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Excel for Mac: Mac Only - Customise Your Keyboard Shortcuts

8 March 2024

This week in our series about Microsoft Excel for Mac, we show how to customise your keyboard shortcuts using both Excel’s built-in ‘Customize Keyboard’ feature or Mac’s keyboard shortcut preferences.  This is one of the things you can do with Excel for Mac that you can’t do on Windows.

How to

To create or change a keyboard shortcut in Excel, follow these steps:

  • Go to the Tools menu and choose ‘Customize Keyboard’
  • pick the category of command you’re trying to find, and then search or browse for the command in the list
  • select a command, press a key combination, and see if it’s used already.  If it’s already in use, you may want to pick a different combination
  • then just click the ‘Add’ button to assign the key combination to the selected command.

In the example below, we show the category called ‘Commands Not in the Ribbon’ with a search for commands with the word “value”, which filters to the commands ‘Values & Number Formatting’ and Values & Source Formatting’.

You should note that some commands may not be available.  Generally, only commands that appear in the ‘Ribbon Customization’ dialog can be found in the ‘Customize Keyboard’ dialog.  For example, there is no command that allows you to set a cell format to use a particular font.  Some keyboard shortcuts may be used by your Mac and you may not be able to use these key combinations, even though you can assign them in the dialog.

You can read more details here: Create a Custom Keyboard Shortcut.

macOS Keyboard Shortcuts

Another way to create a customised keyboard shortcut is to use the Mac Preferences.  This allows you to set a keyboard shortcut for any app, but only for commands that appear in one of that app’s menus.

Just follow the simple steps below:

  • Look for a menu command that you want to use a keyboard shortcut to activate.For example, you can go to the Data menu in Excel and you’ll see ‘Validation…’, which will open the ‘Data Validation’ dialog:
  • Go to macOS -> Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> App Shortcuts
  • Click the + button to add a new shortcut    
  • Select ‘Microsoft’ from the list of applications    
  • In the Menu Title field, type the name of the menu item exactly as it appears in Excel.  For example, type ‘Validation…’ to create a shortcut that will simulate opening the Data menu and pressing ‘Validation…’, which opens the ‘Data Validation’ dialog
  • Press a key combination.  It’s a good idea to choose a key combination that’s not already used to do something else
  • Now go back to Excel and try out the new shortcut you just created!

See Apple’s help article for more information: Use macOS keyboard shortcuts - Apple Support


Check back for more details about Excel for Mac and how it’s different to Excel for Windows.