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 complete tasks faster than using a mouse or trackpad. This can be especially useful if you need 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 so you can get more done in less time. This can be especially useful if you have a lot of tasks to complete in a short amount of time. Using keyboard shortcuts can help you stay focused and minimize distractions, since you don’t have to move your hand away from the keyboard to use a mouse. Here are 20 essential keyboard shortcuts for Google Sheets

Alice Keeler Google Sheets

10 Essential Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Sheets

1. Ctrl + C: Copy selected cells

Control C is hugely important for ALL applications, but it is especially important in Google Sheets. This is because it doesn’t just copy the cell….

Control C copies the formula.

Consider the formula in cell C1:
This says to take cell 2 on the left and add it to cell one on the left.

When you use control V to insert in e.g. 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’m doing

BEFORE I hit enter, I might realize… oops, wrong cell. Or another thing I had no intention of doing. Somehow this comes up A LOT. Pressing the Esc key will cancel what I’m doing and put it back to how it was.

4. Ctrl + Z: Undo last action

If I didn’t realize 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 erase entire sections of your spreadsheet.

Control Z only works if you spot the error while still editing in the same session. If you closed the spreadsheet, you cannot use Control Z to undo previous mistakes. However, you can use version history to roll back the entire spreadsheet to a previous version. You can also right click on a cell to select “cell history”. Cell History doesn’t allow you to scroll that cell backwards, but you can see what the previous value was and manually restore it if you wish.

5. Ctrl + Y: Repeat last action

Did I like the change I just made? Control Z to undo what I just did and control Y to undo it. This way I can switch between the two and decide which way I like it best.

6. Ctrl + D: Fill down

Single click on a cell with a formula. Now use control D to fill instead of clumsily trying to grab the fill square in the lower right corner of the cell. I mean seriously, that fill down square is TINY! How long is the spreadsheet?

Normally, when you double-click the fill square, it matches the values ​​for 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 only match those 30 rows. IF the column next to it has an empty cell… say cell C17, but there is text in C18, the padding down will fill to row 17.

If you instead highlight a vertical range of cells and use control D, it will fill and even overwrite the cells that were highlighted with the value. Even if the value on the left is empty.

7. Ctrl + R: Fill right

It is not uncommon for me to work from left to right in a spreadsheet and not just from top to bottom. Try Control R. Now in all other applications, Control R updates. So if you want to update your Google Sheet, you can’t use the traditional Control R. Type a formula or value in a cell. HIGHLIGHT on the right the cells you want to copy to. Now use Control R to force all the cells to the right to take over 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 insertion. How many times have you copied something and when you pasted it into the spreadsheet it was funky? Use Control Z to undo it, then use Control SHIFT V to try again. Inserting special is something I use every day.

Control shift v is an important keyboard shortcut for Google Sheets

Insert special will also remove formulas. Let’s say I have first name in column A and last name in column B. I use =A1&B1 to link the first and last name. Then I fill in to get the whole list of names together. The problem is that the list is formulas and not values. Copying and pasting the column onto another sheet will not produce a list of the names as intended. When inserting values ​​created from formulas, use Control Shift V instead to insert special.

Paste special will insert the values ​​and get rid of the formulas.

9. Ctrl + Space: Select column

Clicking on the column indicator in Google Sheets will highlight the entire column. If you use the Control Space keyboard shortcut, it will highlight the cell range in the column that is aligned with the adjacent cell range. VERY useful when dealing with a list.

Control Space is an important keyboard shortcut for Google Sheets.  in this image only D3 to D18 are highlighted.

10. Ctrl + ;: Insert current date

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

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10 More Essential Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Sheets

11. Ctrl + Shift + ;: Insert current time

Include the Shift key in your control semicolon and you get ONLY the time. Not the date. Super useful if you’re following students going to and coming back from the bathroom.

12. Ctrl + Shift + F: Compact control

The Google Sheets logo takes up a lot of space at the top of the spreadsheet. Using control shift F removes the visibility of the top part of the worksheet. More screen space for the win!

13. Ctrl + Shift + H: Find and replace

Control F-finding is great, but what if you want to change all occurrences 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 for “All Sheets”. If you only want to replace the value in one sheet, make sure to change from the dropdown menu. If you are looking for the word “Robert” to replace with “Bob”, do you only want cells that are exactly Robert or CONTAIN Robert? Standard is contains. Select the “Match entire cell contents” checkbox if you only want to replace cells that are only “Robert”.

Find and replace from Control Shift H. The default is all sheets and you can be careful to match the entire cell contents.

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.

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

Control Alt M keyboard shortcut for Google Sheets

16. Alt + Shift + 3: Bottom edge

If you want a border on the selected cell range, why try to find the border icon on the toolbar when you can use Alt Shift 3?! Try it!

17, Ctrl + U: Underline

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

No option for underlining in Google Sheets

18. Ctrl + Shift + 3: Format the cell

Hold down Ctrl and Shift and start pressing the numbers 1 through 6. Each will format the cell quickly.

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

19. Ctrl + F11: Add a new sheet

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

20. Ctrl + Alt + 9: Hide row

To hide a row, right-click on the row indicator and select hide row. It really is a difficult business. Hide the row faster with Control Alt 9.

21. @: Smart chip

Start by typing the @ symbol in any cell. This will allow you to add smart chips that are transforming how we interact with digital documents. My particular favorite smart chip is the drop downs to indicate status.

Do not use the mouse

Every time you use the mouse or trackpad while using Google Sheets, you slow down. Get some Super Sticky Post It™ notes and choose ONE keyboard shortcut of the week. Before long, you’ll really be up and running with the spreadsheet!

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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 or fill to the right, insert the current date or time, and 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’re new to Google Sheets or an experienced user, learning and using keyboard shortcuts can greatly improve your productivity.


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