Change the Cursor Movement Direction in Excel

Make it move up, right, or left instead of down

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By default, Excel automatically moves the active cell highlight, or cell cursor down one cell when you press the Enter key on the keyboard. Excel set this as the default to facilitate data entry since users most frequently input data this way.

These instructions apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Excel for Office 365.

Changing the Cursor Direction in Excel

You can change the default cursor behavior so that it moves to the right, the left, or up, instead of down. It is also possible to have the cursor not move at all, but remain on the current cell even after you press the Enter key. Changing the cursor direction is done using the Advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

Screenshot of Excel showing the Options screen

Excel For Windows:

  1. Click on the File tab of the ribbon to open the file menu.

  2. Click on Options in the menu to open Excel Options.

  3. Click on Advanced in the left-hand pane of the dialog box.

  4. In the Editing Options section, go to After pressing Enter, move selection in the right-hand pane. Click on the down arrow next to Direction and select up, left, or right.

  5. To have the cell cursor remain on the same cell, remove the check mark from the box next to After pressing Enter, move selection.

Office For Mac:

  1. Click on the Excel menu option.

  2. Click on Preferences in the menu to open Excel Preferences.

  3. Click on the Edit option.

  4. In the Editing Options section, go to After pressing Enter, move selection in the right-hand pane. Click on the down arrow next to Direction and select, up, right, or left.

  5. To have the cell cursor remain on the same cell, remove the check mark from the box next to After pressing Return, move selection.

Using the Tab and Enter Keys When Entering Data

If you periodically enter data across rows, rather than down in columns, you can use the Tab key to move left to right across a worksheet rather than changing the default direction using the instructions listed above.

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  1. After entering the first cell of data, press the Tab key to move one cell to the right in the same row.

  2. Continue entering data and using the Tab key to move to the next cell to the right until the end of the row of data is reached.

  3. Press the Enter key to return to the first column to start the next row of data.