In the introductory post of Function Keys, I used F8 as an example to illustrate the situation when we thought we know English but cannot comprehend a sentence.
F8: Turns extend mode on or off. In extend mode, Extended Selection appears in the status line, and the arrow keys extend the selection.
Actually there are there more combinations for F8. In short,
- F8 – Extend selection
- Shift+F8 – Add to selection
- Ctrl+F8 – Resize the window of the workbook when it is not maximized
- Alt+F8 – Open the Macro dialogue box
Are they clear now? Maybe the final two, but definitely not the first two.
F8 – Extend Selection
This is essentially the same as the action you press Shift Key with arrow keys. It allows to select a continuous range of cells. The only difference is you don’t have to HOLD the Shift Key all the way. Once you press F8, you turn on the “Extend Mode“. You will see the “Extend Selection” on the status bar, as shown below:
Who will actually use F8 key when we can use Ctrl and Shift Key to select range of cell quickly?
Shift+F8 – Add to Selection
The even trickier part is to select multiple ranges. Shift+F8 switches to “Add to Selection“. See screenshot below:
Literally, it means the selection(s) you made is now “Added”. Now pressing down arrow key twice will take you two cells downward, with the previous selection remained selected.
Then press F8 again to switch back to “Extend Selection“. Now you may select the extra range you need.
To repeat the steps above, you may select multiple non-continuous ranges, with or without your mouse.
However, please pay attention to the status bar. If you press arrow key when the “Extend Selection” or “Add to Selection” is off, all previous selection(s) will be gone.
“Who will use this trick to select multiple cells / ranges when using mouse to do that is so easy? What we need is to hold Ctrl key while dragging mouse.” This question stayed in my mind until I created my first dashboard. In my dashboard, there are many mini charts. Like the one below:
In order to better utilize the real estate on my spreadsheet, I turned the background of all charts into “transparent”, i.e. no fill. By doing so, I input figures directly in the cells under the charts while the figures are still visible.
The drawback of this approach: Selecting the cells underneath is IMPOSSIBLE with mouse click. Not to mention to select multiple non-continuous cells under the charts.
F8 and Shift+F8 come to rescue under this circumstance!
With the techniques described above, I can select, say, the “% Change” of COGS and Expense easily.
Tip: Another quick way to do so is to type the cell references, e.g. B10,D10 directly in Name Box. Comma “,” is required.
Ctrl+F8 – Resize the window of the workbook when it is not maximized
This is another function I have never used before… (except for this post)
Alt+F8 – Open the Macro dialogue box
This one is also obvious, provided that you use Macro.
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 your tips in using F8 key.
For other Function keys: