Freeze or Lock Columns and Rows in Excel

An image of a spreadsheet with a large number of rows and columns

rjp85/Getty Images 

It's sometimes difficult to read and understand large spreadsheets. When you scroll too far right or too far down, you lose the headings that are located at the top and on the left side of the worksheet. Without the headings, it's hard to keep track of which column or row of data you're looking at.

Note: Instructions in this article apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; Excel for Mac, Excel 365, and Excel Online.

01
of 06

Freeze Rows or Columns in Excel with Freeze Panes

A screenshot of freezing rows and columns in Excel.

If you want to always keep the first column or the top row in view in a spreadsheet, use the Freeze Panes feature in Microsoft Excel. This allows you to keep certain areas or panes of the spreadsheet visible at all times when scrolling to the right or down.

When headings or rows are visible on the screen, it's easier to keep track of data while you enter values in other parts of the spreadsheet.

02
of 06

Freeze Panes Using the Active Cell

When you use Freeze Panes in Excel, all the rows above the active cell and all the columns to the left of it become frozen in place.

As you scroll across the spreadsheet, those cells won't move.

To enable this feature, select the cell to the right of the columns and just below the rows that you want to freeze in place.

For example, to keep row 1, row 2, and column A on the screen when you scroll:

  1. Select cell B3.
  2. Select View.
  3. Select Freeze Panes to display a drop-down list.
  4. Select Freeze Panes.

This freezes all rows and columns to the top and left of the selected cell. The status of frozen cells or columns is displayed by a darker line beneath the frozen rows and to the right of frozen columns.

To freeze panes in Microsoft Excel 2010, select View > Arrange All > Freeze Panes.

03
of 06

Unfreeze Panes in Excel

An example screenshot showing unfreezing panes in Excel.

When you freeze rows or columns in Excel and then save the file, the status of frozen panes is also saved. This means that the next time you open the sheet, those frozen rows and columns remain in place.

If you don't want those rows or columns to stay static anymore, unfreeze all rows and columns with the Unfreeze Panes command.

To unlock the rows and columns so that you can scroll the entire spreadsheet:

  1. Select View.
  2. Select Freeze Panes to open a drop-down list.
  3. Select Unfreeze Panes.

Your spreadsheet returns to normal. All rows and columns will scroll as you scroll the sheet up and down, or left and right.

When multiple people work on the same spreadsheet, freezing panes can make a spreadsheet difficult for other people to follow. Use Unfreeze Panes to quickly set the spreadsheet back to normal.

04
of 06

Freeze the Top Row in Excel

If you want to keep the top row visible in Excel, use the Freeze Top Row command. This command freezes only the top row of your spreadsheet, regardless which cell you've selected. This is commonly used when the top row contains header information for all of the data in the spreadsheet.

To freeze the top row in a spreadsheet:

  1. Select View.
  2. Select Freeze Panes to display a drop-down list.
  3. Select Freeze Top Row.

This freezes the top row so that you can scroll the sheet down as far as you like, but still see the top row.

There is no quick keyboard shortcut to freeze the top row in Excel, but you can press a few keys in sequence to navigate to the Freeze Top Pane in the menu using your keyboard. To do this, press Alt+W, press F, and press R.

05
of 06

Freeze the Left Column in Excel

You can quickly freeze the left column of a spreadsheet using the Freeze First Column command. This command freezes the left column of your spreadsheet, regardless which cell you've selected. This feature is useful when the left column contains information about all of the numbers to the right of it in the sheet.

To freeze the left column:

  1. Select View.
  2. Select Freeze Panes to open a drop-down list.
  3. Select Freeze First Column.

This immediately freezes the left column so that you can scroll the sheet to the right as far as you like, but still see the left column.

If you want to navigate to Freeze First Column using your keyboard, press Alt+W, press F, and press C.

06
of 06

Add Freeze Panes to the Quick Access Toolbar

A screenshot adding Freeze Panes to the Quick Access toolbar.

If you use the Freeze Panes feature a lot in Excel, you can add all the freeze commands to the Quick Access Toolbar.

The Quick Access Toolbar is located above the ribbon, at the very top of the Excel window. It lets you quickly access commands that you use most often.

To add Freeze Panes to the Quick Access Toolbar:

  1. Select File.
  2. Select Options to open the Options dialog box.
  3. Select Quick Access Toolbar.
  4. In the Choose commands from list, select Freeze Panes.
  5. Select Add to add Freeze Panes to the list on the right.
  6. Select OK.

An icon for Freeze Panes is added to the Quick Access Toolbar. When you select this icon, you'll see the three Freeze Panes commands described in this article.