10 obscure Excel tricks that can expedite common chores

1: Select All with one click

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Over the years, each new version of Excel has introduced some nifty features. However, buried within Excel are lots of cool features that too few users have discovered. If you (or your users) perform certain tasks every time you use Excel, you'll want to make sure you're taking advantage of these time-saving shortcuts.

Version note

These tips apply to Excel 2003, although most of them work the same way in earlier versions of Excel.

The next time you need to select an entire worksheet, click the little gray box in the top-left corner of the sheet. It's the space above the row numbers and to the left of the column letters.

Why would you want to select the entire worksheet? Let's count some of the ways:
  • With the entire worksheet selected, you can copy it from one workbook (XLS file) and then paste it into a worksheet in a different workbook. Selecting the whole worksheet ensures you won't accidentally miss something. Note: If you want to make a copy of a worksheet within the same book, just right-click on the worksheet tab, choose Move or Copy, then select the Create A Copy check box.
  • With the entire worksheet selected, you can quickly and easily change the font in all cells or apply formatting to all cells.
  • With the entire worksheet selected, you can double-click on any line separating two column letters or the line separating any two rows. Doing so tells Excel to adjust the width of the columns or the height of the rows to accommodate the data in the cells, which is very helpful if you've just shrunk (or enlarged) the font size of the text in your cells.
  • There are, of course, other ways to select all the cells in a worksheet. If you're a keyboard person, press [Ctrl]A. If you're a menu person, go to Edit | Select All.