. Be very clean with your highlighting cells, and today, I’m going to show you not only how to do it, but how to do it efficiently and quickly.

On the PC, you’re going to have a whole bunch of ways to access the highlighting, all starting with the ALT + H, right? ALT is going to get us to the top here. ALT + H for Home, and then we’re going to go to H for Highlight Cells, and then we have a bunch of choices. So, we can actually go ahead and use the UP and DOWN arrows to choose the color we want and hit ENTER once we find that choice that we like.

It’s a little bit more manual, but there’s no other way to jump to the color you want specifically, unless of course, you’re doing something like ALT + H + H + N. Notice the N over here for No Fill, which actually removes it. In this case, a white background, which is not the same as everything else, so I don’t want that either.

The last choice is ALT + H + H + M for More colors, which brings us to this little popup where we have a whole bunch of choices and we can get very, very specific with the color scale, or we can choose from a list of standard colors, or actually get very exact, so that’s a nice way to do it.

Unfortunately, on the Mac, there are no keyboard shortcuts and you can’t even customize it, but what you can do is use the top Home ribbon and click on the Highlight Cells and do it the way that you’ve probably been doing it until now, because that’s the only option.

There’s not a whole lot to remember, because everything corresponds, so you’re going to highlight the cells, and then you’re going to go ahead and do No Fill, and M for More colors, so it’s all very straightforward.

There’s a bunch of other bonus shortcuts that all have to do with ALT + H + H + M, all to do with this screen here when you choose More colors. So, CTRL + PGDN will actually go to the next tab or CTRL + PGUP to go to the previous tab, things like that.

If you hit TAB, it’ll actually move to the next section. You can use the arrows and hit ENTER. It gets very fancy. You don’t have to worry too much about it, but it actually navigates within this window, and this is true, also, for many other popups that come up on your computer, so it’s kind of cool.

I’m going to hit ESC to get out of this, but what we cannot escape from is reinforcing these concepts, and we’re going to do that with exercises I’ve created for just this purpose. You’re welcome.

We’re going to go to this tab over here, and we’re going to see how we highlight the cells we want in the colors that we want. So, choose the cells here and go to your ALT + H + H and find that blue, whatever corresponding color we’re going for here. I believe it’s this one. I’m little colorblind, so I don’t know. I think that looks good, right?

The point is to make the left section over here look identical to the example on the right, so go ahead and follow those to the end, to fruition. You’ll notice here if you do No Fill, you might see some lines from borders. That’s because that’s the gridline that’s been there all along in the background, but in fact, when we’re using colors on these cells, it looks like we don’t have them anymore. So, if you see them again, that’s not a bad sign. That actually means that it’s working correctly. Don’t freak out.

The last one here is to choose exact colors using the More colors, and in fact, there’s a red, green, blue color scheme here for all of it. I’m sure you’ll do great. Have fun with that.

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 as a diehard Star Wars fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you with this parting thought. May the force be with you as you’re sharing the Excel love.

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