Among the F1-F12 keys, I use F2 most often. Why? Because it helps me edit cell contents quickly. On the other hand, F2 is extremely helpful when I try to edit cell reference in chart or revising reference in Name manager.
In short, F2 key does the following:
- F2 alone – Go to edit mode
- Shftt+F2 – Insert/Edit comment
- Alt+F2 – Save as
- Alt+Shift+F2 – Save
That’s all??! Absolutely no!
F2 alone – Go to edit mode
Let’s pay attention to details here. Normally, your spreadsheet will be in “Ready” mode. Pressing F2 key takes you to “Edit” mode so that you may move inside the cell with arrow keys for editing purpose.
Simple and straight forward.
Now, let’s look at another situation where your active cell contains a formula.
Pressing F2 again takes you to “Edit” mode. Now you may move within the cell with arrow keys (left and right) to edit the formula, by typing whatever you want to edit.
Here’s the tricky part: When the active cursor stops at a reference portion of a formula, like the screen shot below, pressing F2 takes to you “Enter” Mode.
Now pressing Arrow key (left arrow in our example) takes you to the cell reference that is one cell left to the active cell. Pay attention to the status bar, now you should be in “Point” mode. In this mode, you can change the cell reference in the formula by using arrow keys instead of mouse. Of course, you may use your mouse to “Point” to a cell reference. I guess this is what it means actually…
Once it is done, press F2 key to return to “Edit” mode, where we may use arrow keys (left or right) to move within the formula to continue editing. Or simply press Enter when editing is done.
If you love your keyboard more than your mouse, you have to know this trick because it may save you lots of time in editing a formula. Nonetheless, you need to spend time to practice it in order to master it. No Pain No Gain.
F2 key is more than that. Perhaps you have already notice that pressing F2 key in a cell with formula will highlight all the cell references (on the active worksheet) that the formula refer to. Like the screenshot below. Did you know… you may actually edit the cell references highlighted by mouse drag?
Here’s my favorite part of F2 key as mentioned in the beginning of the post. If you do charting or Naming range, you probably have encountered a situation like the screenshot below, which is quite annoying.
Now, you should know that the key to avoid such annoying thing is F2.
After you click into the “cell reference input box” (please excuse my wording here as I do not know the terminology of that thing), before you use the arrow keys, press F2 to go to “Edit” mode first. Then you are free to move around with your arrow keys (left or right) without the hassle of “pointing “to other cell reference. Isn’t it nice?!
Another tip in using F2 – Adding hyperlink to URL
When you copy a URL from your web browser to Excel, there will be no hyperlink added to it. What I do is simply: Select the cell with URL, Press F2, Press Enter.
The rest of the F2 key combinations is easy.
Shift+F2 – Insert/Edit comment
Alt+F2 – Save as
It opens the “Save As” dialog box.
Alt+Shift+F2 – Save
I wonder who will use this combination when there is a simpler “Ctrl+S” for performing the same action.
The shortcut combinations stated above have been tested with Excel 2010. If you find it doesn’t work in other version of Excel, please let us know by leaving your comment.
Also feel free to share with us your tips in using F2.
For other Function keys: