Function Keys

Function Keys in Excel are a handy and faster way of doing certain tasks by using keyboard instead of mouse. In this article we are going to discuss about the use of excel function keys (F1 to F12). Function keys provide same output in all versions of Excel making it easier to recall.


This is a long post of around 3000 + words. So, below is a tabular format for you to know about the F1 to F12 function keys in excel in an easy to digest manner.

Function Keys Alt Ctrl Shift Alt + Shift Ctrl + Shift Alt + Ctrl Alt + Ctrl + Shift
F1 Opens Excel Help Insert a New Chart Minimize or Maximize the ribbon No Output Add new worksheet No Output No Output No Output
F2 Edit contents of an excel Opens Save As dialog box Opens Print options Insert or Edit a comment in selected cell Saves the workbook No Output Opens the “File Open Dialog Box”. Opens Print options
F3 Paste Named Range or Named List No Output Opens Name Manager Opens dialog box to select functions to insert in the selected cell No Output Create names from the row or column labels for the selected cell(s) Provide name the selected range or cell. No Output
F4 Toggles between cell references – Absolute, Relative and Mixed Reference. Also repeats last action performed in workbook. Closes all the open excel workbooks. Closes all the open excel workbooks. Select the empty cell available next in the right direction to the current selection. Quits Excel. Closes all the open excel workbooks. Same as Alt + F4 Function. Select the empty cell available next in the left direction to the current selection. Quits Excel. Closes all the open excel workbooks. Same as Alt + F4 Function. Closes the current open excel workbook window.
F5 Displays the “Go To” dialog box. No Output Restores the window size from maximum of the current open excel workbook. Opens the “Find and Replace” Window. No Output No Output No Output No Output
F6 Switch between the panes of an excel workbook if you have a split window. If not switches between help task pane and application window. No Output Switch to the previous excel workbook if you have multiple workbooks open. Switch between the panes of an excel workbook if you have a split window. If not switches between help task pane and application window. No Output Switch to the previous excel workbook if you have multiple workbooks open. No Output No Output
F7 Opens the “Spelling” option in excel using which you can check the spellings in your workbook No Output Moves the excel window. Works only if your workbook is in a restored window. Opens the “Research” task pane in your excel workbook. No Output No Output No Output No Output
F8 Enables and disables “Extend Mode” selection in excel. Open the “Macros” dialog box. Moves the excel window. Works only if your workbook is in a restored window. Select cell or multiple cells or a range of cells using arrow keys. No Output No Output No Output No Output
F9 Recalculates the output of all formulas in your excel workbook. If editing a cell having formula then replaces the value of the formula in cell. No Output Minimizes the Excel window. Recalculates the output of all formulas in your excel workbook. No Output No Output Recalculates the output of all formulas in your excel workbook. All the dependent formulas are rechecked and recalculated in all the open workbooks. It also works for the cell which are not marked for recalculation.
F10 Displays the keyboard shortcut for the excel ribbon also known as excel tips. Display the selection window in excel. Resizes or restores the excel window if its open in maximum window first. Similarly it maximizes the excel window if its open in restored window initially. Displays the shortcut window for the selected cell, same as right clicking the mouse on the selected cell. If “Help Window” of Excel is opened then it displays the set of commands for Help Window. Displays the menu for the “Smart Tag” if only a single “Smart Tag” is present in your workbook. In case of multiple “Smart Tags” it simply toggles to next smart tag and displays its menu. Displays the shortcut window for the selected cell, same as right clicking the mouse on the selected cell. If “Help Window” of Excel is opened then it displays the set of commands for Help Window. No Output No Output
F11 Adds a chart to your excel. If you hit F11 after selecting a specific data range then it uses the same range in chart. Opens Microsoft Visual Basic Editor. If VB Editor is already open then by pressing this key you can toggle between the Excel workbook and editor. Adds a macro sheet in your currently open excel workbook with a default name like “Macro1, Macro2, etc” Inserts a “New Sheet” in your currently open excel workbook. Displays the Microsoft Script editor for your current open excel workbook No Output No Output No Output
F12 Opens “Save As” dialog box like “Alt + F2” keys. No Output Opens the “File Open Dialog Box”. Saves the workbook like “Alt + Shift + F2” keys. No Output Opens Print options. No Output No Output

Function keys allow you to do things with your keyboard instead of your mouse to increase your speed.

F1

Opens Excel Help.

F2

Moves the insertion point to the end of the contents of the active cell. For example, select cell B6 below and press F2.

Note: turn off Allow editing directly in cells (File, Options, Advanced, Editing Options) and pressing F2 will move the insertion point to the formula bar.

F3

Displays the Paste Name dialog box. For example, select cell E2 below, type =SUM(, press F3 and select a name.

Note: of course, first create at least one named range.

F4

Cycles through all 4 types of cell references (absolute, mixed reference (2x) and relative). For example, select cell B5 below, click in the formula bar, move the insertion point in or to the right of G2, and press F4.

Note: if you are not editing a cell, F4 repeats the last action, if possible.

F5

Displays the Go To dialog box. For example, to select cell C15, in the Reference box, type C15, and click OK.

Note: you can also select named ranges, or click Special to quickly select all cells with formulas, comments, conditional formatting, constants, data validation, etc.

F6

Moves to the next pane in a worksheet that has been split.

F7

Displays the Spelling dialog box (the same as clicking Spelling on the Review tab).

F8

Turns on/off Extend mode. If Extend mode is turned on, select cell A1 and press → and ↓ a few times.

Note: if Extend mode is turned off, hold down SHIFT and press → and ↓ a few times.

F9

Calculates the workbook. By default, any time you change a value, Excel automatically calculates the workbook. Turn on Manual calculation (on the Formulas tab, in the Calculation group, click Calculations Options, Manual) and change the value in cell A1 from 5 to 6.

Press F9.

Note: if you are editing a cell, F9 replaces a formula with its own result.

F10

Shows the key tips (the same as pressing ALT). Key Tips allow you to quickly perform any task available on the Ribbon without using the mouse.

F11

Creates a chart sheet of a selected range.

F12

Brings up the Save As dialog box.

Note: to change the default file location, on the File tab, click Options, Save.