Select Non-Adjacent Cells in Excel With Keyboard and Mouse

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Dragging with the mouse in Excel to quickly highlight a block of adjacent cells is probably the most common way of selecting more than one cell in a worksheet. But, there may be times when the cells you want to highlight are not located beside each other.

When this occurs, it's possible to select non-adjacent cells. Although selecting non-adjacent cells can be done solely with the keyboard, it's easier to do when you use the keyboard and mouse together.

Note The information in the article applies to Excel versions 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Excel for Mac.

Select Non-Adjacent Cells with Keyboard and Mouse

Screenshot of Excel showing selecting of cells with keyboard and mouse
  1. With your mouse, click the first cell you want to highlight. This cell becomes the active cell.

  2. Press and hold the Ctrl key on the keyboard.

  3. Click the rest of the cells you want to highlight.

  4. Once the desired cells are highlighted, release the Ctrl key.

  5. Do not click anywhere else with the mouse pointer once you release the Ctrl key or you will clear the highlight from the selected cells.

  6. If you release the Ctrl key too soon and wish to highlight more cells, press and hold the Ctrl key again and click the additional cell(s).

Use Only the Keyboard to Select Non-Adjacent Cells

The steps below cover selecting cells using only the keyboard.

Use the Keyboard in Extended Mode

To select non-adjacent cells with only the keyboard requires you to use the keyboard in Extended mode. Extended mode is activated by pressing the F8 key on the keyboard. You can shut off extended mode by pressing the Shift and F8 keys on the keyboard together.

Select Single Non-Adjacent Cells

  1. Move the cell cursor to the first cell you want to highlight.

  2. Press and release the F8 key on the keyboard to start Extended mode and to highlight the first cell.

    Screenshot of Excel showing the Extend Selection status
  3. Without moving the cell cursor, press and release the Shift + F8 keys on the keyboard together to shut off Extended mode.

  4. Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the cell cursor to the next cell you wish to highlight. The first cell remains highlighted.

  5. With the cell cursor on the next cell to be highlighted, repeat steps 2 and 3 above.

  6. Continue to add cells to the highlighted range by using the F8 and Shift + F8 keys to start and stop Extended mode.

Select Adjacent and Non-Adjacent Cells

Follow the steps below if the range you wish to select contains a mixture of adjacent and individual cells.

  1. Move the cell cursor to the first cell in the group of cells you want to highlight.

  2. Press and release the F8 key on the keyboard to start Extended Mode.

  3. Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to extend the highlighted range to include all cells in the group.

  4. With all cells in the group highlighted, press and release the Shift + F8 keys to shut off extended mode.

  5. Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the cell cursor away from the highlighted group of cells. The first group of cells remains highlighted.

  6. If there are more grouped cells you wish to highlight, move to the first cell in the group and repeat steps 2 to 4 above.