How to Quickly Select Data

In today’s post, I want to tell you about three of my favorite navigation shortcut keys. They are: CTRL+ARROW KEY, CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW KEY, and CTRL+SHIFT+END. When I have to move quickly around my spreadsheet, these are total lifesavers.


CTRL+ARROW KEY

CTRL+ARROW KEY let’s you jump to the end of your data set. For example, if you wanted to jump to the last row of your data, or to the last column of your data, you can use this trick. For Mac users, use COMMAND instead of CTRL.

Let’s try practice with this data set below. Download my practice worksheet to follow.

Put your cursor anywhere in the data, say on C4.

Now simply press CTRL, and while holding it down, tap the DOWN ARROW. See how it brought you to the last row?

To go to the last column instead of the last row, you would tap the RIGHT ARROW instead of the DOWN ARROW.

The important thing to note is that this trick technically doesn’t always bring you to the very end of a data set. It will bring you to the end of your data until there is a space. For example, let’s say you have a space in your data set like this.

If you started at C4 again, and then pressed CTRL+DOWN ARROW, your cursor would stop right before the space.

Press CTRL+DOWN ARROW once more, and your cursor would go to the beginning of your data after the space.

If you wanted to get to the end, you would have to press CTRL+DOWN ARROW once more.

If you have multiple spaces in your data, you would need to press CTRL+DOWN ARROW multiple times to get to the end.


CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW KEY

CTRL+SHIFT+ARROW KEY is pretty much the same concept as CTRL+ARROW KEY, except it will also highlight (or select) the data as you move your cursor. This trick is awesome when you want to select your entire data set quickly without using your mouse.

Let’s try it with the same data set from earlier. Put your cursor on A1.

Then press CTRL+SHIFT+RIGHT ARROW.

We’ve just selected the entire header row in a split second. Way faster than doing it with the mouse!

To select an entire column, just put your cursor on the first row and press CTRL+SHIFT+DOWN ARROW.

What if you wanted to select the whole data set, with all rows and columns? Put your cursor at the beginning again (A1), then press CTRL+SHIFT, and then while holding both keys down, tap the RIGHT ARROW, and then tap the DOWN ARROW.

Cool huh?

If you thought that was easy, there is even a faster way to select the whole data set. And that’s with CTRL+SHIFT+END.


CTRL+SHIFT+END

When you press these together it pretty much has the same effect as if you had pressed CTRL+SHIFT+RIGHT ARROW+DOWN ARROW.

The best part about this shortcut key is that it doesn’t matter whether or not you have spaces in your data. It will just find the “end” of your data.

These three navigation shortcuts are probably among the most time-saving tricks I know. Once you start using them, you may never touch that mouse again!