How to Change the Cursor Movement Direction in Excel

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

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By default, Microsoft Excel automatically moves the active cell highlight, or cell cursor, down one cell when you press the Enter key on the keyboard. This is a default setting since this is how most users input data. But you may prefer your cursor to move to the right, left, or up when you enter data. You may even prefer that it not move at all. Fortunately, it's easy to change your cursor's movement direction in Excel.

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

Change the Cursor Direction in Excel for Windows

Use the Advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box to change your cursor-direction settings.

  1. Open Excel.

  2. Select the File tab of the ribbon to open the File menu.

  3. Select Options in the menu to open Excel Options.

  4. Select Advanced in the left-hand pane of the dialog box.

  5. In the Editing Options section, go to After pressing Enter, move selection in the right-hand pane. Select the down arrow next to Direction, and then choose up, left, or right.

    Screenshot of Excel showing the Options screen
  6. To have the cell cursor remain on the same cell, remove the checkmark from the box next to After pressing Enter, move selection.

  7. Select OK to save your changes. Your Excel cursor direction is now changed.

Change the Cursor Direction in Excel for Mac

  1. Open Excel.

  2. Select the Excel menu option.

  3. Select Preferences in the menu to open Excel Preferences.

  4. Select the Edit option.

  5. In the Editing Options section, go to After pressing Enter, move selection in the right-hand pane. Select the down arrow next to Direction and then choose up, right, or left.

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

  7. Select OK to save your changes. Your Excel cursor direction is now changed.

If you want to enter data across rows, rather than down in columns, there's no need to change your Excel cursor direction. Instead, use the Tab key to move left to right across a worksheet when entering your data.